Moments of Presence

This was inspired by an article in the New Yorker, or NYT (I often conflate the two in my memory), where someone would bring their notebook to a cafe and simply write about what they observed for fifteen minutes at a time.

I adopted it, and found it particularly powerful when I left my phone, and just brought a pen and yellow notebook to my local coffee shop in the morning before my workday started.

Here is the process I’ve found most helpful…


  • Black ballpoint pen
  • Medium-sized yellow legal notepad
  • Timer

Time: 5 to 15 minutes (more obviously if you can swing it)

Step 1: Start by really attuning to the present moment. This seems like a throwaway part, but it’s amazing the amount of information our minds tune out as we go through our days.

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Step 2: After you’ve started writing what you're observing, let your mind follow the kite of curiosity. I notice that once I’ve decided to spend this period purposefully not being ‘productive’, or with any end goal in mind except to observe and write, curiosity pops up about things I normally overlook or filter out.

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Step 3: Enjoy

Step 4: Once I’ve filled up an entire notebook, I like to review it at a later date, sometimes it’s weekly, and other times I carve out half a Saturday and go through all of the writings from that month. As an entrepreneur, my observations often lead to questions or ideas about something missing or a product opportunity, so using the David Allen methodology - I like to add those to an idea hopper. I assume this happens with other creative fields, e.g. writers will have ideas for books, artists for art, and a

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