The Transformative Power of Brain Dumping


July 1, 2023

Your life will never be the same after you read this article.

I’m about to give you a tool you can use anytime (and anywhere) to help you solve any problem. All you need is a few minutes, a pen, and a notebook. Let me introduce my favorite habit:

Brain dumping. It’s a better form of journaling – kinda like Journaling 2.0.

There are countless journals we can get. Each has its own special system promising to make you more productive. I’ve tried many of those journals. Back in 2018, when I was finishing my last year of engineering school, I used one called the Panda Planner. It worked well – when I used it, that is.

These special journals sound cool. We buy one, we vow to use it, but then… after a week (or less) it sits around collecting dust instead of thoughts. The problem with these journals isn’t the idea of journaling. It’s that these journals overcomplicate the practice of journaling, and so, we fall off the habit and we don’t reap its many rewards.

What if I told you there was a simpler way? It’s free. It’s simple. It’s easy to turn into a habit. It’s something you can do with things you already have.

Plus it’s proven, through my personal experience and that of my dozens of coaching clients, to quickly give you the powerful benefits of journaling.

Introducing Brain Dumping

Brain dumping at its core is deceptively straightforward. I challenge you to try it right after you finish reading this email. All you do is:

• Grab a pen and paper

• Set a timer for 3 to 10 minutes

• Write down anything on your mind til the timer ends

That’s the core of it. You’re probably thinking “how could this possibly help me?” But I’ve found it’s often the small habits that give us the biggest benefits.

The Benefits of Brain Dumping

Brain dumping has three major benefits:

1) It makes you more productive

I bet you’re feeling like you’re drowning in a sea of to-dos. It’s hard to keep track of everything. It’s almost impossible to work or relax because you have so much on your mind. You’re overwhelmed and underachieving.

Writing down everything on your mind helps clear your mind. Then you can focus your mind on what you need to be doing right now. Tip: Try doing brain dumping shortly before you go to bed. You’ll find it’s much easier to get to sleep.

2) It helps you work through problems

Imagine a time when you were talking to another person about a problem you were having. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an idea popped into your head. The other person didn’t even have to say anything helpful.

(shout out to my mom who always patiently listens to my problems)

Communicating something causes your brain to put the pieces of that something together in different ways. This increases the chance of your brain coming up with new ideas for solving the problem.

When you’re writing something down, you’re communicating it to your paper. So, as you write, you’ll find yourself having new ideas. My fellow software engineers call this rubber duck debugging. Some developers literally have a rubber duckie (yes, like the ones you’d find in a bathtub) sitting on their desk. When they get stuck on a problem they can’t figure out, they’ll start talking (out loud) to the duck, explaining the problem at hand.

Then, like magic, they’re suddenly hit with a breakthrough idea.

3) It helps you bring order to chaos

The result of your brain dump will likely be a chaotic mess. But what should you do with the mess on the page? Don’t just leave it there. Let’s go a step further. Organize what you wrote into categories like:

• Work

• Health

• School

• Business(es)

• Relationships

This helps you see what is (and what isn’t) a priority action item in each category.

The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard

When I talk about brain dumping, I often get asked “Should I brain dump by typing or writing?”

Writing by hand is technically better. It’s more complex because it takes more physical effort, thought, and awareness than typing on a keyboard. Research associates writing by hand to improvements in:

• Memory

• Creativity

• Understanding

• Problem solving

• Information processing

However… The best way to do brain dumping is the way you’ll actually do it on a consistent basis. Even though writing by hand is technically better, if you only have time to type a brain dump, that’s still infinitely better than nothing.

Try brain dumping once a day for the next seven days. I promise your life will be noticeably better.


PS: Did you know listening to instrumental music while you work increases your productivity? Here’s my absolute favorite thing to listen to (I was listening to it while writing this article).

Joey Justice

A purple brain here to make your brain better.