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Get Out of the Brain Dump

De-clutter your mind like this instead

Be thankful this photo isn’t scratch and sniff

“Brain dumping.” It’s a popular phrase as of late.

Have you ever been to the dump?

Dumps are unpleasant to say the least. They’re messy, they smell and they’re full of trash.

It is not the kind of environment I want associated with my brain in any way.

I am exaggerating the severity of the phrase for effect, but when I hear about the phenomenon of “brain dumps,” pouring unfiltered thoughts onto the page or aloud in speech, my thoughts feel more cluttered than not.

Instead of brain dumping acting as a torrent of ideas, thoughts and information, one should think of it more expressing, ordering, and extracting value from your thoughts.

Taking things step by step can clear the way.

Brain dumping implies that you ideate or offload your knowledge without true direction. That when you hit a roadblock, the next step is to throw everything on to the page, let it sit for a while, and then parse through it for a solution. I don’t think this is an entirely useless act, but it is simply too wasteful.

Whether or not your personal concept of brain dumping includes organization, I believe the key to brain dumping properly is to maintain a clear direction when you unpack your information. Set clear goals before you try any kind of ideation and stick to them. Consider why you may need to ideate and go from there.

This is what happens when you start ideating without a goal.

Are you just rearranging your own messy thoughts?

Are you trying to figure out everything you know about a topic? Maybe everything you don’t know?

Are members of your team going to use your thoughts as a starting off point for another?

Is this to find a solution to an existing problem or is it to create something new altogether?

Keep a rhythm once you start offloading, but remember to label and compartmentalize the ideas you have put down. Don’t let them sit around haphazardly on the page, whiteboard, document or whatever medium you’re using.

Don’t begin connecting the dots right away, but make sure you know where the dots are in relation to your final goal.

If you keep the endgame in the back of your mind, your brain will get you from one step to the next. Without following steps and staying organized, without finding the synergy of ideas, acting on concepts can be frustrating. No one gets anywhere fast by sifting through heaps of data.

Try to find the patterns in your thoughts.

Have you ever walked into a room and completely forgotten why you put yourself there?

It’s a feeling similar to trying to decipher a brain dump after the fact. Sure, you might have the ultimate answer to your problem or have a complete database of what you know, but if anyone tries to mine them further they’re going to be lost.

Keeping track of the patterns that form from ideation can let you access the best points far easier than otherwise. If you find the perfect thought, be sure to track how you came to that conclusion. The more clearly an idea can be traced from one to the other, the more leverage one can get by examining them. You’ll waste less time and be one step closer to actualizing your goals.

Confusion is a real pain in the neck

If anyone else wants to poke at your ideas, they’ll have a clearer understanding of how you got there as well.

Even if you can make sense of your own clutter and thrive in a dump, it is not fair for others to have to decipher it for themselves. Teams work harder and bonds become stronger when everybody is on the same wavelength without second-guessing where they’ve been or where they’re going.

Don’t forget: nothing grows in a dump except mold.

Brain dumps might be better than spinning your wheels entirely, but they are rarely actionable. Having a lot of material does not necessarily mean you can progress your plan. By knowing how to order your thoughts and how to sort through them, you can make your life easier and become a more effective collaborator in the process.

Through clarity, anything is possible and actionable.

Stop dumping. Start organizing. The rest will follow.

Aaron Webber is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Webber Investments LLC, as well as a Managing Partner at Madison Wall Agencies.

If you liked this post, please press the like button and leave any questions or comments below.

Check out my Quora, & LinkedIn pages for more.

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Aaron Webber

Aaron Webber

Chairman and CEO, Webber Investments. Partner at Idea Booth/BGO.

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