I think of myself as being a bit inconsistent. While I would like to “always” do something or the other, I don’t. I can try but I just don’t usually find consistency that interesting. Knowing this about myself has stopped me from doing some things. For example, I have never dyed my hair. I knew that I would not keep it up.
After having said that, I have found a consistent morning routine that has helped my productivity.
Each morning, I try to go for what I call the “trifecta”. The trifecta consists of doing my knee exercises, saying some prayers, and writing my morning pages.
Morning pages are a concept from author Julia Cameron. She explains the process in her book, The Artist Way. The basic thought is that you should start the day writing in long hand for three pages.
Why do I do it? I have found that by writing the pages, I find some focus for the day. I make lists of things that I need to do or want to do and I try and catch some random thoughts that float by. Sometimes during the day, I will refer back to that day’s pages to see if I am doing what I thought I needed to do that day.
I think that Ms Cameron found that stories would surprise her on her pages. I would not say that I get surprised that way often. It is more the process of finding out what I am thinking about for the coming day. Do I have a lot to say? Sometimes I have NOTHING to say. Really. There are times that I sit and write about how I can’t believe that I still have two pages to write and can’t come up with anything. Sometimes my mind is just that blank.
Finishing my pages or better yet my “trifecta” starts the day off with an accomplishment. It gives me a boost to go in to work. I am also ready to work because I have gone through what needs to be done that day.
Now that I have been doing them for the last year, I can see their value. It is a great focusing tool. It gets you thinking and writing. I think that the benefit of doing it in longhand is not worrying about correcting your spelling or punctuation. As I type this, I see all sorts of red, green, and blue marks on the page. With the pages, I don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. I just write without the thought that I have to go back and edit. The pages get words rolling around in my head. It frees up space for my mind to roam over a variety of topics because I can generally see what I have to do and then can move on in my thoughts.
I try very hard to write before I check out my email or social media. It doesn’t often work (see inconsistent comments above) but I think it does work better if I start off without checking the computer.
I don’t save my pages. They are not something of interest for anyone but myself. And to be honest, they are a bit illegible. There are not great thoughts about my life or my friends. It is not a journal. I don’t talk about people (to make it juicy enough to want to read) or things I have done. It could just be called a mind dump. It clears it out and lets me start fresh.
When I started, I bought a pack of a dozen legal pads to use. I don’t need anything fancy and because I throw them away, I don’t want to feel guilty throwing away something nice. Just a pen and the pad are all I need. It is easy to pack when I am out of town. (but much harder to execute when not in my own place.)
While I think that part of the original intent by Ms. Cameron was to help artists to “unblock”, I think it is a useful tool for everyone. I think that by doing a morning “mind sweep” that your day can start out on track and you can be ready for what needs to be done that day.
Thanks for reading!