Morning is a good time for getting things out of our systems — so why not clear out your brain as well?
Whether you do a version of the famous “morning pages” from The Artist’s Way — three pages of longhand on whatever you’re thinking about that morning — or invest in a waterproof notebook so you can jot down your shower thoughts, being able to write down everything that bubbles to the surface immediately after you wake up can turn out to be an extremely productive way of starting your day.
In my case, I keep a notebook and pen next to my yoga mat and write down all of the thoughts that come up during my yoga practice. This can be everything from “buy garlic” to “if the protagonist in the novel I’m drafting says X in the first chapter, it’ll set up her decision to do Y later.”
Not that you need to write so many words, if you’re in the shower or on the subway or transitioning between asanas. I jotted down “Ellen comments on win conditions,” and trusted that I’d be able to translate what that meant when I opened up my draft.
Sometimes my morning brain dump sessions will completely change the shape of my workday; I’ll be inspired to pitch a new article or reach out to a source I hadn’t considered, for example. Other times I’ll write stuff like “FaceTime,” which means that I haven’t FaceTimed my nephew in a while and I need to get that on the schedule, or “send Mum Planet Money recycling podcast,” which... well, you don’t need me to explain what that one means.
One of the more interesting facets of this kind of morning writing is how easily I’m able to cull two pages of scribbles down to three or four good actions. I might write down “start bake bread again” or “buy silver bobby pins” and then decide, after I’ve had my cup of coffee and am reviewing the notes I took earlier that morning, that I don’t really want to prioritise bread making — and I don’t need any more bobby pins.
Just because I write something down doesn’t mean it has to happen. I’m just observing the thoughts that go through my mind every morning and capturing them on paper.
If you have your own version of the morning brain dump, how do you get it done? (I suspect there are a few of us who scribbles down thoughts while sitting on the toilet.) If you haven’t tried writing down everything that passes through your brain in the mornings, it’s worth a try. I bet you’ll be surprised with what comes up, and how useful it turns out to be.