Do you have too many thoughts chasing each other around in your head? Want to take an inventory of current ideas, seeing if anything brilliant or creative resides among them? Do you need to focus but feel too distracted and scatterbrained to do so?
Try doing a "brain dump". It's refreshing, relaxing and invigorating. Here's how:
1. Set aside one hour. (Not ten minutes, not thirty minutes — a complete sixty minutes!) Get an egg timer, kitchen timer or other alarm and set it so you don't have to watch the clock.
2. Grab a notebook and pen. Find a comfortable place where you can think and write and draw. Make sure this place is as far away from your computer as you can possibly get. (If you must sit at your computer desk and cannot move your computer, turn it off and place fabric or other covering over it so you cannot see it.)
3. Set your timer.
4. Start writing, stream of consciousness. Try to write as fast as you can, taking everything that pops to mind and writing it in your notebook. Don't question it, just get those thoughts out. Keep going. Don't worry about neatness of handwriting, or if what you're writing makes sense — just keep dumping those thoughts. Keep writing until you feel that your thoughts are running out. This might be two minutes, it might be twenty. When you feel like you're done, then you're done.
5. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in slowly, breathe out slowly. Close your eyes, and breathe in and out slowly again. Turn to a blank page in your notebook.
6. Stare at the blank page. It's OK if it's scary at first, just make sure you continue to look at it. Then write or draw the first thing that starts to arrive through your pen.
7. Sketch. Doodle. Write. Whatever comes through your pen, poetry or prose or random words, continue to follow it. Play. Relax. Don't evaluate it, don't judge it. Just let it flow out. Definitely take short breaks, get up and stretch, walk around the room, look out the window, or get something to drink during this time. Then quickly come back to the notebook. Stare at another blank page for as long as you need to. If you don't draw or write anything, this is OK, too. Stay with your notebook and pen for the full hour.
8. Stop when the timer or alarm rings. Close your notebook and put your pen down. Close your eyes, breathe in and out slowly again, with your hands on your closed notebook.
9. You've now completed your brain dump. Go about your day or evening. Look back through brain dump pages whenever you want to. What's there? Anything you'd like to build on? Anything brilliant or creative, surprising or interesting?
10. Repeat as often as you want.
If you try this brain dump technique, feel free to leave a comment and let us know how it went for you.