PROBLEM SOLVING - VACUUM INSIDE YOUR HEAD
If there is one hidden gem to attaining focus and unearthing your problems, it has to be Morning Pages: the process of writing 3 sides of A4 paper, when you first wake up in the morning.
Now this probably sounds absolutely bloody ridiculous or even downright boring, but "don’t knock it 'til you try it". Morning Pages are the equivalent of sticking a hoover in your head and sucking out all the chitter-chatter, thoughts and mental junk that is fogging up your mind.
With Morning Pages you write down thoughts and feelings without editing anything. Think of it as a conscious stream of written daydreaming. Everything goes down on the page. Nothing is taboo. The results are remarkable.
For example: You start to write down how tired you feel because the night before you episode-binged on Netflix. Your mind then realises there’s a link between your late night TV watching and your inability to switch off your overactive mind. You write down all the negative thoughts that have been bottling up and manifesting over the past few months, You can’t write quick enough. Suddenly your three pages have been written and your day is now ready to start AND you now have clarity on some deeper concerns that have been keeping you awake late at night!
I can’t stress enough the incredible power and profitable possibilities of Morning Pages.
The creator of Morning Pages is Julia Cameron. Creativity is a major focus but Morning Pages have so much more power than just creativity. Problem solving, productivity, work focus, life/relationship insights… The possibilities are boundless. A truly outstanding life-tool that costs you nothing, just a small amount of time and a cup of your favourite morning brew. Try them tomorrow morning, do them for a week and begin to be astounded.
Still skeptical? Read this brilliant article by Oliver Burkeman (The Guardian)
The reason for the below writing is to share and show the simplicity of Morning Pages. All this crud was floating around and clogging up my thinking, which in turn what was fogging up my focus…
Friday 26th April 2019 —
I am starting these pages very late in the day. 9:51am to be exact. Usually I write my pages at 5:30. But as I’ve changed my morning routine the pages have had to take a different approach. No-one cares about this but me. It’s all in my head, not theirs. Also today these pages are going public which is a really scary thought as they could contain things that are very private to me but nonetheless I want to practice what I preach. My whole approach to working is to be open and collaborative. In today’s business world it seems this is a trait that is missing. People are rarely replying to genuine, insight led emails and InMails, especially ‘busy’ professionals. Maybe if we placed the bank details of a $10,000 bank transfer attached to each message, we’d get a reply. Weirdly, that is exactly what is happening when we reach out to people. We could sometimes be saving them thousands of dollars, Euros or Pounds by helping them solve a problem. The problem could be an employee who isn’t performing as well as they need to be. The problem could be a process or system that is completely screwed up and is driving a team insane. Think about how much time, emotional energy and money that is taking away from doing ‘business as normal’. Solving these problems is simple. Firstly, follow up with the people who are genuinely reaching out and offering their help. Secondly, just talk. Open up, share your challenges. For fuck sake, a problem shared is a problem halved. Trying to connect with people via social media, be that LinkedIn, Twitter, IG or any other means just seems to take the honesty and realism out of what we’re trying to do, which is, simply work together and help one another, Oh and get paid for doing it. Why isn’t there a real physical place like a cafe, bar or hangout that allows you to walk in and talk to people about business & daily challenges? Think LinkedIn, but a real tangible place. Business would be discussed, connections would be made, problems solved. Maybe in a few years these places will exist but until then we’re stuck with the laptop, phone or tablet screen that disconnects us from being human and making real human connections. Now what else is on my mind? Ah yes, the weekend. It’s Kingsday which means a massive orange party for The Netherlands. Ironically it’s also a day where you can legally sell things on the street. Be an entrepreneur for the day. You can sell your old bike and the games in your cupboard or make some cakes and sell glasses of bubbly. Anything goes! Last year there was that break dancer who pitched up in front of our place and did kids break dance lessons for €1. What a lovely guy he was. So what can we expect this year? Hopefully the weather will be kind.
Now we’re onto page two and I’m usually off on some real random thoughts by this point. This is what I love about writing Morning Pages is the vacuum cleaner affect of the mind decluttering itself of all the crap that swims around my head. I’ve found out so much about my self over the past years. I’ve become a calmer person, I’ve learned to keep quiet and listen. I’ve started eating more healthy food and I’ve made some great new approaches to working. All by sitting down each morning and letting my mind do the thinking and my fingers do the writing. My business eBook would never have been written and published had I not offloaded my thinking and got deep out of my comfort zone. It was scary letting my words and thinking go out into the world. 4 weeks of research, interviews and writing was something that lead me to learn; when I put my mind to something, I get into it and do it well. Who’d have thought I’d be messaging with and speaking to some very influential business people. Right now I’m enjoying this Spiritual Spring mix by Juliane Wolf on Soundcloud. How does she find the tracks to mix and blend together so well? It’s been playing in the background since I started writing and it’s just kicked in and made me think about how my mind has been transformed, drifting off into its own places from the things I’ve written. The only thing that is missing from these ‘late’ Morning Pages is the dim morning light. At 5:30 there is a calmness in the house as I sit on my own and type out my thoughts. No distractions. Just me, the light from the laptop and the sound of the Mac keyboard clicking as I type. Now Morning Pages are supposed to be hand written. I tried that for a while. It worked well but I found that my thoughts were slower. So I tried the laptop and that’s when my thoughts found a rhythm of their own. How much off-course have I gone with this writing today?
What else is hidden in my brain? Howard Roake. The main character in the book The Foundtainhead by Ayn Rand. I feel a very close affinity to this character. I follow a path of most resistance. I don’t look for leg ups or easy routes. I’ve always done things the harder way. Boy have I got the scars to prove it. Leaving the UK and heading to Germany was not an easy thing to do. I didn’t speak the language. The internet was just in its bare bones so everything was pretty much impossible to do. I still have the little Lonely Planet guide that become a constant companion on a daily basis. It’s very well thumbed and saw me though many different scenarios. If I think how our mobile phones have come along since the early days. And, how much can do on them now.
So last page. 10:10am. Time to take a deep breath as I’ve been hunched in a weird position that I was unaware of until just now. It’s strange how when you listen to your mind and let your fingers write everything down how you miss everything else around you. It’s like having horse blinkers on. Nothing comes into view. Just the screen, keyboard and thinking. I’m feeling hungry. Stomach is rumbling. A banana needs nomnoming pretty soon. The word lead generation is such a derogatory term. Police search for ‘leads’ to crimes that have been committed. So why in sales is it called lead generation? Surely there must be a more positive wording to use? Potential work friends? That sounds really funny. Especially if you say it like Ricky Gervais would. “Ooooo I need to find some potential work friends!” Watching After Life was great. There were so many poignant moments as well as some real painfully funny scenes. Kind of like the thoughts that flow through my head when I’m writing my Morning Pages. So with half a page to go, I’m thinking of what I need to do for the next hour. Obviously I need to eat that banana. But after that I’m follow-up with the potential work friends that I have created from all the people who’ve connected with me thanks to the eBook. The feedback to this has been much more than I could of wished for. Some connections haven’t got back to me but that’s to be expected. People are busy, I get that. Some people probably think the eBook isn’t worth their time and isn’t relevant to them. I get that too. As the old saying goes, you can’t please all the people all of the time. But those you can please, be thankful for and do a good job for them. I’m looking forward to the podcast from Inside Jobs. It was great talking to them. One thing that I think I’ll start to look into is making a weekly podcast myself. The interviews I have with people could be the premise to this. I’ll need to put some thinking down on paper and work out who to connect with and how long the podcast would be. I’ll need to buy a microphone and set up a digital account to record good quality audio. Note to self, add this to the Daily Productive Notebook on Notion. See, I’m done! Thoughts hoovered out. Time to get on with the rest of my day! But first nom nom nom, where’s that banana???