Do a Brain Dump in Order to Combat Mental Clutter
Written by Lisa Montanaro | March 15, 2012

Many of my clients suffer from what I call “mental clutter.” Mental clutter can be described as all of the thoughts, ideas, tasks, to-do’s, projects, and reminders that are swimming around in your brain taking up precious space (or matter, to be more accurate). This type of mental clutter gets in the way of you being able to be productive, stay focused, and enjoy a sense of peace and relaxation. Mental clutter can seriously affect your sleeping and cause insomnia. Many of my clients lately have shared that they feel so anxious at night when going to bed as they have all of this mental clutter taking up real estate in their brain and they can’t seem to turn it off.

What to do? A Brain Dump!
A Brain Dump is a great way to take all of the mental clutter in your head and get it out. It is the first step in an effective time management and project management action plan. People get caught up in what system should be used to record the Brain Dump. The system you use to do your Brain Dump should be tailored to you. The main difference is whether you want to physically write your Brain Dump (paper) or record it electronically (technology).

Old Fashioned Paper Method

Many people are strong tactile learners and, therefore, still love the feel of pen to paper. It is quick and easy, doesn’t require any fancy gadgets or technology, and can be implemented anywhere. I encourage my clients that are tactile to keep a pad of paper on their nightstand and dump their brain onto it at night before they go to sleep. In the morning, you can tear off the top page (do not use a spiral pad or this gets messy), and incorporate the items into your Master Project List or Daily To-Do List depending on whether they are short term or long terms tasks. The disadvantage to pa per is that it is not easily backed-up, and can be lost.

If you keep a Master Notebook where you track all of your projects and to-do’s, then consider using that for your Brain Dump so that all of your project management is in one convenient location. It’s better than a bunch of post-it notes or scraps of paper!

If you want something to keep by your bed that lights up, but is still tactile with pen and paper, check out the Nite Note Nightime Notepad by Dream Essentials. The pad “lights up” when the pen is removed and “lights off” when the pen is replaced. Nite Note features a pressurized Fisher Space pen used by U.S. astronauts because it writes at any angle, even upside down. Pretty cool, huh?

Harness the Power of Technology

So many people are now using powerful smart phones that come with all of the bells and whistles. If you are using such a device, this can be an ideal place to capture your mental clutter because it is backed-up or synched, can be accessed from almost anywhere, and has an amazing amount of storage space. You can use a task feature, your calendar (make a recurring daily item called Brain Dump and put items in there so that they get carried over everyday), a memo feature, or any other type of feature that makes it easy for you to dump the mental clutter, easily access it again, and keep it organized. If you prefer to use an “app,” then consider applications like Evernote, Toodledo, One Note, Treepad, etc. You can even just open a Word doc on your computer, and dump your brain into that, dating each entry to be able to find them again, or organizing entries by category.

The power of a Brain Dump is to be able to keep track of tasks, ideas, and information that you are afraid you would otherwise forget if you don’t write them down or record them somewhere. There is no right or wrong way to do a Brain Dump. Determine what type of Brain Dump recording system appeals to you, and then try it. I promise you it will help free up some of that precious brain matter so that you can refocus it on implementing the tasks, living your life, or relaxing your overworked brain once in awhile!

Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.