Category Archives: What I’ve Learned

Brain Dumps: You Should Add Them to Your Routine

My Introduction to Brain Dumps

My introduction to brain dumps was actually in the form of “morning pages”. I began doing my morning pages as part of my practices when reading The Artist’s Way. Later, I heard Tim Ferris mention using brain dumps as a way to have a more productive day on his podcast. I hadn’t been prioritizing my morning pages anymore. I had become fidgety with anxiety. Anything more than five minutes of still meditation (guided or otherwise) felt nearly impossible, but the idea of sitting for ten or fifteen minutes and writing seemed less daunting. I gave it a try. I sat for a few minutes with my Self Care Everyday journal and wrote. They weren’t complete sentences, it wasn’t a story or poem, it wasn’t even cohesive thoughts. It was freeing because there was no right or wrong, no expectation, just release.

Who Should Do Brain Dumps

Short list: everyone. Longer list:

  • Anyone who is creating a better life in any way
  • Anyone who is making decisions
  • Anyone who knows what it is like to have to hold many thoughts in their mind at the same time
  • Anyone who feels anxious, overwhelmed, or like their mind is overflowing with information
  • Someone who is working to determine their emotional triggers and needs to keep record of the people, places, and things that impact their feelings
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Therapists
  • People in therapy
  • Employees
  • Creatives
  • You
  • Me

How Do You Brain Dump?

First, let me make something clear: You don’t have to be a writer, artist, or creative person to do brain dumps. Second, there is no “wrong way”. Now, clear at least five minutes from your busy schedule. I prefer doing brain dumps in the morning and before bed, but you can take this practice throughout the day. Just grab your preferred medium (pencil, pen, paint, marker). I prefer to use my Release and Reset Clarity Journal: Use Brain Dumps to Declutter the Mind journal because at the end of each seven days, there are lined pages for me to evaluate my recurring thoughts and reset by making proactive decisions for the coming week. No paper? Use a sticky note, paper cup, napkin-whatever you can find. 

Take three deep breaths (because, science). Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Go! 

Write.

Scribble.

Doodle.

Do whatever gets the thoughts out of your mind. Your sentences don’t have to be complete. Your words don’t have to be spelled correctly. Your lines don’t have to be straight, perfectly curved or even meet. 

When you’re finished, you can keep it, throw it away, or burn your thoughts (be safe, please). Take another three deep breaths (still science). Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

Add brain dumps to your routine for a few days. Come back and let me know how it benefits you.

10 Tools that I use as a Multi-hyphenate

mul·ti-hy·phen·ate nounINFORMAL

  1. a person, especially a celebrity, with several professions or skills.

Like so many others, I am a multi-hyphenate. I have my career with a financial software company where I support other professionals; my business and online store, Quest Creative Company, where I design apparel and products intended to motivate, inspire, and empower; this blog, where I share life lessons and tools in the form of blog posts and poetry; and soon, I’ll be releasing my first book on Amazon. I’m not the most organized, my focus has been on having comfortable workspaces, tools, and programs for creating so that I actually have something to organize. Below I’ve listed my top ten tools that I use to help get everything done.

Workspace Tools

  1. Microsoft Surface

I use a Microsoft Surface for work. I loved the slim, lightweight design. My previous laptop was extremely bulky and slow so when it was time to purchase a new laptop, the Surface seemed like the best option. I wasn’t ready for the Macbook price tag and the Microsoft Surface had great reviews. The great battery life and slim design have made it the perfect tool for working from anywhere.

  1. Monitors

My Microsoft Surface has a great design, battery life, and it’s lightweight so it is perfect for working from anywhere. When I’m working on a project that requires intense focus or multiple applications, I prefer to work in my office with my two additional monitors. The monitors are a must-have when I am locked in on a project because I can transition between apps seamlessly.

  1. Laptop stand

When I’m in my office working at my desk, I put my laptop on a laptop stand so that I can utilize all three monitors. I use a USB connected mouse and keyboard set. When I’m not in my office, the laptop stand allows me to work from a standing position to give me a break from sitting or being stuck in my office. I get a lot of inspiration in my kitchen. I often work standing at the counter, drinking coffee or tea from Chicly Brewed Tea Company (https://chiclybrewed.com/). If you are looking for a portable laptop stand option, a freelance friend of mine swears by this one.

  1. Lap desk

For those late nights when I want to have a relaxed workspace, I use my lap desk. When it comes to writing, I’m old school and prefer writing initial drafts by hand. My lap desk gives me a solid surface to work from.

Productivity Tools

  1. Asana.com

Asana is a work management platform designed to help you organize, track, and manage work. I use the free version for tracking ideas and keeping notes on progress of ongoing projects. For projects that include a team, I’m able to break projects into tasks and assign responsibility using the “Boards”. Having the option to use the desktop or app version of Asana makes it easily accessible and increases my chances of using it to stay organized on projects.

  1. Google Calendar and Drive

Since I have several calendars and Gmail accounts, I’m able to subscribe to all of the calendars and see all items at once across devices. I also use Google Drive for keeping up with documents, spreadsheets and other items within each project/email. Asana has an integration with Google Calendar and Drive that allows me to attach documents to the projects that I have created within Asana. I use this for attaching outlines and concept ideas to different projects that I’m working on or that are in the brainstorming phase. Google Docs is also extremely helpful when I am editing. 

  1. Canva.com

I can’t remember when I learned about Canva but about a year ago, I switched to Canva Pro and it has been a game changer. I use Canva for cover art, logo and book designs, and social media post creation and scheduling. I have also used Canva for my apparel designs. If you are trying to keep your creative business budget friendly, Canva is a great resource.

Tools for Stress Management

  1. Release and Reset Brain Dump Journal

This is the first journal that I published. It is a guided journal designed to give you a space to brain dump. You use the journal twice daily to release the thoughts of the day, but can use it as many times as you see fit, as long as there is space. I use the journal to brain dump as soon as I wake up and right before bed. It gives me a place to release my thoughts and concerns, as well as organize my thoughts. I’ve learned that a lot of my stress and anxiety comes from having too much on my mind. I have a therapist, friends and family, but sometimes, I don’t want to share what’s on my mind. This journal has been the solution that I needed. At the end of the week, I evaluate my main stressors and decide what changes I want to make to have a better week. I’m then able to go forward with organized thoughts and a plan of action.

  1. Keurig

For YEARS I have been saying that I would never get a Keurig because I can just use a coffee maker. Plus, I mostly drink tea. I buckled and purchased a Keurig about two months ago and I am so glad that I did. As I’ve said, I’m not the most organized so there are workdays where I’m running late for work…and I work from home. On those days, I don’t have time to make coffee. I need something quick. My Keurig has been the answer. I pop in a K-cup and press the button and voila, liquid joy is flowing into my cup. Coffee has become a source of joy that I look forward to on especially busy days. When I am feeling like I have too much to do and I’m stressed about getting it done, coffee is the answer. Amazon has been having sales on Keurigs off and on for the last few months so grab yours during their next sale.

  1. Headphones

Have you heard of getting into a “flow state” or “the zone”? Studies have shown that you can program your mind to get into a productive, focused, state of flow by listening to certain music or creating rituals. My ritual is putting on my headphones. I usually listen to music through bluetooth speakers so when I put my earbuds in or headphones on, my brain knows that it is time to work. Currently, I’m using Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds, SESH wireless, and RIFF on ear headphones. I love Skullcandy’s but I’m actually in the market for noise canceling earbuds or headphones. Which headphones or earbuds do you use?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s the top ten must haves in my workspace, productivity and stress management. What tools do you use in these areas? As I am increasing my skills and the usage of my skills, I know that I will have to become more organized. Other than Asana and Google, I don’t currently have any tools that I use for optimizing organization but I would like to. Do you have any tips, tricks, or tools that you use to stay organized?

Stretch and Rest

When was the last time that you stretched? I’m not talking about yoga or a refreshing, deep yawn after a good night’s sleep. I’m asking about your mind, body, spirit, heart, all of you. When was the last time that you stretched? We can get caught up in regular life – work, school, family – so much so that we forget to reach outside of our norm. Conversations about burnout have made me wonder if some of the burnout that we are experiencing is a result of not doing enough, as opposed to doing too much. Hear me out.

What happens when you get settled into any routine? You get bored. Whether it’s physical or mental, boredom creeps in and manifests in many different ways. In the gym, progress begins to slow or completely plateau. In relationships, the spark dissipates and distractions creep in. At work, the job begins to feel like a trap. As a result of the boredom, you may feel depressed, anxious, and/or unfulfilled by something that once brought you joy. Instead of excitement, all you feel is dread or exhaustion, not just with that routine, relationship, or job, but with life as a whole. I feel that it may be boredom-induced burnout and instead of quitting or giving up, it may be time for a stretch.

Change up the routine! If you stop noticing results in your workout routine, consult a trainer or nutritionist for guidance on what changes need to be made to get back on track. In relationships, try something new for date night. Schedule it so that it doesn’t get forgotten, add in conversation cards if it’s been a while since you spoke about something other than work or kids. Place the focus back on the people involved in the relationship instead of the distractions that may have crept in. At work, decide what you want to achieve in that role. Is it time to expand into a different role? Is there a skill that you would like to add to your resume to make you more marketable? Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

On the other end of things, let’s talk about rest. I believe that boredom can lead to burnout but so can lack of rest. When was the last time that you disconnected from everything? When was the last time that you walked instead of your usual run? Had a non-business dinner date instead of a business meeting? Danced slowly through the house while sipping your favorite drink, listening to your favorite sounds? Have you been so focused on challenging yourself that you haven’t taken the time to rest and replenish?

This is the other side of burnout. You’ve pushed so hard for so long that everything in you is begging you to slow down and rest for a bit. Burnout isn’t sudden, it drops hints. Those workouts where you struggle to do your most basic moves or sustain an avoidable injury, could be caused by you overworking yourself. The brain fog during meetings, increase in lack of patience for people closest to you, and restless nights of sleep are all signs that burnout could be approaching and it is time to rest. 

Don’t mistake resting with quitting. Resting welcomes recovery of the mind, body and spirit so that you can proceed on your mission after the rest period has ended. I encourage including times for rest twice daily  – once in the morning before starting the day and once in the evening before bed. Rest doesn’t have to be laying around or doing nothing, rest is an act of replenishment. For you, that may be a morning walk, meditation/prayer, dancing with coffee before waking the kids or going to work. It may mean turning off all screens an hour before bed, being intentional about spending time with those you care for most, or reading. Including small acts into daily routines may help eliminate burnout as it allows you to find a flow in your life rather than fighting against time.

Now, what do you think about the combination of both lack of stretching and lack of resting? Not doing enough challenging activity and then not resting enough to replenish the energy spent. Let me know your experiences with burnout. How do you stretch? How do you rest? Essentially, how are you taking care of yourself in these burnout filled streets?

I Wrote This For You

One time for the anxious.

The amazing people who get so hyped that they run and hide from their greatness.

The brilliant mind. Imprisoned by the troubled soul.

A condescending warden of a brain who proclaimed that the genius had to settle for average.

Mundane.

Don’t stand out.

Maintain.

I wrote this for you. Just for you.

My pen moves in sync with your racing heart. Erratic, quite manic, slightly breathless.

For you I breathe.

For you I share my pen’s sweet release in hopes that my vulnerability will remove the invisible shackles from your feet that keep you from your greatness or the hand from your throat that suffocates you and takes your ability to speak.

These words I write are intended to touch your soul.

You are great

Brilliant

Genius, in fact.

Take the step. Leap of faith.

Share your art. Share your heart.

Watch it break in the hands of few, feel it thrive and swell in the minds of many.

You are gifted, needed, necessary

And when the anxiety gets heavy

And your heart aches from fear,

Remember, you are exactly what’s been prayed for. The greatness you fear is what you’re made for and when you want to run, lean in-your breakthrough won’t break you.

If no one is there, I’m here.

Remember, I wrote this for you.

Trust the Process

For a while, “trust the process” was my motto. I was saying it for every situation as a means of reminding myself that God’s plan is perfect and that everything will work out in due time. I had been repeating the phrase during meditation, in the shower, as I exhaled in a difficult yoga pose-all that. I felt so strongly about the phrase that I was telling other people to keep calm and trust the process, too. It all seemed so simple and so soothing until one day when it wasn’t.

I don’t remember the exact situation, I just remember how it made me feel. I remember the bitter taste in my mouth, the tears that filled my eyes, the heat that rushed over my body, and the uncontrollable urge to lash out and let loose on the first person I saw. Luckily, nobody was there. It’s no secret that I have trouble expressing and managing my emotions, it’s one of the many things that I’m unpacking and working through right now, but on this day my emotions seemed like a burden I didn’t want to carry. I remember sitting on my yoga mat in front of my crystals and just crying. Normally, this is when I would take deep breaths and repeat “trust the process” until I calmed down but that wasn’t an option.

I went from feeling everything to feeling nothing, numb with confusion. Trust the process…what process?! I sat there on my mat with Bob Marley on repeat wondering what my granddaddy would do. What about grandma? What about Grip? Bob Marley? Jesus? Anybody?! How would anybody else climb out of this depressive state? I couldn’t come up with anything, which just made me more frustrated. I cried hard until my head ached and I got up, showered and went to work like nothing had even happened.

Fast forward a few weeks to when I was having a conversation with one of the most amazing people in my life and everything clicked: you don’t just trust the process, you have to learn to trust the process. Trusting the process is a process in itself! It’s not always pretty and it doesn’t always make sense because sometimes it isn’t what you expect or think you need it to be. I remember hanging up the phone and going straight to the shower. I stood under the hot water thinking about why I quit “trusting the process”. Why the sudden shift? After much deliberation and critical self-talk, I realized that I put too much emphasis on the idea of trusting the process and not enough emphasis on trusting God and myself.

Reflection helped me realize that in every situation where I thought things were at their worst and there was no way out, something beautiful happened. I had to get through the storm to enjoy the rainbow and that’s how my life has always been. The storm was God giving me the strength I needed to pull through because He has an amazing life for me, but I’ll have to work for it. I had forgotten that, though. I was screaming “trust the process” and not using any of the skills or knowledge I had been blessed with.

When you want something, you must work for it. All those cliché quotes about nothing worth having being easy to attain are true. Are you trusting the idea of trusting the process or are you truly trusting God and yourself? What does it look like for you to trust the process? Take some time to really think about it, because when things get hard and you want to quit or don’t understand why it all has to be so hard, you’ll need to circle back to your answers. On the road to be great, you are an ever-evolving artist and your life is your artistic expression. Open your mind and your heart to growth and trust that along the way, you’ll learn all that you need to get to where you want to be.

Trust the process. Trust God. Trust yourself.