I’ve been spending time this month fiddling around with the premise of activating my subconscious mind just before going to sleep. The idea is that if I ruminate on meaningful questions for ten minutes, write them down on a piece of paper, and do nothing else to distract my mind before falling asleep, my mind will work on these questions as I rest.
The second phase of this activity is to wake up in the morning and perform ten minutes of written output, mulling over any ideas running around in my head at the time. I have to keep my mind free from suffocating on inputs like email, news articles, and other temptations until my thoughts are hashed out.
With each second spent taking in information rather than turning it out, my mind will become increasingly influenced, unable to create thoughts from a blank, morning slate.
The goal when writing my ideas down in the morning is to have the questions from the night before spur creative ideas the morning after—a pretty enticing principle. Unfortunately, the results have been rudimentary thus far.
My questions in the evening have been strong and thought provoking, but the ideas I come up with in the morning have little to do with the questions I addressed the night before.
Now, the ideas have been solid and have allowed me to put some things on paper that have been desperately floating around inside my head for weeks, months, and years, consistently being neglected and sometimes lost. But, the disconnect between the two activities has been a little disappointing.
I’m not sure whether I’m asking the wrong questions, not truly freeing my mind from other mental distractions as I’m falling asleep, or a combination of both. But, with one week before the month ends and the new year begins, I’m going to simplify the task.
Rather than write down multiple questions over the course of ten minutes, I’m going to calm my mind through meditation for the first five minutes, then allow my mind to focus deeply on the one question that is truly grasping for my attention.
I will write this one question down and let it be the single thought my subconscious has to work out over the next seven or eight hours of sleep. When I wake up, I will revisit the question and focus on only writing the ideas that address it.
One thing I don’t want to lose in the process is the “thought-dumping” I’ve been conducting in the mornings. There is great value in doing just that, so as the weeks go by, I’m going to be working on a side habit.
I want to develop a consistent method of getting my ideas down on paper. I don’t know about you, but my mind tends to run a mile a minute with ideas, ambitions, and goals coming and going endlessly, hurriedly asking to be taken into consideration.
There have been too many times in the past where an idea was burning in my mind, only to disappear moments later. I’ve written before about my belief that if an idea is truly that good, it’ll revisit quite often until it’s finally addressed.
However, every idea doesn’t need to be the greatest thought the world has ever encountered. The secondary and tertiary ideas that come along far more frequently could result in an elegant and unique construction when combined.
Writing down an idea takes little time. I’m already wasting my mental energy running through my mind over and over again, so why not get in on paper, relieve myself of the worry I’m going to forget it, and move on with my day?
Of course, an idea merely written down is worthless unless it is revisited with clear focus and attention. With that being said, it will be my goal to determine a day of the week (most likely Friday) to review the ideas I had over the past seven days and determine which are worth pursuing, which are worth keeping for a rainy day, and which are underdeveloped and can comfortably be tossed by the wayside.
To add an additional component to the madness, and probably run the risk of not having enough activation energy to build the habit at all, I want to keep a side list that prioritizes my goals.
This has become more and more important as I balance the weight of my main job, my personal writing, and my consultancy work. Fortunately, all three weights have similar components, so if I need to build my knowledge-base for one, I will be building it for the other two simultaneously.
The prioritization that comes into play is that I might need to focus on story ideas at work, social media strategy for my personal content, and brand management for my consultancy work. Making sure I understand the highest need each week will allow me to focus more clearly and without the anxiety of thinking something else needs to get done.
I’m excited about what this next week has in store, and in my final post of the month, I’ll dig into the actual content I’ve produced during these evening and morning sessions.