It’s funny how sometimes we can kick so hard against the things that are good for us. Often we get little nudges towards the answer to our questions which we can often ignore (or not recognise at all).
Over the last few months, I’ve been facing what we might call a bit of a productivity issue. I could see the things I wanted to happen for me and my business, I just couldn’t quite manage to do anything useful about it.
Enter our saviour – the Morning Pages.
But did I recognise and embrace our saviour? Well, not exactly. Before I go through how you can implement Morning Pages in your life, here’s a little about how it went for me:
In the midst of starting my business I read a book called the Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, absorbed the wisdom of his words, and then decide to do absolutely nothing with it. Example – Tim goes into compelling detail about how Morning Pages are part of his daily routine for focus and productivity. Wonderful, I think. But do I do anything about it? No, of course not.
Strangely, I struggle getting my business off the ground and spend hours writing to do lists and checking facebook at increasingly regular intervals.
I sign myself up to teach a creative writing course, despite the fact I haven’t actually worked on a story or poem for many months. As I start to draw up the course material, this becomes a bit of an issue – I’m referring to writing exercises and experiences I had 8 years ago. One of which is, funnily enough, the practice of keeping Morning Pages. But do I set aside a block of time each week to work on the exercises I’m going to be guiding my students through? Nope.
Bizarrely, I struggle to come up with a lesson plan that isn’t pompous, bombastic and, ultimately, boring.
Browsing through a bookstore, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron jumps out at me – a seminal work that looks at meditation, creativity and productivity as completely interlinked. Flicking through the opening pages, guess what crops up again? Morning Pages. Apparently, says Julia, she’s seen massive increases in productivity, peace, wellbeing, profit etc across everyone who’s ever tried and stuck with this practice. From the cynical business executive, to the frustrated single parent, never mind all the struggling artists who one might suppose the book was primarily written for. Just try it, she says.
All it involves is writing 3 pages every morning as soon as you wake up. Of anything. Repeat ‘I don’t’ know what to write’ if you really have to, but for god’s sake write three pages. Un-cage that monkey brain and then get on with the rest of your day with a clearer, more focussed mind.
I’m relieved to say that one actually got through. I put a notepad and pen next to my bed that night and in the morning only spent about half an hour wrestling with fear before I caved in and rolled over, picked up the pen, and started to write.
I haven’t looked back at what I wrote; I assume it was mostly incomprehensible drivel. However, and here’s the important bit, I felt absolutely brilliant afterwards.
Since that morning, things have started happening. People getting in touch asking for classes. Potential clients suggesting meetings. Interactions with loved ones that feel more meaningful and enjoyable. Because – and I probably should have pointed this out at the start – what this all relates back to, is mindfulness.
Did you know there’s no such thing as multi-tasking? It’s a physical impossibility. Our brains switch very very quickly between whatever we’re trying to juggle; they don’t actually focus on everything at the same time. And in doing that very rapid switch between, we end up diminishing the efficacy of each and every thing – we do all of it, but slower, and worse.
This also applies to our personal relationships. How often are we truly with someone when we are talking to them? Often we are paying attention to the thoughts and worries that dance around in the back of our minds.
The wonder of morning pages is that it encourages us to put all of those jumpy little things down on paper, and focus on the task – or person – at hand. And when we’re truly present, we’re smarter. We see the possible opportunities, we make connections that otherwise would have passed us by. The quality of our output – professional and personal – is 100 times better.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says –
‘The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.’
The flip side of this, is that so do we.
Give it a go – you just might surprise yourself. Write three pages every morning of whatever’s in your head. It might be fragments of a dream, it might be self pitying, complaining, bitching, inane – whatever; write it anyway. Then close the book and get on with your wonderful day, one mindful moment at a time.
You’re welcome to use any scrap paper or special type of book. If you’re having trouble getting started and want a helpful nudge from us (with sentence starters and inspiration), download our free Morning Pages guide below.
[OptinLink id=7] [OptinLinkButton button_type=gradient link_type=optinlink color=#5dbcc6 border_radius=5 button_text=”Click here to download our Free Printable: Morning Pages (With Sentence Starters and Inspiration to help you start)”] [/OptinLink]
Editor: Melinda Edwards