Morning Pages are a tool for producing insights, innovation, clarity, and calm

In a world where so much is changing so fast, we need new and better ways to make sense of the change that is happening around us.

Our conscious, rational minds will tend to seek out facts, numbers, and data. But as the beginnings of the Covid-19 outbreak showed, those numbers might not always be available, they might not be accurate, and they might not mean what we think they mean.

Our conscious, rational minds will also make sense of things according to the way the world used to work. And in a changing world these assumptions may no longer hold true. We once assumed, for example, that catching Covid-19 would then make us immune. That turned out not to be true. 

The bottom line is that in a changing world our rational minds might not have all the answers.

The good news is that our rational minds are not the only reliable method we have for understanding the world. When top sportspeople respond in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go they don’t think about it consciously. They don’t gather data, plot charts, and run alternative scenarios. Instead they use their instinctive, unconscious minds. And they train themselves to be able to do this better.

In the same way, in this time of change, our unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are emerging all around us. And so a powerful new way to lead ourselves better through this time of change is to find new ways of connecting with our unconscious intuition.

We’ve already seen that exercise, creativity, meditation, and spending time in nature will build this deeper connection with our unconscious minds. But this can take weeks.

A faster approach is a technique called Morning Pages.

The way it works is very simple:

  • Sit down with pen and paper first thing in the morning, before your conscious mind is fully awake
  • Write out longhand whatever comes into your mind, until you have filled three sides of paper: don’t edit, don’t think, just write whatever comes into your mind
  • Make a note of anything that seems significant
  • Get on with your day

The benefits come in three stages:

  1. First, you get any nagging worries out of your head and down on to the paper. That makes you calmer and brings a clearer mind, allowing you to get on with your day undistracted.
  2. Second, writing without thinking often surfaces unexpected insights: things you had forgotten or didn’t realise 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 often bring solutions.

As journalist Oliver Burkeman says, at first he was sceptical. Now he wishes he’d started doing Morning Pages years ago.

Many people have called intuition the highest form of intelligence. And Einstein himself said, 

“There is no logical path to [finding new understanding]; only intuition… can reach them.”

Is your conscious mind is struggling to find the answer to a problem? Is it worth trying out Morning Pages to call on the power of your unconscious intuition?


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

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(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)


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