Have you heard of brain dumping?

One of the most frequent questions my clients ask is how to find more time in their day. And I get it! As a busy toddler mom, pastor's wife, and business owner, I have a LOT going on. {We all do!} And without some serious organization and great systems in place, I would be lost! Adding brain dumping to my weekly routine has allowed me to be more productive and less forgetful… let me show you how it's worked for me!

Note: This post contains affiliate links (*). For more information, see my disclosures here.

What is brain dumping?

{I'm so glad you asked!} It's a phenomenal strategy that successful entrepreneurs and busy moms have been using for ages. And today, I'm going to teach you exactly how it works.

Where do I start?

Brain dumping starts with a blank slate. Whether you us a pad of paper or an online program, you have to start fresh. One of my mentors uses those Giant Post-It Notes* {the seriously huge ones you use in an office presentation}. I love using Evernote*, which I'll talk about more in a few minutes.

On Saturday night {ok, sometimes it's not until Monday morning}, I will sit down and write out each and every thing that has to be done the following week. From taking out the garbage on Wednesday to laundry to dry cleaning to purchasing a gift for a birthday party… if it's something that has to go on my schedule or needs to get done, it goes on this list.

Are there any special tools you use when you are brain dumping?

I am currently obsessed with Evernote*. I started with the free version and quickly upgraded to the Premium version. It's less than $5/month, and it has enough amazing features and options that it may merit it's own future blog post!

Now, the reason I love to use Evernote for my brain dumping exercise is that within my Evernote files, I've created a note called “Template Brain Dump File” which houses things that I do every single week (like laundry, dishes, driving my daughter to school, etc) as well as suggested things that have come up in the past. When I use this list as my starting point, I rarely leave anything off. {You can find out more about How I Use Evernote for Business here}

So I've brain dumped… now what?

Once I've dumped everything out of my brain, I re-arrange it by activity and type. Then, I sit down with my calendar and schedule everything out. My top recommendation to my clients is to find a calendaring system that works for you. Whether it's a planner that stays in your purse, a binder that you cart around in a tote bag, or the calendar in your phone, you have to have a system. I'd even venture to say that it will be almost impossible for you to be a successful business owner without a good scheduling system. My preferred system is Google's Calendar, which syncs with my iPhone and with Acuity Scheduling* {which I used for all business appointments}.

I input each and every one of the items from my brain dump into my to-do list. For example, when I'm already out and about after dropping my daughter off at school, I know it will be super-convenient to run by Walmart or Target and pick up the gift I need for this weekend's birthday party. Or I may schedule a three hour block of time for errands and another for client calls. It's absolutely amazing how much I can fit into a day when I know what all needs to be done. And it's amazing how productive I can be with just a few hours of time when I'm working from a well thought-out, well planned to-do list.

Doesn't brain dumping take a lot of time?

Yes and no. Typically it will take me about an hour (sometimes less) to brain dump. But the time I save by “dumping” is unparalleled. For example, I used to be so guilty of running to the store, realizing I forgot something, having to go back, then realizing I need to go across town and do this that and the other. I would spend hours in my vehicle doing tasks that would have taken less than half the time if I had been organized.

The same was true in business. I would get caught up doing the fun and glamorous tasks and waste lots of time on social media or just chit-chatting when I should have been spending more time doing the critical revenue-producing tasks. Or I would go back and forth, doing left-brained projects and right-brained projects and wear myself out before the day was even over. Now, I'm careful to schedule all of my creative tasks together and all of my business tasks together.

How often should I brain dump?

For me, brain dumping has become a part of my weekly agenda. It's sandwiched right between goal setting and meal planning. There's an old saying that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and I think that is definitely the case when it comes to time management and business profitability.

What if I need more help?

If you are a female entrepreneur who is struggling with her business, I would love to help you! One of the greatest rewards of my job is to see a fellow mom be able to quit her full-time job away from the home and work from home with her kiddos by her side!

So tell me… do you brain dump? What systems do you use to keep track of your to-do list? Are you married to pen-and-paper or have you hopped over to the online side?