use a brain dump journal

How to Use A Journal to Do a Brain Dump

A brain dump journal is exactly what it sounds like. You make some time for you to sit and dump out, in writing, drawings, voice notes, whatever has been in your brain. Get it out. Get it on paper, so you can reflect and work through all these ideas and thoughts! Why don’t we explore how to use a brain dump journal.

How to Use A Journal to Do a Brain Dump

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It’s always good idea to do a brain dump in your journal. Personally, I see it as a form of self care. Often, we’re too busy doing things that we forget about the things going on inside our heads, and it can be hard to remember all those random thoughts when you finally have some time to yourself. Writing them down helps you get all of those thoughts out of your head, so they don’t keep bothering you and weighing on your mind!

Some people have a specific brain dump journal – or a list Journal – but you can just use your normal journals if you wish. Or if you love bullet journaling, you could have a brain dumping section. There are no rules.

Imagine it is a bit like Dumbledore and his Pensieve. Sometimes, there is no more room for new thoughts, and you have to take some of the old ones out to look at them from different perspectives and, a lot of the time, come up with new ideas or solutions to ‘problems’ you didn’t know you could think up! 

“When my brain gets cluttered and I start to feel overwhelmed and restless; when I have trouble focusing on today’s tasks because my brain keeps running through a list of all the other things I need to accomplish on other days; when I get grumpy and start to snap at people, I know it’s time for a brain dump. It’s time to declutter my brain so I can think clearly again.” Stationery Nerd

How to Use A brain dump journal

I’m pleased to say that the brain dump exercise is super duper simple. You might have noticed, but I do love me a Journal. So, grab your journal, or some paper, your laptop, or whatever medium you want to work with, and find some space.

Do you have an intention for this exercise? Do you want to work out what you need to do this week, or are you feeling a bit fragile and need to work through some emotions? Or, do you have no idea what you want to achieve and just want to see what comes up?

There is no wrong answer, so make a drink, put some music on if that’s your style, or sit in comfortable silence and… start writing.

How to Use A Journal to Do a Brain Dump

It doesn’t need to be eloquent; it just needs to make sense to you. Start writing and just keep going until you stop! Don’t overthink it; just let it all spill out. No one will be reading these pages, so write whatever you want to on it. I know from experience, once I’ve got out the most bothersome/worrisome/tricksy things from my mind… my shoulders relax, and I feel like I can breathe deeply again.

Once you have got it all out of your head, choose to take a few minutes before you reread it if you like – this can sometimes be an emotional process. And sometimes I find myself needing to take a step back and shake it out before I read what I’ve written down.

Humans aren’t so good at letting trapped energy flow through them, so sometimes shaking your body out can release that tension we have been holding and doing it at the same time as this cathartic exercise… chef’s kiss.

Brain dumping also helps you organize your time and efforts. Meaning you usually are much more productive and calmer too.” Diary of a Journal Planner

Ok, so I’ve written everything down. Now what?

The key to use a brain dump journal is reading what you’ve written. Doing this can help organise the fluid writing you have just done into some more structured ideas or reflections.

If your intention when you started was to come up with an ‘action plan’ of how to achieve, let’s say, moving house – maybe take a fresh bit of paper and, as you read through, identify the key ‘themes’. For example;

I need to pack the house up and get rid of what I don’t want or need anymore.

Two key themes are identified, packing and clearing out. So, start a list for Packing and Clearing and then write down what you need to achieve to do these tasks. An example could be:


  • Get boxes
  • Get bubble wrap
  • Get tape
  • Enlist people to help/contact removal companies for quotes as we are all too old to move for payment in beer and pizza
  • Get a chunky marker pen to write on the boxes


  • List what don’t I need/want to take with me
  • How to get rid of items? 
  • Use FB Market Place 
  • Ask friends 
  • Take stuff to charity shops 
  • Do I need a skip?

And remember, you don’t need to do this all at once; you can brain dump, read through and jot out your key themes and then come back to it if you are a reflector and need time to think about ‘how’.

If you’re a do-er, go nuts and do it all in one brain dump journal session

I would advise, though, to try and complete this exercise within a few hours so you don’t lose the fantastic momentum you gained by brain dumping it all out. You’ll be surprised at how liberating it can be.

An effective brain dump is an excellent way to get thoughts out of your head and onto paper. It’s also a great way to organise your thoughts, make plans, or solve problems. If you are feeling overwhelmed with life at the moment, try to use a brain dump journal.

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