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

In a world where so much is changing at once, we need better ways to make sense of what is happening around us.

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

Worse, our conscious, rational minds will try to make sense of things according to the way the world used to work. And in a changing world those assumptions might no longer hold true. We assumed, for example, that catching Covid-19 would then make us immune. But that turned out to be wrong. 

In a changing world, the bottom line is that our rational minds can’t have all the answers.

The good news is that our rational minds are not the only reliable method we have for making sense of the world. When top sportspeople respond in a split second to put the ball exactly where they want it to go they aren’t using their conscious, rational minds. They don’t gather data, plot charts, and run alternative scenarios. Instead they use their instinctive, unconscious minds to respond in an instant. And with training they can become even better.

In the same way, our unconscious minds are already spotting the new patterns that are emerging all around us. So we too can lead ourselves better through this time of change if we learn to draw on the power of our unconscious intuition in new ways.

We’ve already seen how this can be achieved through exercise, creativity, meditation, and spending time in nature. But this can take weeks.

A much faster approach is to use something called Morning Pages.

The way this 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 think, don’t edit, just write whatever comes into your mind
  • Make a note of anything that seems significant
  • Get on with your day

The benefits this brings 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
  3. And third, as well as bringing a better understanding of what is happening, Morning Pages often bring solutions

Journalist Oliver Burkeman says that he was sceptical at first. But now he wishes he’d started doing Morning Pages years ago.

Of course, many people have called intuition the highest form of intelligence. And as Einstein himself said, 

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

Is your conscious mind is struggling to find the answer to a problem? Would it be worth calling on the power of your unconscious intuition to solve it, using Morning Pages?


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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