A brain dump is letting out all your thoughts. Not in a barrage of conversation, but via pen to paper. It’s a form of release. It is a way to face reality. It means putting thoughts somewhere else.
I came across several articles lately about how to do a brain dump. Try brightontheday.com and lifehack.org. I originally read about it in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. It seems so simple – too simple – to be effective, but it does seem to work.
I look at Weekends in Paradelle (and perhaps my other blogs too) as a kind of brain dump where I work out and organize my thoughts.
Brain dumps also have another application that is less noble. On forums and social media sites, students ask for answers to exams. Some requests are not so lacking in academic integrity and may want training material or practice items. In academic circles, a brain dump is when a test taker goes from an exam online to dump everything that they can recall about the test questions and answers. Yes, it is cheating.
It can also be the transfer of a large quantity of information from one person to another or to a storage and retrieval medium. In slang, it can describe a hurried explanation of a system, job, skillset. In computing, the phrase describes the taking of a snapshot of the internal state of a knowledge database for transfer or archiving purposes.
For a legitimate brain dump of yourself, you might want to start by trying doing one before heading to bed for the night. You dump all the things still lingering in your mind onto a piece of paper and let them go. The idea is to get out everything that has the potential to keep you up at night. Don’t make it a To Do list for tomorrow. That will just keep you up! But if upcoming things are on your mind, put them down, but let them go.
According to “the rules,” after you write down anything and everything, you should start a new page and organize. This is where I depart from the rules because I don’t like turning the dump into a To Do list, and putting categories and priorities to the list does just that.
I do find it useful to just write my thoughts in little group in the corners of a page. One corner for concerns, one for errands, places I want to go – whatever things seem to be filling my head. I have seen actual brain dump pads online, but a blank sheet works for me and you could just make a sheet that works for you on your computer and print out a few. I also have seen brain dump journals and perhaps keeping your sheets in one place might be useful to look back on later – but a blank book would work fine and is probably cheaper.
Is this a daily practice? Not for me, but I suppose it could be a daily practice. I seem to do it when I need it. It often happens late at night.
I know that academic brain dump is all about getting access to other people’s brain dumps, but I think the real value is in examining your own thoughts.
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