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The Brain Dump Method of Productivity (and a FREE Printable!)

Use the brain dump method of productivity with our free printable, which can help you make the most of your time and feel less overwhelmed!

Free Printable Blank List, Perfect for the Brain Dump Method of Productivity

Sometimes life just feels crazy. As I type this, we are in the midst of a summer full of back to back to back to back trips.

When we made our summer plans, somehow we didn’t realize that we scheduled so much time away for various conferences, family events, and vacations, but it has been a little nuts to say the least.

I am definitely not complaining at all. It has been so fun to spend time with my boys, visit with blog friends, and get good quality time with family. This summer has been a fun adventure, truly.

But quite honestly, with trying to juggle work and life, there have been a few nights where I’ve had trouble sleeping because all of the little details and “to dos” have been swirling around in my head, and I’m afraid I’m going to forget something important.

The Brain Dump Method of Productivity

I was tired of losing sleep, so I came up with a super simple solution: the brain dump. Before I went to bed at night, I took out one of my blank notes printables, divided it into categories, and wrote down everything I could think of that I needed to do in each category.

I love having one place where I can see everything I need to do, and it gives me peace of mind that I won’t forget anything. (And I am able to sleep better too!)

It would usually take me a few days to work through everything on my list. Then when I had completed all of the tasks, I would do another brain dump and start the process over again.

Free Printable Blank List, Perfect for the Brain Dump Method of Productivity

What is a brain dump list?

A brain dump list is simply where we dump everything out of our brains onto a piece of paper in order to prioritize our tasks. It’s funny how many little tasks that may be simple and easy clutter our thought process leaving us feeling overwhelmed!

There’s no right or wrong way to make the list. Personally, I like creating categories, then listing each task underneath. From there, I can number my tasks to prioritize them if I want, making it easy to decide what to tackle first.

The whole purpose of this method is to decrease stress and become more productive. That’s why I only take 10 to 15 minutes to make my list.

What happens after the brain dump?

Now it’s time decide when and how I’ll complete my tasks. This may look different depending on what the brain dump is for.

When the items on my list are work related, deadlines may organize the importance of tasks.

If the items on my list are related to my home life and kids’ schedules, it may be best to transfer specific dates and times to a planner, then knock out the to-dos one by one.

When it comes to vacations, packing can be overwhelming, so the brain dump could be used to double check that we don’t miss anything before pulling out of the driveway.

Free Printable Blank List, Perfect for the Brain Dump Method of Productivity

Break down the bigger brain dump into shorter lists.

While us supermoms all deserve a cape, sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done.

So instead of making an über-long daily list that we all know will never get completed, I like to choose 5 to 7 tasks to tackle each day. To our brains, this is far more manageable. We also get validation when we check these things off compared to the disappointment we may feel looking at an uncompleted list.

Delegate and Declutter

Once the list is categorized, determine if there are any pressing tasks that someone else can help with. For simple household chores, kids can pitch in! When it comes to transportation, is your spouse or a grandparent able to help to taxi the kids back and forth?

We can also declutter our list. Not everything we feel like we should do always has to get done right now. Are there items that aren’t urgent and can be removed from our list for the moment?

Maybe there are things that others want us to do for them that we really don’t have time for in this season. Those are things we can politely decline to make more time for the things that truly matter to us. They can then be removed from our list as well.

This method so simple, but it was truly has been one of the most helpful tools to get me through this period of craziness!

If you want to give the brain dump method a try, I’m giving you the pretty printable that I used to make my lists– for free, of course! You can snag it below:

Free Printable Blank List, Perfect for the Brain Dump Method of Productivity

Click here to download the FREE printable blank notes page!

I hope the brain dump method will help you organize your thoughts, prioritize your tasks, and accomplish more in your days. You’ve got this!

The Brain Dump Method of Productivity: Frequently Asked Questions

While there is no right or wrong answer, I use the brain dump method any time I have a ton of to-dos swirling around in my head. When it starts to cause worry or sleep loss, it’s time!

Other times that brain dumps come in handy are when big decisions need to be made, preparing for the week ahead, or when that long to-do list just needs to be organized.

Bullet journals are blank pages that journalers can customize any way they want. Most people who love the art of bujo really enjoy color, stickers, planning, and stationary in general. They will often create charts and graphs to help track their habits, to-dos, and day to day planning. Think of bullet journaling as a more artsy form of the printable template I shared above!

You can learn more about bullet journaling in this post.

Are you a list maker? Or do you prefer just to wing it? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy planning, friends!



  1. Sarah @The Teacher's Wife says:

    I’m a big fan of the brain dump method myself, but I love that you included your printable! Sometimes just getting down on paper frees up so much space in your bran!! 🙂 Have fun on all of your trips! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Sarah! I so agree! Just getting it all out helps so much! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  2. This is my favorite way to make a list! Ha! Seriously just did this a couple of days ago when we got back from vacation. I was feeling very overwhelmed, and it was nice to get it all out of my head and on paper. Seems much more manageable now!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Totally agree, Denise! Just getting it all out there helps so much!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Paula Williams says:

    I make list for everything and it helps me not to feel so overwhelmed I use to just write on paper but abby’s free printables have changed my life!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are too sweet, Paula! So glad they are helpful for you!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Laine - Luna Lavande says:

    I definitely “brain dump” too, but I tend to do it in the Notes app on my iPhone because I’m rarely at home when the ideas and reminders pop up in my head. I think I need to have all my ideas and to-do’s next to each other in a list, so I’ll be printing this out and writing everything from my notes down. I’ll feel much more put-together with everything in one place, I think. This is really helpful, thank you! ♥

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you! The notes app is a great idea too! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  5. Christene Holder says:

    I’m just like you. I feel like when there’s a million things running through my head I can’t focus on the current task or just relaxing. Brain dump is crutial! I use an app on my phone to list off all the things running through my head and then sort them all later. It’s nice to just get everything onto “paper.”

    Your summer does sound so crazy, but it’s all good stuff. Just lots of stuff :). Just remember it’s only a season and it’s not going to last forever. You will be back on track during the next “season” and into your new home (which I can’t want to see BTW)! Hope you have fun at the Haven conference next weekend. I would love love love to go but I’m still a newbie this year and it just wasn’t an option for me at this point (the cost plus taking time off of work etc.) I really want to try and go next year.

    >> Christene @ Keys to Inspiration

  6. This sounds like such a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing all of your organization tips and printables with us- even when you are going through such a busy summer. I think this brain dump printable will be so so so helpful as I am quite a forgetful person (lol!). I have been known to write reminders for myself to do things on the back of a napkin or the palm of my hand, but my problem with that is they always end up lost or washed away, and I think this will be a perfect solution for that.
    I am also actually very excited for this coming school year thanks to your student binder printable, and have been inspired to clean out and organize my bedroom and closet after reading some of your posts. So a huge thank you once again for sharing with us!
    Oh and sorry to bother you, but I was wondering what fonts you used in the student binder printable? I am absolutely in love with it and would love to use it to make some labels for my art supplies:)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Harmony! The print font for the Student Binder is Futura. SignPainter is the cursive one. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Thank you so much Abby for the reply- that will definitely help a TON! Sorry for the bother, and have a great rest of the summer;)

  7. Vicki Bray says:

    This will come in so handy. We are working on building a home too. Nothing like waking up at 3:00 in the morning wondering how that streamlined toilet is installed! LOL Thanks so much!

  8. I literally have a list like that on my counter right now! I love the brain dump! I do it all. the. time. I have to in order to maintain my sanity. But mine usually just ends up on a blank piece of paper, so thanks for the pretty printable! I can’t wait to use it. ?


    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it will be helpful for you, Liz! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  9. Katelynn Fortier says:

    I am getting ready to start college in a few weeks and I have been looking for a printable made for brain dumps. I love your printables it is always so pretty and colorful!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad you like them, Katelynn! Have a great year at college!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Hi Abby,
    I absolutely know how powerful doing a “brain dump” is, I don’t always remember to do it. Thanks for the timely reminder.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Josie! Happy Friday!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Patricia Hidalgo says:

    Abby, those pictures of your binders make me so happy – I guess I’m a true organization junkie! Question – how do you print so many pretty things without breaking the bank on ink? Do you have any suggestions for those of us who are just running a household rather than a blog biz? Thanks! =)

    ~ Patricia

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Patricia! At this point I know which pages I use most often, so I just print those for my own use rather than every single thing in the binder, so that helps. I talk about how I decide which printable to use in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBH7s6Sts38 . I hope this helps!

      ~Abby =)

  12. This is a great plan and one that I use often. I like to start with this, and then prioritize items when I need to finish them. It helps to see the whole picture!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      It really does!!

      ~Abby =)

  13. Sometimes the list is “ugly” but at least you can put it on a lovely template! Thanks so much Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Very true! Love that way of looking at it! 🙂 Have a great day, Bev!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Beth Price-Almeida says:

    Lines, glorious lines! I do NOT understand how anyone can do a brain dump even resembling straight without lines! Love this. Thanks!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Haha! I agree, Beth! The lines definitely help! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

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