Feeling scattered and overwhelmed?

This time of year starts to feel a little hectic to me. We have Purim costumes, party, seudah (festive meal), holiday plans, mishloach manot (Purim gifts of food), and more to fit into the everyday sprint that many of our lives are. And I’m not even talking about Passover yet!

This morning, I started unloading the dishwasher, ran out to refill an empty box of cereal, got out vitamins, put away some Shabbos dishes, continued unloading the dishwasher, heard the ding and ran down to switch out the laundry, brought up the girls’ Shabbos dresses to their room, remembered the dishwasher…

Or…I know I need to actually get the mishloach manot started since we’re out of town for this Shabbos and coming back late on Saturday. And we’re having guests for the seudah on Purim, so I should really have that planned and my shopping list ready. Oh, and my soon-to-be bar mitzvah boy has been asking for a new suit. And we need a packing list for the craziness that will be this weekend. And a present for the honoree. And although I’ve thought a bit about each of these things, I haven’t started really planning them.

When I start a bunch of things and move on to other things OR can barely start things, I know. It’s time for a brain dump.

Brain dump

A brain dump is really useful for getting all the things buzzing around your head out onto paper. It’s like taking all the swirling things you feel like you have to remember out so you can pick through them and examine them without being able to forget them. They are on paper! Once they are out of your head,  you can organize them and get some clarity about what you need to do.

It’s really simple (but powerful!). Take a notebook, looseleaf paper, whatever. I like a bound notebook I have been using for bullet journaling – more on that another time. But get a notebook you can carry easily.

Sit down for a few minutes and just list whatever comes to your mind. All the things above are on my list. Whatever comes up in whatever order. Just write it all down right away – if you don’t it’s likely to get sucked back in. If you have to go somewhere, take your notebook because things will occur to you then, too. Just keep writing it all down as it comes – even over the course of a couple of days!

Also, gather any papers and calendars you have and add them to your brain dump list.

I try to take some time at the beginning to really go through my list of categories because I find it helps me corral those thoughts, and then just add in anything else as it comes. I tend to do this several times a year, and around now, even more often.

Start looking through your list for things that need immediate attention, and write a to-do list from there. You can divide items up into projects, make lists, figure out what you can delegate, etc. You can update your calendars and schedule in time for projects. Your mind should be a bit clearer, and you can prioritize what needs to get done and make lists to manage the rest. But it’s not all swirling around in your head trying to get your attention.

Cross them off your brain dump when it’s done. Sigh in relief. 😉

Have you ever done a brain dump? I’d love to hear about it!

Here are some categories to ponder:

  • Errands
  • Phone calls
  • To buy list
  • Clothing and shoes
  • House hot spots (where things gather)
  • Routines
  • Habits to develop
  • Upcoming holiday planning
  • Menu planning
  • Calendar items
  • Kids’ school
  • Sports and afterschool activities
  • Birthdays
  • Bills
  • Paperwork
  • Budgeting
  • Work
  • Repairs to house/apartment/car
  • Maintainance for house/apartment/car
  • Gardening/Outdoor work
  • Shabbat
  • Appointments
  • Guests
  • System revision
  • Self-care
  • Goals



About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.

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