Lists—so simple and yet so often a lifesaver!

The blog entry below, courtesy of Donna Muldoon, reminds us that the simplest tool can have enormous value.


Make a brain dump list

It seems that I, too, have used tools for so long that I’m not always aware that I’m using them. Like many people, I often develop a tool that helps with an immediate situation— sometimes just a temporary aid that is used once and discarded when the work is done. Occasionally, the tool proves to be so useful that I keep it (either electronically, in hard copy, or just in my mental file).

At the risk of sounding developmentally immature (tool-wise), I will admit that my most frequently used—and useful—tool is the List. Big lists, little lists, scraps of paper lists, formal lists. Revised lists, living lists, circulated lists, perfect lists. Sometimes the lists evolve into tables created on the computer and become forms that are kept as records.

However, my favorite list is the Brain Dump (BD) List. This most basic tool has given me the most satisfaction, primarily because it creates such relief mentally. I use the BD List when I realize that I am trying to remember too many things and am seriously close to forgetting everything. To create a BD List is easy—you just do a brain dump. Without any thinking, editing, prioritizing, or order, you just start writing down everything you need to do. You just dump all those thoughts onto the paper and start to feel the relief of having a list in front of you that will help you accomplish all those assorted tasks. Once the list is written down, you can easily see what has to be done and put an order to the items.

Very often, once the BD List is started, I add to it as my brain clears and semi-forgotten items come to light again. The ultimate relief, of course, comes not just from deleting all the various items from continuously cycling through my mind but the satisfaction of being able to cross them off the BD List!

  1. Judy, it was great to hear you speak a few Mondays back at ABCPNG. Thank your for adding me to your mailing list.

    I just wanted to add that I use an application called FreeMind which I use to build mind maps. I most often use mind maps for project planning; but back when I was in the job market I found that it was pretty handy to help reorganize my resume.

    – Jake

    • Thanks, Jake, for suggesting FreeMind. I will check it out. Whether called a “brain dump” or a “mind map” I love the concept of finding ways to organize the mental terrain.

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