Morning Pages: a tool for producing insight, innovation, and calm

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In a world where so much is changing, it is useful to learn better ways of making sense of what is happening.

Our rational, conscious minds are likely to seek out data, numbers, and facts. But a situation like Covid-19 shows that those numbers might not be available, they might not be accurate, and they might not mean what we think they mean.

Our rational minds will also be making sense according to the way the world used to work. But in a changing world, those assumptions may no longer hold true. (Again, Covid-19 provides a good example — there is no evidence yet that getting sick provides future immunity.)

So in a changing world our rational minds might not be able to help.

The good news is that our rational minds are not the only reliable way we have for understanding what is happening. Top sportspeople know how to react in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go. In the same way, our unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are currently emerging. To lead ourselves and other people better through this time of change we need to find better ways of drawing on the power of our unconscious intuition.

Exercise, creativity, meditation, and spending time in nature will all build a deeper connection with our unconscious. But these will take weeks and months to build.

A more direct and immediate way to connect with our intuition is called Morning Pages.

This is a great tool to use when you find yourself confronted with multiple conflicting pieces of information and priorities, combined with uncertainty and/or emotional stress.

The approach is very simple:

  • Sit down with pen and paper first thing in the morning, before your conscious mind is fully awake
  • Then write out longhand whatever comes into your mind, until you have filled three sides of paper
  • Then make a note of anything significant and get on with your day
  • Repeat as needed

Journalist Oliver Burkeman says he was initially sceptical that this could be useful but now he wishes he’d started years ago.

The benefits come in three stages:

  1. First, you get any niggling worries out of your head and down on to paper. That makes you calmer and brings a clearer mind, which allows you to get on with your day, undistracted and focused on your priorities.
  2. Second, writing without thinking often surfaces unexpected insights and understandings: things you had either forgotten or not realised you knew. In this way, your unconscious mind can often be wiser than your conscious mind.
  3. And third, as well as finding better understanding of what is happening, Morning Pages will also often bring solutions.

If you find your conscious mind struggling cope with multiple issues and priorities, calling on the power of your unconscious intuition using Morning Pages is well worth a try.

Are you stuck on an issue you can’t resolve? Have you tried calling on the power of your intuition?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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