Yoga doesn't work for me. Neither does meditation. Or exercising in the morning. Coffee helps get me going but one thing I've learned that really helps start my day off right is actually three things: three pages of journal writing. It clears my head, it calms me down and it helps me focus.
When I first heard of author Julia Cameron's "Morning Pages," I'll admit, I was very skeptical and the last thing I wanted was yet another item on my daily to-do list. Still, I was willing to give it a shot and 96 days later, I'm thrilled to say it's really changed how I approach my day for the better. Here are a few reasons and why the concept of journal writing three pages longhand every morning might work for you, too.
1. It forces me to clear my mind early in the morning.
How many times do we wake up and things are already circling our brain with things we need to do that day, emails we need to send or meetings we need to schedule? Sure, our planners or Bullet Journal can help capture all of that but there is something magical about just writing things out that forces you to really think about what you're doing and dumping it all on the paper has a cathartic effect. It's now out there. Out of your head. It clears your headspace.
2. It helps me come up with ideas for my work.
We often don't have the luxury to brainstorm ideas with our colleagues or friends about things we want to do or want to work through but having three full pages to fill every single morning gives us that time and permission to work through things and ideas.
3. Morning Pages helps me become an idea generator.
No one sees my Morning Journal. My journal is just for my eyes which makes it easier to write out idea after idea, no matter how ludicrous or out-of-reach it might seem. Story ideas, business ideas, prospective client ideas, vacation ideas, they all get captured in my Morning Pages. And I love thinking of ideas.
Even if they are ridiculous, the simple act of writing it down helps me think about the possibilities not only during those early morning hours but throughout the day and even longer -- further cementing the benefits of writing them down during Morning Pages time.
4. It saves time.
Writing out three pages might seem like it sucks up time but the opposite has happened for me: it has saved me time.
It normally takes me about 30 to 45-minute to write my Morning Pages but the result is that it helps me focus on my day and what really needs my attention, making me more efficient, as well as help me identify things I just don't need to do at all. I'm happy with that trade-off.
5. It makes me happy.
I can't emphasize the importance of this enough. Every morning I look forward to this time with my journal. I imagine it's the same feeling some people have heading to their yoga practice or taking their time to meditate or whatever it is they do in the morning to start their day off right. I have a pretty journal I bought for this occasion.
I light my beautifully-scented candle, grab my hand-thrown mug filled with my delicious hot coffee and grab my favorite fountain pen. Before I open to the blank page, I inhale deeply and start writing. It's my version of the most perfect and calm way to start the day.
For those who want to give Morning Pages a try, the one recommendation I would have is to make sure you don't break the chain. For this to really work, just like any kind of exercise, you need to stay committed to doing it daily, otherwise, you won't see the benefits.