Weekly Brain Dump for Productivity – Declutter Your Mind efficiently

Weekly Brain Dump for Productivity – Declutter Your Mind Efficiently

How to Do a Brain Dump

In a busy week, it can be hard to keep focus.

We’ve all been there: We run around, get random stuff done here and there, overwhelmed by the never-ending to-do list, and with the lingering feeling that we didn’t get the right tasks done.

We can lose track, stop to feel grateful, or simply feel in a slump.

Even the easiest tasks get really overwhelming when there are just too many of them to keep track of!

Are you overwhelmed?

Reflect for a minute if one or more of those symptoms apply to you:

  • You are feeling overwhelmed by all the thoughts and ideas flying through your head
  • You have a hard time focusing on one task at a time
  • You don’t know what you should focus on
  • You have a hard time remembering to do something important
  • You are busy but don’t know what are the top important tasks to complete
  • You forget simple things in your every day that you would normally easily remember to do
  • You are feeling tired only by the thought of tackling your to-do list



A big stress relief - why brain dumping helps


How to brain dump - An easy step-by-step guide


Step 1: Get ready


Step 2: Get clear on what you need to dump


Step 3: write down everything that swirls around your head (a.k.a the messy list)


Step 4: Step back and see the big picture


Step 5: Structure your list


Step 6: Fill in the missing tasks


Step 7: Transfer your list into a to-do list


Regular brain dumps will help you stay on track

A Big Stress Relief – Why Brain Dumping Helps

If you find yourself overwhelmed, it might be time for a brain dump.

A brain dump is an effective way to declutter your mind and increase productivity.

Writing down and organizing your to-dos might be the quickest way to reduce stress.

Or at least to de-stress enough so that you can start working productively.

Without the fear that you miss something important, just because you’re too overwhelmed.


Regular brain dump helps with your self-awareness, with being able to set realistic goals and to calculate time realistically (we tend to underestimate and fill our to-do list too much).

How to reduce anxiety with the habit of a weekly to do list

Having a clear mind after a comprehensive brain dump might help you get better rest, sleep more relaxed, and clear brain fog.

And in my opinion, all of these advantages are a big step towards good mental health.



Going into your brain dump exercise, it’s important to note that there’s no right or wrong way of doing it.

It really doesn’t matter at all if you do your brain dumps on a blank piece of paper, into a brain dump notebook, or even on your computer or phone. If you’re working with Post-it notes, a mind map, or a to-do list.

What’s important is the act of relieving your brain of all that’s floating around.

So let’s get to work:

How to brain dump – An easy step-by-step guide

Brain dumping involves writing down everything that comes to your mind, to clear up space in your head for more creative thinking.

There are multiple steps involved in an effective brain dump.

But don’t worry, once you have a bit of practice, you will find yourself completing them organically and in much less time than it might take you the first few times.


This article is your step-by-step guide on how to do a brain dump efficiently and effectively.

Productivity helper - weekly to do list

Your weekly brain dump


You have a busy week ahead of you, feel overwhelmed, want to clear your mind, or simply want to get into the habit of regular weekly brain dumping


You will get your to-do list for this week and have your tasks organized.

This will help you stop worrying that you forget important things, and free your brain from fog and overwhelm.



You dump all your thoughts and to-dos on a blank page, organize the list and create a to-do list with actionable steps.

Find more methods in my other article about brain dumping:

brain dump 4 methods - link image -XS

Step 1: Get ready

To do a brain dump, get a pen and a piece of paper and sit down comfortably.

If you want, put on relaxing music, make sure you have comfortable lighting (not too bright and not too dark), grab a tea or coffee and take a big breath.


Clearing your mind is a way of self-care.

And while it’s totally not necessary to light candles, tidy your space, design a cute bullet journal and make barista-level foam art in your coffee – like on those idealistic self-care photos on social media – you should give yourself space and create a stress-free moment for your brain dump.

How to declutter your mind efficiently with a brain dump

Step 2: Get clear on what you need to dump

For this example, let’s focus on your to-dos for the week.

  • write your headline topic for the list. In this case, “To do list [week X or start date – end date]”
  • If you know of sub-topics, write their headlines as well. Sub-topics could be priorities, different projects or parts of your life, or different type of activities 
  • If you don’t have any specific sub-topics, that’s totally fine! This exercise will help you get organized.

Step 3: write down everything that swirls around your head (a.k.a the messy list)

Now start writing a list.

Clear your mind and put all those tasks, to-dos, projects, agenda entries, and anything else that will need your attention that week to paper!

Think of the nagging random thoughts that you had earlier. All those thoughts that kept you from sleeping in the past few days.


If you have sub-topics listed, fill in per sub-topic.

If not, you might find a specific category by looking at your list in the next step.

Don’t worry to make a clean version yet.

It’s ok if this list is messy and all over the place.

It’s your working tool to come up with an organized list in a few minutes.


Write your list until you feel that you have let it all out.


Tip: If you have a hard time focusing on writing things down efficiently, or even on completing the brain dump, try to give yourself a time limit, to create the needed urgency.


But don’t pressure yourself to come up with a complete list.

Weekly Brain Dump for Productivity

Step 4: Step back and see the big picture

Pause your mind dump, make a short break (can be as simple as looking up and taking a few deep breaths), then come back to the list.


You will most likely find patterns, topics, or sequences that repeat themselves.


Note down each particular topic that you observe (like a table of contents), or highlight your sub-category titles if you have noted them earlier.


Sub-topics could be


  • urgent
  • to do this week
  • not urgent

Different projects or parts of your life, for example

  • project A
  • project B
  • an upcoming event or special occasion
  • personal errands
  • hobbies

different types of activities or places where you complete these activities, for example

  • on my desk
  • around the house or office
  • grocery list
  • meetings
  • going to other places

Or ideas that swirl in your mind.


Patterns could be related to time, for example

  • tasks for every day
  • tasks for every month
  • random non-repeating tasks

or related to how much or which type of energy you need for them, for example

  • hard tasks
  • easy to-dos
  • tasks that need focus
  • tasks that include communicating with people
  • tasks to complete by myself


Sequences could be

  • daily to-dos (for example grocery shopping – cooking – hobbies)
  • repeated tasks within your work (for example taking photos – editing – posting to social media)
  • one-time tasks within your projects

Step 5: Strucutre your list

In this step, we organize our list.


You will most likely find yourself losing the overview over your first draft list at this point, so simply re-write the list in a more structured way.

Alternatively, continue with your original list and highlight with different colors.


Note down your sub-topics on your list or on a fresh piece of paper.


Collect your points under each sub-headline or color code / mark them on your existing list.

tip for quick brain dump - color code to do list

Step 6: Fill in the missing tasks

Now that you have your tasks and topics in front of you, organized by category, it will be easier to fill in the missing parts.


Question if all topics relevant for you at the moment are captured.

Think of every sub-topic and check if the listed tasks are complete for this week or if there are missing tasks.

Go through the sequence in your head (for example your day/week, next project phase) and complement by writing down the tasks that are not yet captured.


Also, think of events in the future that need your action now or backward planning to define when action is needed (for example project deadlines, private events).

Step 7: Transfer your list into a to-do list

Your list is done (for the moment) so transfer your brain dump list into a to-do list. 

This is the clean list that you will work with during the week.


Structure the to-do list either

…around the days of the week – makes sense if you have fixed times and actions that need to happen before, during, and after the fixed times, such as

  • daily and weekly tasks
  • events
  • meetings

…around the sequence in which you want or need to complete different topics:

  • your day’s structure, for example, morning, afternoon, evening
  • the workflow of your projects

…around the difficulty, amount of focus, time, or mental energy needed, for example

  • hard to easy; doable tasks to ones that need more research
  • laser focus on things you can do on autopilot
  • quick to long; two-minute tasks to day- or even week-filling things (long ones you might need to break down further)
  • “get stuff done” mode vs. creative mode
How to write a to do list

Yay, you have successfully completed your brain dump! 

Congrats on pushing through!


Work with your list in your day-to-day.

With your brain dump notes at hand, go through the upcoming week and tick off the tasks as you complete them, add things to your list; simply use and work with it.


Where to best put a to do list

I find it helpful to put the list somewhere where you see it multiple times a day, for example on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, or on your desk.

from brain dump to weekly to do list

Regular brain dumps will help you stay on track

Making your brain dumps a habit will totally transform your life and productivity if you’re anything like me.

I observe that I get more new ideas, have more energy, and feel a lot less overwhelmed with regular brain dumps.


With exercise, you will also find that a productive brain dump doesn’t have to take long.

Especially if you’re in a routine and know your big-picture topics (the structure of your list), it might take less than two minutes to come up with a pretty comprehensive list that sets you up for a good start into the week.

Another important note: You can work on your list ongoingly. Don’t feel stressed to write a complete list for your week Monday morning. Just add and change things as the week unfolds.


Over time, you might also want to observe if brain dumping brings you mental health benefits, maybe even by tracking your mental health conditions objectively if that’s a topic of interest to you.


Sometimes it’s the seemingly small things, like clearing your brain, gratitude journaling, or a few moments of mindfulness each day that ground you and set you up for positive thinking and feeling productive.

to do list tips
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Weekly Brain Dump for Productivity – Declutter Your Mind Efficiently

May 18, 2023 | My Productivity Secrets, PRODUCTIVITY

by Corinne

by Corinne

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