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Fresh insights and best practices for event professionals

Brain Dumping for Event Professionals: Part One, Identifying and Organizing Stressors

by | Jan 2, 2024 | Best Practices, Business Management

Are you an event pro struggling to stay organized? If that’s the case, you’re not alone. With so many tasks and deadlines, disorganization is a pain for even the most seasoned professionals.

Are you constantly jumping between time-sensitive projects and things you think you should be doing? Or cramming your brain with mental post-its? If so, you’re not doing any favors for your business or your mental health. 

External factors aside, we can’t expect our brains to hold all of the clustered trains of thought and piecemeal ideas we deal with daily. It’s crucial to incorporate a strategy like brain dumping into your routine to organize your thoughts, complete projects on time, and keep your business moving forward.

Rows of sticky notes on a white board

Since the holiday season and the first weeks of the new year can be highly stressful for event pros, I developed this guide to help you declutter your brain while staying on target.

In Part One of this series, I’ll walk you through the concept of brain dumping and how to identify your individual stressors and challenges using this approach. Stay tuned for the next part, where we’ll discuss how to start problem-solving and strategizing with the results of your first brain dump.

Once you have used a brain dump to identify tasks, Planning Pod offers easy-to-use task and project management tools so you can track them and make sure they are completed on time.

What is Brain Dumping?

Brain Dumping is meant to be a 10-15 minute writing strategy for organizing your professional and personal life. You can choose to free-write by spilling your thoughts into a note-taking app or journal. Or you can adopt an intentional structure that encourages your ideas to flow. As you continue to brain dump, you can refine the format to what works best for you.

When you’re buried under a mountain of stress and anxiety, it can be difficult to trace your feelings back to their exact causes. When you arm yourself with the right strategy, you will gain a greater understanding of your challenges and take steps to overcome them.

Stressed woman overwhelmed by her thoughts

Brain dumping is my favorite approach to problem-solving, with both business and mental health applications. Let’s face it: event pros deal with major pressure (studies show it’s the 6th most stressful career), and you can’t afford to not prioritize your wellbeing. But here’s the silver lining … no matter your role in the events industry, brain dumping has undeniable benefits due to its flexibility.

1. Find a digital platform for your brain dumps.

Because this strategy is beneficial for mapping your to-do list and deadlines, we recommend logging your brain dumps digitally rather than on paper. It may be tempting to stick with a journal, but online alternatives offer significant benefits. 

Digital platforms allow you to keep your brain dumps and to-do lists at your fingertips while doing less paperwork and writing in general. You’ll be surprised by how much more productive and relaxed you’ll be after organizing your thoughts this way.

Using a digital platform also makes your brain dumps easily searchable (not so easy to do with a paper journal). 

If you use business software, check to see if it has a notes tool that lets you easily add these on-the-fly. If it doesn’t include this tool, you can also download brain dump apps or productivity apps from the App Store.

PRO TIP: If you already use Planning Pod, you can track your brain dumps in our Worksheets tool and even build templates with your desired format to save time. Since our platform is mobile-friendly, you can complete your brain dumps from any mobile device, whether it’s an android, iPhone, or iPad.

Whatever tool you use, it’s crucial to hold all of your brain dumps in the same place to track your progress as time goes on.

2. Pick a time of day.

Especially for beginners, it’s crucial to stick to a schedule in order to build up a habit. Though you can brain dump as often as you like, case studies show that it’s best to adopt it as a daily practice. If daily is too much, try setting time aside once or twice a week.

No matter what schedule you set, make sure it’s one you can realistically maintain.

3. Find a distraction-free place to write.

Pick a quiet place like your office, bedroom, a coffee shop or even your car. You may find that listening to music or white noise is helpful while writing, so make sure to bring some headphones if you do this exercise in public (but avoid distractions like guided meditation or podcasts).

Woman writing at computer

PRO TIP: Build a brain dump playlist or use a mobile app to find a pre-built writing playlist.

4. Set a timer and start writing!

Your first brain dump will probably be your longest one. Don’t sweat it – the more often you brain dump, the less writing you’ll have to do each time. And don’t worry about organization at this point; we’ll handle that later.

So how do you figure out where to begin? I recommend starting by listing any emotions you’re feeling, like stress, excitement, fear or joy. From there, list big-picture projects and goals you need to complete and get more detailed as you go. I find that this is the easiest way to get everything in your brain onto paper without spending a ton of time going back to add missed details.

Jot your thoughts down in bullet points and, if needed, add a sentence under each one. If you think of another detail to add later, circle back to include it there.

Identifying Stressors and Tasks

Congrats on completing your first brain dump! I recommend taking a quick brain break  before coming back to your list. When you’re feeling refreshed, it’s time to start organizing what you wrote down:

  • Cut out fluff. Remember this: You don’t need to accomplish every task that comes out of a brain dump. In fact, it’s common to find that you’re holding yourself to unrealistic expectations through this exercise. Unless you think you’ll legitimately get to each of these tasks someday, go ahead and delete the ones that seem impractical. Or create a separate list somewhere of “future goals” in case you want to revisit these later.
  • Decide what categories your tasks fall under. You may have different categories for different brain dumps, but most of your tasks will likely fit into one of these 4: Work, Personal, Home and Errands. Write these at the top of your list.
  • Start categorizing. From here, it’s easy to copy and paste your bullet points to their designated categories. If you’re writing in a journal, I recommend using colored pens or highlighters to label each item instead.

Now you’re ready for the next step in organizing your tasks. Add four new categories at the top of your list, as follows:

  • Urgent and Critical: High-priority tasks that have a deadline within the next few weeks.
  • Critical but not Urgent: High-priority tasks that may not have a deadline or can be done later.
  • Urgent but not Critical: Things like social media and responding to non-client emails that are urgent but aren’t important.
  • Not Urgent or Critical: Tasks that end up here can be added to your main to-do list to be eventually completed or deleted altogether.

Now you can migrate all of your tasks into these dedicated categories. Once that’s complete, your to-do list should look a lot more manageable. 

PRO TIP: If you’re using Planning Pod, now’s the time to take any client tasks you may have created and add them to the To-Do’s tool in their respective event.

Tasks in Planning Pod's Event To-Dos tool

Part 2: Creating a Strategy

Now that we’ve listed our stressors and cleared out any client-related tasks, it’s time to peel back the layers and develop a strategy to tackle what’s left. Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll walk through how to turn these challenges into opportunities.

Planning Pod is an event management platform for wedding professionals, event coordinators, and more. Want to learn more? See how we compare to Aisle Planner and Honeybook.