(• Reading Time: 4 minutes •)

It's tempting to try to keep things in your head.

But don't.

If you want to feel less stressed and feel more in control, you need to empty your mind more.

This has multiple benefits.

1. You'll forget less

How many times have you planned to pick up milk from the grocery store on your way back home? And then it completely skips your mind until it's time for coffee the next morning. Having a Mind Dump List will help you plan out a reminder to avoid this issue.

2. To reduce your worrying

Whenever I start working on a project, a bazillion next list of things to do crop up. When this happens, I open my Google Keep and start typing away.

Every time I don't dump these next items out of my head, I start to worry more and more that I'm forgetting things.

This worrying blows past the roof when someone I'm working with reminds me: "hey, we're still waiting on you." Ugggh. I forgot. I knew it. But I can't admit that for the third time, it makes me look bad.

So I play it off as something I'm already working on. But remain worried that I'll forget something soon.

These days, I add items in my Mind Dump as soon as they come up and have my mind like water.

3. It helps define your next actions

If you don't have a mind dump list, you can't plan out your next actions.

The problem is this opens you up to reactive moves––whatever others throw at you is what you follow.

“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” - Yogi Berra

I see this all the time. Open your email and bam start replying to people.

End of day, you're exhausted and annoyed because you did none of the important work.

Instead, become proactive.

I start my day by going through my mind dump list, defining next actions, and narrowing down on the ones I'll focus on. My list sets the tone for the day and keeps me grounded even when reactive tasks come up.

On busy days, I sometimes lose track of what's next.

No biggie.

I turn to my keep and look through my next actions for the day. If my next actions are complete, I return to my mind dump list and generate more.

The power of falling back on my list is that it is part of a system for staying in tune regardless of the chaos of the world.

You need one too. Create your mind dump list not tomorrow, not later, now.

So how do you create a mind dump list?

  1. Open up your favorite todo app (e.g. Google Keep)
  2. Next, create a new checklist and title it 'Mind Dump'
  3. Finally, type out everything that comes to your mind.

Remember, your list should cover everything. For example:

Mind Dump List
  ⬜ buy milk 
  ⬜ start project X
  ⬜ pay phone bill
  ⬜ call mom (I really should)
  ⬜ watch The Umbrella Academy
  ⬜ plan a hike with Parker!
  ⬜ ...

You get the idea.

Don't worry about crossing items on this list.

It's like your mind, it's never empty.

But from this list you can begin to plan with efficiency other areas of your life.

If you need more control and less chaos, the mind dump list is your first stop.

Thanks for reading

  • FREE Cheatsheet: I help new programmers and junior devs focus on what matters instead of endless trial and error. If you're interested in boosting your confidence and skills, checkout our free cheatsheet.
  • Follow on Twitter: Have a question, I'm most active on Twitter – feel free to reach out to me. My DM is open.

Heads Up - I love research so I tend to back my advice and approach with concepts from Behavioral Psychology and Neuroscience.