When I first heard of brain-dumping, I didn't think much of it besides having questions about its strange name.
After reading up on it, however, I decided to give it a shot for a week. I found it worked better than I thought it would, helping me start my day on the right foot, organized and on top of the tasks ahead of me.
At its core, brain-dumping involves "dumping" all of the thoughts, worries, lingering questions, and to-dos in your head out onto paper or another medium, often with the goal of decluttering the mind or helping manage stress or anxiety.
"It can relieve a lot of anxiety, especially for people who constantly have racing thoughts or ruminations or people who tend to overthink things," psychologist Dr. Marsha Brown told Insider. "It takes those thoughts from their head so that they're not constantly bouncing around in there and it puts them somewhere, so they know they're not going to forget, that it's written down somewhere, and that it can be taken care of later."
Brain dumps are commonly done first thing in the morning or right before bed at night.
In the morning, the practice can help improve focus by reducing distractions, Dr. Brown says. At night, brain dumps can help quiet racing thoughts and turn your brain "off" so you can sleep.
For this week, I tried brain dumps in the morning, because I'm more interested in the potential benefits it can offer at that time of day. Each morning, I jotted down tasks for the day as well as other things on my mind. It helped to have everything in one place and to see all of my upcoming to-dos all at once so I could structure my day accordingly.
In my brain dumps, I also included questions that I kept dwelling on. By writing these down, it was like I was giving them somewhere else to go so they wouldn't take up space, brainpower, and energy in my head that could be better spent on other things.
Getting these questions down on paper essentially gave my mind the freedom to stop stressing about them, because I knew I was only shelving them temporarily and could come back to them later.
The brain dumps quickly synthesized my thoughts and tasks into a mini-snapshot of my day so I could prioritize accordingly based on the things I had to do and the questions I had to have answered.
They were so helpful for me in the mornings that I found myself doing them before bed as well, without even planning to do so. On a Post-It or index card, I'd scribble down things on my mind that I had to tend to the next day and put the piece of paper on my laptop lid so I'd see it first thing in the morning. It was nice to start the next morning organized and ready for the day ahead.
At the end of the week, I was glad I tried brain-dumping. It's not as unpleasant as its name suggests, and it's way more helpful.