Episode 009: Power of a Brain Release

Episode Transcription

With so much on everyone’s plate, it’s hard to remember all the things! Using a tool called a brain release can drastically reduce the overwhelm and lift some of the mental burdens of trying not to forget anything. Diana does a brain release once a week and schedules tasks according to priority but still allows room for flexibility.

In this episode, Diana walks through all the steps of how she completes a brain release and why it’s so helpful in her everyday life.

We’ll also discuss:

  • Some prompts on how to get started and the steps to work through it
  • And how to add it to your weekly schedule
  • The free Minimal-ish Planner can be found here: 2023 Minimal-ish Planner


What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 


Find Diana Rene on social media:

Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom

Facebook: @the.decluttered.com

Pinterest: @DianaRene


Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training videoKiss Clutter Goodbye” to learn how it’s possible! And find all of my resources here.

Episode 009: Power of a Brain Release

[00:00:00] Diana Rene

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. A podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Renee, and in 2017, I had my second daughter, and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home. Okay, not literally. But I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next ten months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings, and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system, and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks, and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show.

In this episode, I wanna talk about the power of a brain release. And if you've been around me for any period of time, you know that I talk about this quite often because of how powerful it is in my life and in the lives of women who I've worked with. But, essentially, it's a brain dump. I just hate, I hate that term. 

It just is one of those things where it's like, it just like gets under my skin. I don't like it. I don't like the way it sounds. And so I call it a brain release. However, it also has a couple of extra steps. Um, then like what you consider a brain dump where you just get everything on the paper, and then it is what it is. With a brain release, we are getting it on paper, but then we are also doing something with it. So what I wanna do is kind of walk you through a brain release, but first I wanna talk about why, like, why is this important? And the thing is, is that anyone has a lot on their plate, but especially busy moms have so much on their plate.

All of these things that they're trying to remember. Not only for themselves but for their family, for their kids, for their spouse, for the kids' school, for activities, for their own work, if they work outside of the home, for any extracurricular activities that you're involved in. Oftentimes you're in charge of a lot of things with vacations and groceries and just all the things. Right. 

And when that happens, we tend to get overwhelmed. And the brain release is one tool that can drastically reduce that overwhelm simply by utilizing it. So that is why the brain release is so important in my in my mind, because it immediately lifts some of that burden of, oh shoot, I'm gonna forget this. Or, oh shoot. I did forget this. Um, we are just kind of working through the chaos in our mind and getting it on paper and scheduling things out, and making sure that nothing is being left behind. You know what needs to be done this week. And you know, when it's gonna get done, and you know that you're not going to forget anything. 

And there's a really big like burden that's lifted when we know that. When we know that for a fact, that is why a brain release is so important. Um, I do a brain release every single Sunday and then as needed. So like every Sunday, typically in the afternoon or early evening, I'll sit down, and I will do a brain release.

But then there are other times throughout the week where I will just do one because I'm feeling overwhelmed or because I'm feeling like I'm forgetting something or because it just feels like a lot has happened since Sunday that needs to get put on there. The rule is always to do on Sunday, but then just do it throughout the week as needed. 

And I use my planner. So I use, um, the, the Minimal-ish Planner, which you can get for free linked in the show notes. It is a printable PDF, and it's a full-year planner. Um, I have both weekly and daily options, and I am a planner person. I've always been like a paper planner person, but at the same time, I have never found a planner that worked for me. 

And so, there was always something I wish I could change. So a couple years ago, I created the Minimalish Planner, which is like my, like everything I wish was in a paper planner, and take out all the stuff that like annoyed me about paper planners and created it. And this is something that I created for myself, but then I have made as a free resource to you, to my community because it's, it's something that can help you just stay on track as a busy mom.

And every week, there is a brain release section. So almost an entire page is devoted to the brain release. Uh, so if you wanna grab that, great, go ahead. It's totally free. If you don't, then just do this on a piece of paper. It doesn't really matter where we're doing it, but I just like doing it in my planner because then I can contain it easier.

And I know exactly where it is. If you just wanna put it on a note card on a piece of printer paper on the back of a receipt, I don't really care as long as you just do it. Cuz I think it's really gonna help you. 

So let's get into the how. So what you're gonna do when you're doing a brain release is you are going to sit down and empty your brain, empty your mind.

You are not going to judge your thoughts as they come up. You are just going to get it on paper. So if it comes to your mind while you're sitting there and you're thinking about your brain release, write it down. So you're gonna write down things that you need to get done or things that need your attention or projects that you wanna work on or forms that need to be turned in or bills that need to be paid.

All of the above. Everything that you can think of is going to go on your brain release. And if that's hard for you to sit down and just start thinking of things, then there are some prompts that you can think through. You can think of, okay for kid number one school like just focus on one child in their school. 

Oh yeah, I need to turn in that field trip form. And I also need to email their teacher because I wanted to ask this question, and then I'm gonna go to kid number two school and go through all of that. And then go back to kid number one activities, or kid number one, birthday coming up or whatever, but you can start to think through each individual person in your household and then think through their daily life.

So whether that be school activities, their friendships, their, uh, organizations that they're a part of, like, just anything with that person to help kind of spark your, your brain to get going. And once you get going, then you're not gonna need to do that very long. You're not gonna have to give yourself prompts, but you just wanna get everything on paper.

If you do work outside of the home, then I recommend doing a separate, like personal slash family and then a work one, because I think it's hard to differentiate between the two when you're going further down this process. So I always recommend doing it separate, but if you do not work out of the home, then you can just do it all in one list.

After you get everything down, every possible thing that you can think of that you need to get down. And it doesn't matter when you need to do it. It could be something that you have to get done today, or it could be something that you have to, that you wanna get done before Christmas. That's six months away.

It doesn't matter. Just put it down if it's in your mind because, uh, the more we can get out of our brain, the better we're gonna feel and the more thorough and complete we're gonna feel. And then we're not going to be. We're not gonna be left with that burden of trying to think and not forget. 

So once we have everything down, we're gonna go through three things. We're gonna delegate, we're gonna delete, and we're gonna potentially automate. So first we're gonna delegate. And what I mean by that is, I want you to find at least one thing on your brain release that you can hand off. Whether that's to a family member, whether that's to hiring someone, whether that's to, um, swapping something with a neighbor or a friend. It doesn't really matter, but just finding a way to get something off of your plate, because I think this is something that we all always have to work on as moms, we wanna do it all, and we feel like we have to do it all. And we're told that we have to do it all. And so when we can start growing or exercising that delegate bone in our body, then we are going to be better off for it. So find one thing that you can delegate that you can get off your plate, that somebody else in your world can handle for you, that you don't need to be in charge of.  

The next one is to delete. So again, and I want you to find at least one thing. And when I say, find at least one thing for, for both the delegate and delete, I don't mean you have to stop there. I just want you to do at least one to kind of like push yourself a little bit. If you're like, oh no, no, no, I don't need help. I, I can do all of this. Push yourself and do at least one, but if you can do more, great, but delete is just getting rid of things that don't need to be done. So oftentimes we will be thinking about something that we think we need to do because we want to do it for somebody else, or we want to someone else to think good of us, or we feel like we have to do all of these extracurriculars for your kid's school, because you see all the other moms doing it or whatever it may be.

Find at least one thing that you can delete off of your to-do list. Off of your brain release, no matter how big or small it is, again, we're just kind of working on exercising that muscle and getting rid of at least one thing. 

And then automate. So is there anything on your brain release that you can somehow automate? And this isn't always the case. So I don't say you have to do at least one, but is there a bill that you have to pay that you can get, get put on auto pay? Or is there something that you can just figure out a way to make it a non-task for you? It's something that's automatically done for you. Is there anything on the list that you can automate?

So after we go through those steps, what we're gonna do is now we are going to prioritize every single thing on the list, and you could have ten things on your list, or you could have 55 things on your list. It doesn't matter, but we're gonna go through them, and we are going to, uh, either put a number one, a number two, or a number three by each one.

Another thing you could do is you could use highlighters. So this is, again, this is gonna be a personal preference thing, but if you want to just go through 'em and number them, great. If you want to use highlighters and all number ones, get blue, all number twos, get pink, and all number threes, get green. Great! 

It doesn't really matter, but whatever works best for you. I like to do both. Um, cause I don't know why, but I like to, uh, highlight them first. And then I go back through and I put the numbers next to 'em. So you could do that too, but you don't have to. It's kind of an either or, uh, thing. This is what we're looking for number one, number two, and number three. This is how they're gonna be different.

Okay. So a number one item is something that is urgent and has a consequence if it doesn't get done. What I mean by that? We all know what urgent means, first of all, right? Like this is something that has to get done quickly. It's not something that can wait. This isn't like something that we can put off until next month.

This is something that we have to get done. And it's something that we're probably thinking about. And it's bothering us that we haven't gotten it done yet. This is an urgent task. But then when I say it has a consequence is an example of a consequence could be, this is a bill that is due in two days, and if it's not paid, then I'm gonna get a big, late penalty fee. Or this is a field trip form that I have to turn in for my daughter, and if I don't turn it in by Wednesday, she doesn't get to go on the field trip. So there's some type of consequence, and a consequence isn't necessarily like this big, bad, scary thing.

It's just if you don't get this task done, something is either going to happen or not happen as a result of your inaction on this task. Okay. So that's a number one task. It needs to be urgent and have a consequence. If it's not done. A number two is going to be semi-urgent to urgent, but it's not going to have really a consequence.

So this might be something that you would really like to get done quickly. Maybe a holiday is coming up, and you really want, you really, really want to get like, uh, certain types of decorations for like a part of your home that every year you say you're gonna decorate you don't. So this is like, feels urgent to you, it's something you, you wanna do, but like, there's not necessarily like a really big consequence if you don't do it. So that's kind of a number two. It's also a number two could be something that's just semi-urgent. So it's something that, you know, needs to get done soon but doesn't necessarily need to get done like in the next couple of days or even this week.

And then a number three is simply just not urgent. It's not something that needs to get done by any means in the next week. Maybe not even the next month. Um, it's something that you would like to do or you, you know, needs to get done at some point, but you don't have to do it right away. And so we're just gonna make it a number three.

So now that we have everything on our list categorized as a one, two, or three, we are going to schedule. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna look at our next week. So again, this is as if we were on a Sunday, which is when I typically do this, but if you're doing it at a different point in the week, then you're still just gonna look at the week that you're in. 

But on Sundays, I look to the week ahead, and I get out my planner. And I put everything that is like a non-negotiable I can't talk tonight for some reason, a non-negotiable meeting or someplace you have to be or something like that. So I will sit down, and I'll look at my calendar for the next week, and I'll put down all the appointments that I have, the meetings I have for work.

The um, activity schedule for my kids, uh, anywhere that they need to be, uh, anything that I need to, anything where I need to be somewhere, or I need to block out that time. Right. Then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna look back at my brain release, and I'm going to schedule my number ones. So I'm going to put two to three number ones on Monday, two to three number ones on Tuesday, two to three number ones on Wednesday. And I can kind of look at what's on the list, and I can figure out which day is going to work best. Or obviously, I know if one of them has to be done on Monday because it's due by Monday at midnight, then I'll put it on Monday.

But, um, if it's something that can maybe go on Wednesday, then I'll put it a little bit further in the week and put the more urgent number ones earlier in the week. I don't go as far as scheduling it into like the actual day. As far as like, this task must be done at 2:00 PM on Tuesday. You can do that if you'd like to, I found that that just didn't work for me. So I put it at the top of the day in my planner, where it has like the tasks, the non-negotiable tasks that have to be done that day. And there's only room for a few. I put it right there, and that way, I know on Monday I open up my planner. And I can see these are the two or three non-negotiable tasks that I have to get done, and I get 'em done.

I figure out when in the day it's going to work the best I try and do 'em as early in the day as I possibly can, because then I know it doesn't feel like it's hanging over me by the time I get to the evening, it's like, oh shoot, I still have to do that. So I try to do 'em earlier in the day but you know, hashtag mom life, it doesn't always work that way.

So I just know that it has to get done urgently. Otherwise, there's a consequence, right? Because it's a number one. If I get to the end of a day and there is just no way these tasks are happening. Um, maybe I had a crazy busy day. Uh, every, you know, my car broke down and so I spent half the day at the dealership and then I had to pick up a kid from school because they were sick and then, you know, helping sick child.

And then the other kid got sick right before bedtime. And like, you know, you know, you know, these days, right. So maybe it's one of those days and it's like 11 o'clock at night, and I just have to crash because my brain can't even function right now. Then you know what those number ones didn't get done.

And so I, I will just move them to another day in the week. And if that means I have to move one of the non-negotiable tasks from Tuesday to Wednesday, then so be it. It's not the end of the world. This isn't too like completely pack and schedule out your week and not have any flexibility. This is just an exercise to get things off your mind and into your planner or onto your paper so that you are in more control over what has to get done.

And it's going to increase your productivity, you guys, by so much because this is typically what happens. We schedule those number ones, and we get them done right away. And so we start grabbing number ones from the next day, and we get those done. And the next thing you know, you're onto number twos, and you don't even have to worry about not getting them done.

Is that how it always is? No, but that does tend to happen the more and more and more that you practice this entire brain release system. So after those number ones are scheduled, maybe you don't have a lot of number ones this week. Maybe there are only two or three. And so you're like, okay, that's great.

I'm gonna get those done. But I think I can get more done. That's when we're gonna jump back into the brain release and grab those number twos and schedule those in your week. And if you, maybe have the opposite and you have so many number ones and not very many number twos, or maybe you have both, maybe you have tons of number ones and tons of number twos in that scenario.

You're just gonna focus on the number ones, and the number twos are probably gonna get bumped to next week. And that's okay. Right. Because there's not really a consequence, and they're just semi-urgent. But if you only have a couple of number ones, Start scheduling in those number twos to get 'em done.

And maybe you can even get into the number threes and start getting those done also. Now, if you have gone through your whole week, you got all your number ones done. You maybe got some of your number twos done, but there are still some number twos, and definitely, a bunch of number threes left. What you're gonna do is next Sunday, when you do your brain release, you're just gonna transfer those over to your new brain release.

So you're kind of starting fresh. With a new list that you can categorize, but you are not forgetting any of those items or tasks from your former list. And that's important because that's the whole goal of doing this, right? Not feeling like there's anything floating out there that needs to get done that you're forgetting about, because this really is about helping to get everything out of our mind on the paper and just feeling more in control of your productivity.

I hope this was helpful. Send me a DM on Instagram. I'd love to hear if you do try this and don't forget, you can grab the free planner in the show notes totally free, and you can have it. We have several printers that we work with that do inexpensive printing and binding and can ship it to your home for you also.

Thanks for hanging out and listening to The Decluttered Mom Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories, and if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me @the.decluttered.mom and send me a DM to say hi. I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.