You don’t have to be in ministry for very long before overwhelm creeps in. Post-its, emails, phone notes, and your mind’s eye are just a few of the ways you’re attempting to retain information and develop ideas. Add in the people who stop you in the lobby after church and your family’s weekly schedule and you aren’t sure if you’re coming or going. You resonate with the phrase “brain fried” all too often. Organizing your mind may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider taking the time for a brain dump.
What is a brain dump?
A brain dump is simply the act of noting down all the thoughts and ideas in one’s head.
Why do a brain dump?
If you don’t write it down, you just won’t remember it. Plain and simple. But more than that, when you get your thoughts and ideas on paper or on screen, you see the bigger picture. When you clear out space in your mind it frees you to focus on the items that matter most.
How should you do a brain dump?
A brain dump doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply:
- Choose your bucket. Where are you going to collect your thoughts? This will look different for everyone. My weapon of choice is a giant whiteboard, give me two and I can change the world. You might take pen to paper or keep a note on your phone. Whichever you choose, just be sure you can see all your thoughts together.
- Set a timer. Decide ahead of time that you are going to take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour to just get all of your thoughts out.
- Don’t over think it. Literally dump out your thoughts in any order that they come out. Don’t worry about organizing anything into categories. You will be amazed at how much relief comes from getting thoughts out of your brain and onto paper.
- Walk away. Once you get all of your thoughts out. Take a break.
- Prioritize. Now that all your thoughts are on paper, take time to flag the items that need immediate attention, scale them down until you have a plan and categorize.
When should you do a brain dump?
You might benefit from doing a mini brain dump every morning when you arrive at the office to clear your mind and organize your day. Or it might serve you better to do a monthly or quarterly brain dump. As an administrative assistant to a Senior Pastor, I find that doing a weekly brain dump keeps communication lines open and expectations clear. The frequency of a brain dump is up to you. Here are a few instances that could warrant a brain dump:
- When you’re planning your day
- When you feel like you have a lot on your plate
- When your schedule is packed
- When you feel motivated
- When you’re planning a new year
- When you’re planning an event
- When you’re creating a budget
- After you’ve dropped the ball
- When you feel unorganized
- When you become avoidant of tasks
- When you learn something new
- When you hire someone new
Our brains are incredible machines. A heavy load on any machine will weigh it down. The Bible tells us to let all things be done decently and in order (I Corinthians 14:40). Take 5 minutes or more this weekend to give a brain dump a try. It could boost your productivity, lower your stress, and help you be a better steward of the ministry God has given you.