Brain Dump Journal, The Solution To A Cluttered Mind

Often time you heard people mention brain dumping. But what actually is it? And how you can start your own brain dump journal? In this post, I will share all about it



Nowadays, we are living in a chaotic environment. Everything happening in a fast-paced manner and it seems like we are unable to slow things down. And often time we have left feeling burned out or overwhelmed with things.

Are you familiar with all of this? Well, I certainly am.

The problem is, when we are in a state of being overwhelmed, it is difficult to think of a solution to get out of it. Sometimes, when I’m in this situation I feel like my head or brain fills with stuff and is full of clutter as I keep thinking about things one after another

It is a hot mess.

Then I found a way to help me control the feeling of overwhelms and lessen the sense of chaotic mess inside my head.

Do brain dumping in my journal

I know it gets repeated so frequently that it has lost its meaning

But imagine this. If your place is so cluttered with stuff, will you able to find your things or at least work in peace? I dont think so. It’s the same with our mental space.

Brain dumping can help lessen the clutters and help you think clearly

What is a brain dump?

It is the act of dumping everything inside your head with no interruption or thinking required

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a brain dump is  the act or an instance of comprehensively and uncritically expressing and recording one’s thoughts and ideas (as on a particular topic)

When you realized that you are unable to think clearly because there is so much stuff going on, brain dumping can help clear your mental space

Why do we need to do a brain dump?

 Our brain thinks, analyse and does important stuff for us like making a decision every single day. And even when we are about to sleep, sometimes we overthink things that don’t even exist yet.

So sometimes it feels like too much. Too much to do and too much to think.

That’s when brain dump comes into the picture

Brain dump helps us see what is the thing that taking up soo much space in our mind. if you have done it well, you will end up having a huge jumble mess of a list. It alleviates the feeling of stress that you might feel.

If you know Marie Kondo, the Queen of organization, the clutter is mainly caused by too much stuff and the stuff dont have any designated ‘home’ or space to place them. Same thing here.

When you have a cluttered list inside your head, you need to take it out, and see whether you need to discard them, or keep them. If you want to keep it, where is the safe space to keep the list? This is all done by creating the brain dump list

How often I should do brain dump?

There are no specific times on how you should do the brain dumping. But what I practise is to do it WEEKLY as I prepare for the week

It’s a different story when I’m in a state of overwhelm. When some things bugged me too much and kept me thinking as I’m about to sleep, I will do a quick brain dump.

As a chronic overthinker, brain dumping is essential. It is an outlet

So, you can do it daily, weekly, monthly or anytime you are feeling stuck with a problem or issue

some people even schedule the brain dump but I dont really practise it

What you need for brain dumping

  • Pen or pencil or anything to write with
  • Journal or Bullet Journal
  • Piece of paper
  • Brain dump journal

It’s not really necessary to use a separate journal for brain-dumping, but if you are used to having a separate journal for separate functions you can use your brain-dumping journal

How to do brain dumping?

1. Alone is better

Sit down at a place where you can be alone with your thoughts, uninterrupted. If you are living in a hectic household, just find a time when there is less distraction, which could be in the early morning or late at night

Extra point to make yourself comfortable, grab the tea, light the candle… you know the drill

2. Brain Dump It

Now you get the first step right, comes the most important part, dumping everything on the paper. You just have to write anything inside your head without thinking. In other words, WORD VOMIT. 

You can write in a long paragraph, a bulleted list, or whatever form you want..just write and write

3. No judgement, just write

Do not think about the structure, the weird sentence or how childish it might sound, just write it down. Do not worry about people’s assumptions about you, it is you vs your thought at that time

If anything crosses your mind at that time, do not think but instead write it down

List down one thought per bullet. Or if you write in longer sentences, just keep the separate problems/issue in a separate paragraph


  • Write down without thinking and write it quick
  • Do not reread your previous statement or sentence
  • Write until you run out of ideas and you feel like nothing else to write about

When you see all your issues and your problem that have cluttered your mind on that piece of paper or the notebook, you will feel a sense of relief or something unloaded from your mind.

The act of writing down the mental clutter in a form of a brain dump will help tremendously in terms of mental clarity. You will feel less bogged down with problem

Mel Robbins, explain this pretty accurately using the filled-up jar as an example. Listen to how she tackles the issue of overwhelms with a brain dump

If you are still unsure, you can follow her methods

Some people stop at this stage. And that’s ok. 

But for me, I will go another step.

4. Categorize  the  dump

Look at the list and first sort it out whether it’s just junk or an actual actionable item before categorizing the brain dump list

For each statement or list, I will categorise it based on a few categories that I think are relevant to my life at that point in time.

For example, my category will be Personal, Writing, Academics, Research

By doing this step, I can overview what is the thing that causes me to feel overwhelmed the most.

You can also identify a similar theme or issue that gets repeated using different phrases and words. So by doing this, the list will become more concise

You can colour-code it or maybe use other pages to tabulate the issues or problems you face at that time

Categorize it based on the importance level

Another way to categorize it is based on the importance of the to-do list.

Pick 3-4 highest important items on your list and act on that first. This item should prioritize your work and not other people’s agenda

But there is the probability your list is too extensive and there are too many projects that you have to handle simultaneously. I have been in that situation too 

so what is the solution? I highly suggest creating a Kanban board

Kanban Board

The Solution for unfinished multiple projects 

You can create this by dividing your bullet journal, notebook, whiteboard, or even your wall ( yes, wall!) into 3 separate parts: To-do, Doing and Done

As you complete or make small progress on a big project, you move that particular list or task to the next part.

As you do this step, you can actually view that you are actually making a progress and are less likely to feel overwhelmed

Most of the time as I checked my brain dump list, I will notice the thing that caused me to feel overwhelmed the most is, the unfinished project.

Multiple of them

So by using the kanban method, I can visualize the progression of the projects

Technically by doing brain dumping and categorizing the list based on the importance level and tracking the progress, you are actually taking an appropriate response and intervention to your problems rather than letting them simmer in your head feel miserable.

But, if you are still in a state of feeling too much, you dont have to do this step as you can come back to this step later

5. Review and reflect

The final step of my brain-dumping practice is to review and reflect.

This step is for me to really see how frequent I am feeling overwhelmed. If it happens too often, I will probably re-check and redo my goals and target. Sometimes, when I feel in the zone or motivated, I might overdo the planning part not realizing it will harm my future self.

Reflection also helps me see whether the thing that causing me problems (often) is something unimportant that can be ignored OR is something important that aligns with my goals and mission 

For example, sometimes things that nag too much in my head are the stuff that I can’t really control like how people perceive me or if people talk to me behind my back

It sounds so trivial, but as a recovering people pleaser like me, this will fill up my emotional and mental space which influences my mood and the overall outcome of my day.

So I will put this under the personal category. This means I will have to work on my personal growth or just avoid the situation in the first place.

If you are the type of person who planned out your goals weekly and monthly basis, the brain-dumping list should help you a lot

Review your goal, tasks or to-do list to make it balanced and not plan it too tight or rigid. Allow some room to breath

Okay, but if I dont feel overwhelmed want to brain-dump? 

Specific brain-dumping exercise

You can practise specific or focus brain dump exercises if you dont have many problems or issues or just want to do it for fun. This can be in form of a passion project or any aspect of your life that you are working with

But this usually involves the element of brainstorming as well

Brainstorming is the act of thinking about an idea that doesn’t exist, to begin with. It’s quite the opposite of brain dumping

For example, planning for your oversea trips might be on your brain dump list. Because you haven’t start done anything, the planning freak you out.

So what you can do is, write at top of your paper or journal the issue and write down the action plan

For example:


Followed by the list of things you have to do for the trip

  1. Book flight tickets
  2. Check air BnB/Hotel deals
  3. Check passport
  4. Do packing list

Once you have the list you can sort it to things that can be done immediately and probably can use a kanban board to visualize the progress

You can use targeted or specific brain dump exercises for basically everything. Planning for your wedding, for your presentation, etc

This is like a targeted action plan following your brain-dumping list

But what if you dont know what to write?

What to write during brain dumping?


From your work, personal as well as and emotional issue

If you follow the steps mentioned earlier, you will find out there is nothing you can’t write

But if you feel stuck, you can use prompts to spark or trigger your brain dumping. I dont usually use prompts because they required me to think about the answer. And brain dump is essentially writing down thoughts without thinking anything

But I understand as some of us might feel overwhelmed and stuck at the same that they dont know what to write. So brain dumping prompts might help them to kick start the dumping or writing process

Brain dump prompts

  • Am I happy or ok?
  • What is the pending task that has been bugging me for months?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how i will rate my life, and why?
  • Am I living the life I wanted?
  • Is my work feels too much?
  • Is there any task I have been avoiding? Why?
  • When was the last time I check on my family and friends?
  • What do I always think every day?
  • Am I living life in autopilot mode? How can I slow it down
  • Should I make that leap of faith to venture into the project I always want to do?
  • Am I taking care of myself well?

These are some examples that you can use to kick-start your brain dump exercise.

Remember, you dont need the prompt, to begin with. This is just to help if you feel stuck. It is better if you just write down the thoughts without much thinking

I am a terrible writer. I can’t write what I’m feeling, so how can I brain dump?

Brain dump alternative

You can doodle shapes and stuff or you can use colour to really let go of your thoughts. And you can see that once you let go some of the thoughts in the form of doodling or drawing, you begin to know how to write your thoughts

Brain dump bullet journal/ bujo brain dump

If you have a bullet journal, you can use it for a brain dump. That is what I like about bullet journal as it allows flexibility and modification according to our current needs.

How to use Bujo to brain dump?

There are a few ideas on how to do it

#1 Use the daily, weekly or monthly pages to brain dump. 

This is followed by categorizing the list and added to the future log, habit tracker, or goal list in your bullet journal.

But, do not put EVERYTHING on your to-do list. Just let the brain dump list simmer for quite some time and see whether you need to do it or it’s just junk that dont need attention, to begin with

Related posts:

#2 Create dedicated pages for the brain dump

If you dont like things messy, you probably can set aside a few pages in your bujo for a brain dump exercise. By doing this, you can see whether the things that nagging you is a repeated issues or just random junk

#3 Use a separate brain dump journal

There is probably a chance that you have a lot of thoughts and want to use a separate notebook just for a brain dump. You can use any notebook and write your thoughts away

Brain dump Journal ideas

If you are still unsure how to create the brain dump page in your journal, I have curated some ideas for you

*All credits go to the owner

Photo by @journalingwithnadia via Instagram

Photo by @myinkproject via Instagram

Photo by @letsliveandlearn via Instagram

Photo by @pisces.record via Instagram

Photo by @journalwithrae via Instagram

There you go, a few ideas for your brain dump pages. You can use any journal or even a bullet journal. Some people like to use paper and throw it out once the feeling settles, but for me, I prefer to do it in my bullet journal so I can revisit my thoughts later.

The next time you feel overwhelmed with stuff, you know what to do!

FAQ on brain dumping journal

Brain dump synonym

  • Thought purge
  • Word vomit
  • Random stuff list
  • Thought catcher
  • Brain drain
  • Mind musings

You can call it anything you want, the concept is similar, dumping your thoughts on a paper

What is a brain dump journal?

The journal you used to write down your thoughts, uninterrupted, unfiltered

This brain dump journal is intended to help you declutter your mind and lessen the feeling of anxiety or stress

You can use any notebook or notepad and as your brain dump journal

it’s a secret book of your thoughts

What is the brain dump strategy?

To quote Elsa from Frozen, ” Let it go”. That’s the best brain dump strategy.

The lesser you think, the better. That’s the first step of brain dumping.

when you want to move to the next step, organize the list and plan the action using the Kanban board

you can split it into two parts; a) Spill everything on the paper, the brain dump b) Plan the action using Kanban board

You can take your time before moving to the second part

What is the morning page brain dump?

If you are familiar with Julia Cameron’s morning pages journaling, The Artist Way Book, she recommends purging all your thoughts first thing in the morning.

This means that you just write whatever your thought is in the morning

That’s the morning page brain dump

By doing this, you sort of flush away your thoughts, perspective, and random junk you think of in the journal in the morning, so you can run your day with absolute mental clarity

and when you practise it daily, chances for you to feel overwhelmed lessen as you have done the thought purging every single morning!