It’s a wonder more entrepreneurs aren’t in straight jackets babbling incoherently to the walls of their padded cell given all the things buzzing around in our brains. Between the new ideas and the endless task lists, our brain is constantly working on something – and that’s the problem.
If it isn’t written down, the tendency is for your brain to recite it over and over so you don’t forget it, making even the most mundane of tasks – “Don’t forget to pay this month’s telephone bill before the 15th!” – a form of distraction (and the reason for many a sleepless night).
So in the interest of maintaining your sanity, get in the habit of doing a daily brain dump! Take all the to-do’s, ideas, reminders, questions and anything else that happens to be bouncing around in your brain and put it to paper (or electronic memo). That way your brain doesn’t have to ‘hold onto’ those ideas because they are safety stored elsewhere.
The Brain Dump: How to Get It Out of Your Brain and On to Paper
#1: Create Brain Buckets – Instead of jotting everything down in a journal and never looking at it again, create specific buckets to receive your brain dumps. For example, use your task management system for all to-do’s and reminders, but create a searchable file for storing ideas in a program like Evernote.
#2: Establish a Follow-up Routine – The reason your brain holds onto these ideas and won’t let them go is because it’s the only way that stuff doesn’t fall off your radar and get missed. The best way to truly get stuff off your mind is to write it down AND have a system for checking back on your brain buckets and following up.
#3: Find Your Favorite Technology – Chances are if you need a way to sort and store anything, someone has already come up with a cool tech tool to help you. Searchable memo systems, like Evernote, allow you to capture a wide range of things – from photos to voice memos – and store them by keyword for future reference.
#4: Use a Searchable Keyword System – Even using something as simple as a designated keyword for each core task or project will help you manage and track tasks, files and email threads. For example, you may flag files and emails with the keyword “ReviewME” so it’s uniquely searchable when you are looking for files to be reviewed.
#5: Schedule Time in Your Calendar – It’s easy to track tasks and deadlines because you can set a reminder to tell you when each item is due! Handle your ideas in much the same way – sort and store them by category and designate time in your calendar to review for follow up. For example, create an idea bucket for “Lead Generation” and set a time on a regular basis to review the file and take action on the top 1 or 3 ideas.