Sep 13, 2021

Thought Dump

I love to jot down thoughts and ideas. Earlier, I used to write them down in a digital note-taking product (Evernote to be precise). I then switched to a paper-based planner/journal sometime in June 2019.

In this post, I want to share a particular journaling technique that I love. The inspiration for this technique came from two sources

  • the amazing productivity bible - David Allen's Getting Things Done book - that I read sometime in 2006, but still relevant in today's digital times
  • from Harry Potter series, Dumbledore's thought bowl - Pensieve

This technique helps if you are someone who feels overwhelmed and being dragged by multiple responsibilities, inspired by new projects, initiatives and ideas, and whose thoughts jump across various spectrums/genres.


I prefer to follow this technique on most mornings (not every day though). Here's what I do:

I sit with my journal and a pen. And I just jot down all thoughts that come one by one in a bullet format - no judgments, no analysis, no going deeper into each thought. The intention is to become aware of each thought and collect all of them into what I call a "thought dump". Meditating with a pen and a paper, if I may call so.

For example, here's a snippet of my "thought dump" from a few days back:

  • Brian Greene books
  • Resilience and research work on this topic in psychology
  • call P and check for opportunities
  • finish making breakfast and lunch before 10 AM
  • Taichi
  • Why am I uncomfortable with uncertainty?
  • What is marketing's responsibility?
  • Vagus nerve - read more about it
  • Filling your cup before you pour to others - what are my needs?

How does this help?

As thoughts get transferred from our minds to a notebook, our minds become free and relaxed.

If we don't address a particular thought/idea, it keeps repeating itself in a loop.

Our minds are not meant for storage.

Thought awareness becomes a conscious practice.

Taking action on those thoughts is the obvious next step. Before we get to that stage, this simple step of collecting our thoughts gives the much-needed freeing up of our minds, especially on days when we feel overwhelmed.

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