The One Thing That Keeps it All Together For Me

Well, I’m guessing you’re already feeling it, too.

It’s not yet even December, and the hustle and bustle of the season has already descended upon us.

I felt it during a recent trip to the grocery store. (This year I saw Christmas decorations for sale even before the store took down their Halloween stuff. Yeesh!)

I like things in order.

I prefer calm over chaos.

So the fact that we live in a society that rushes the seasons just bugs me.

I can get overwhelmed by the onslaught of commercials enticing me to buy more, the invitations “inviting” me to party more and the expectations of others for me to be around more.

However, like it or not, I don’t see the seasonal push changing anytime soon.

So, here’s what I do for myself (and it’s a tool that I share with my clients) to keep it all together during the historically busy holiday season.


So, what exactly is a Brain Dump?

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

A Brain Dump is the process of dumping everything out of your brain and getting it on to paper.

With no filter or over thinking, a brain dump is listing (in no particular) all of the things on your mind, and writing them down.

You’re essentially taking everything you’re worrying about, questioning, feeling, needing to do...and organizing those thoughts OUT of your brain and putting them somewhere else.

I’ve been in the Brain Dump practice for quite a while now, so it’s my norm to do it every Sunday night, before a new work week.

But, one of the the cool things about a Brain Dump is that you can do it anytime you feel overwhelmed. You don’t have to wait until the end of the week. You can even do a Brain Dump right now, while you’re reading this.

Grab a pen and a piece of paper. (I’ll wait.)

Why would I take the time to do a Brain Dump?

Here are some common stressors that might suggest a good solid Brain Dump is in order.

  • When you have more to-do’s than you have days to do them

  • When you feel out of balance and can’t figure what’s off

  • When preparing to travel or when organizing a vacation

  • When you are trying to keep too many plates in the air

  • When lots of random tasks need to be done

  • During an anxiety producing situation

  • When there are lots of deadlines

  • The month of December

  • Sunday nights

Here’s how I do an effective Brain Dump.

The beauty of the Brain Dump is that it can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like.

Sometimes I only need to write down all that I’m thinking about, for it to have a calming, “Oh, this isn’t as bad as I thought” effect on me.

Other times, when I feel a bit more out of control, (oh for instance….shall we say, during the holidays??) I need to put a bit more effort into it.

Here’s how I do it.

First: Just start writing.

In no particular order, just brainstorm all that’s floating around in your head.

Write down everything you’ve been thinking about and clogging up your head.

Don’t hold back and don’t limit yourself.

Cover everything you need to do, should do, have thought about doing, should think about doing...anything and everything without any sort of priority.

What’s bugging you? What is distracting you? What are you most dreading? What is important? Urgent?

Write it all down. Let yourself be random and unorganized.

Now that you’ve got it down on paper, you can begin to make sense of it all.

Second: Create Some Order

Ahhh. There now. Doesn’t that feel so much better? Just seeing it all out in the open, down on paper?

You no longer need to worry that you’ll forget something AND we can now DO something with this list rather than WORRYING about the list.

Taking action will ALWAYS be a better option than just worrying about how to action.

I can geek out on the many directions we can go at this point, to create order out of your Brain Dump.

In my upcoming FREE, 30 day DESIGN YOUR DECEMBER Facebook challenge, I’ll be sharing the structure that will give you the freedom to reclaim your holiday, will help you establish permanent habits that keep it all together on a regular basis, and will give you a head start on your new year. (I’m totally stoked to share all of this.…seriously geeking out here.)

Registration is now open for the challenge. I’d love to give you more support there. (Think of it less as a challenge and more of gift to yourself.)

However, to get you started right now in keeping it all together, let’s keep it simple.

Third: Take Imperfect Action

For all of you who are perfectionists, (and for those of us who are recovering perfectionists) this step may indeed be the hardest. I get it. It’s hard to consciously not to do your best.

But, when you need to build momentum, your best just isn’t helpful. At all.

Getting things done imperfectly is waaay more helpful than not getting things done at all.

So, choose one thing in the Brain Dump, take imperfect action and do it now.

Don’t overthink it. No more second guessing. Take some time now and get’ter done.  

You only need to set the alarm on your phone for 3 minutes and commit to doing one thing on the list.  (Make that call, pick up the toys, clean off the counter, empty the dishwasher, you get the idea…. stop procrastinating because you don’t have the time to do it perfectly.)

Fourth: Schedule the urgent

Now that the clutter of your mind is out in the open, it can no longer hide. (mwah haah haah.)

Like I said before, there’s a plethora of directions we can go from here (all of which I’ll teach in the DESIGN YOUR DECEMBER Facebook challenge), but I think the best place to implement now is to ruthlessly review your list and determine what’s urgent.

Here’s how I define urgent: If you receive a surprise call from Oprah’s people, saying that O herself wants to meet YOU, but the only day available for her is… today…what needs to get done?

This will separate the important from the urgent pretty darn quick, for me, at least.

Now that you’ve got your urgent items on your calendar… (wait, you don’t use a calendar? No wonder you’re having a tough time keeping it all together…wink wink. You’ll get a free calendar when you register for the Design Your December Facebook challenge.)

Now for the critical piece in this process that most people forget.

Fifth: Commit to taking action

Brain Dumping is awesome for so many reasons.

However, if you don’t commit to taking action, your Brain Dump becomes just another piece of loose paper only adding to your physical clutter.

So that your Brain Dump achieves the status of the mighty “decluttering the mind” and “reclaiming your life” tool that it was destined to be, YOU’VE GOT TO COMMIT TO TAKING ACTION.

When you want to decrease overwhelm and keep it all together this season, you’ve got to take action.

I know it’s not easy to be proactive and push against the chronic state of busy in our culture, but it can be simple.

Using the Brian Dump is the one simple, yet highly effective strategy I use to keep it all together, during the holidays and beyond.

Lisa Bobyak, founder of Living Fully Balanced, LLC, has become the go-to source for Life Balance and Life Design in Minneapolis. She is dedicated to working with high achieving women and organizations to increase their energy and focus. These women know that they’ve been designed to make an impact on their world, and they want to ensure that they don’t lose themselves in the process. Lisa’s been transforming women’s lives for over 14 years through her inspirational and educational presentations, as well as her private coaching. However, she’s best known for her proven signature program,  Love Your Life Again. Lisa’s authored 7 Days to Loving Your Life Again, and is the creator of the Living Fully Balanced Life Planner.

Registration is now open for her FREE Design Your December challenge, where she’ll teach the Living Fully Balanced Process and give a sneak peak into the LFB Life Planner, due to be published in 2019.