Years ago I found myself sitting at a conference listening to the speakers who had amazing ideas and instead of soaking up these great ideas, I was thinking about every small tasks I had to accomplish immediately when I got home. I was listening to their big business ideas, I was taking notes but somehow it wasn’t all getting through, it wasn’t sticking. The things they were saying had my gears turning, but my brain couldn’t organize these ideas quickly enough to formulate an execution plan. I was instead, creating more mess for my brain to filter. It was feeling like it needed a really long vacation not 100 more “to do’s” rolling around.

On the plane home I decided to try something. I took out a pen and paper and began writing down everything I was thinking. Everything from “do laundry” to “book a trip to Tahiti” I made the list. No matter how big, no matter how small I wrote it down. If it was a 5 year goal or the next thing I needed to take action on. I wrote throughout the entire 3 hour flight, my pen never left the paper until the wheels on that plane hit the ground. When I walked off that plane I was like a new woman. I no longer had to keep repeating the same information over and over to keep it front and center of my brain. It was on paper and I felt organized like I had a new lease on life. I called it a “brain dump.”

Sure this is simple. But let’s be honest, how often do you really allow yourself to free write everything you think? To sit down in a quiet room and let the ideas flow? It’s liberating!

I know what you’re thinking… “now I’ve got a mess to deal with, how will all of this ever get done?” That’s the beauty of it… with a little organization, this simple and sometimes sloppy method can have you feeling better in no time. Just keep reading!

Once you’ve done your “brain dump,” take a new sheet of paper and square off 4 sections. Label each one accordingly.

TO DO
3 MONTHS
1 YEAR
3-5 YEARS

Take your “brain dump” list and choose a category to place each item. The things that need to be done right away will become your daily to do list. The things 3 months out will eventually rotate into your to do’s. Those things 1-5 years out can take a back seat and they’ll be there whenever you decide to move them up the list. Now you’ve got a plan for right now, a place to start! A 90 day plan (3 months) and even a one-five year goal sheet! You’ll also feel organization with more time and room to think on what’s important to do now, and more time to execute!

Now I find myself clearing my brain on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. Each time I just pull out the previous record and organize it again! Just knowing it’s all written down and that I’ll refer back to it often makes me feel 100 times better.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead, give it a try for yourself.

Written by Millie Holloman

Photographer Millie Holloman

Millie Holloman is a photographer based in Wilmington, NC. She travels all over the world photographing weddings, families, kids and grads. She specializes in a more candid approach to my photographs and most enjoys capturing people in a comfortable environment being themselves.

5 Comments

  • Megan Clouse says:

    I know exactly what you are saying! I’m the same way and my lists have become vital to my sanity. Thanks for sharing!

  • beautifully thought out and written, Millie!!
    Thanks for being so succinct. :-)

  • Sherry Ann says:

    Hello Millie!!!
    Okay so now I just need to book a three hour plane ride so I can book off the time to write, right? lol!! Sometimes for me just getting away really helps too! Once a week we try to go to Starbucks and just nail out what HAS to be done! Getting away from the office and phone and noise…helps clear the noodle!!!!
    It’s getting there that’s hard!!
    Thank you for this awesome post!!!

    blessings,
    Sherry Ann

  • Love it! I read a book called “Getting Things Done,” which suggests a similar “brain dump.” I can’t tell you how my productivity changed after I began using this tool to free up my mind of all the nagging to-do’s. Using a word processor for my lists enables me to keep changing and updating the lists without having to re-write. Thanks for your post!
    :)

  • Feuza says:

    love it. and I must not lose the book,which happens quite often with me

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