The 5-Minute Journal Experiment

Yesterday, I was listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast.

The topic was “The Magic of Mindfulness”. Mindfulness is defined by Tim as “a present-state awareness that helps you to be non-reactive”.

It’s an arena I’ve dipped my toe in a few times, but never fully jumped into the pool. I’ve tried meditating with “Calm” (it’s an app). It’s a really great way to start the day but for me it works best a reset button during it; perhaps when I’ve lost my focus.

But mindfulness isn’t just about meditation, it’s about being more appreciative and aware of your surroundings. it’s about focusing on the present and staying in tune with what’s right in front of you; which is increasingly important in our hyper-stimulated world.

When listening to the episode, I stumbled upon another technique that has since re-calibrated my life.

It’s called the 5-minute journal. It’s simple. Write for five minutes in the morning after you wake up. Write for five minutes in the evening before you go to sleep. Tim’s recommendation is guided like this:


- I am grateful for…

- What would make today great?

- I am… (daily affirmations)


- Three amazing things that happened today

- How could I have made today better?

I simplified it for myself in a way that’s very similar to Julia Cameron’s, “Morning Pages”. I just write a stream of consciousness for 5 uninterrupted minutes with a timer.

I really like that it’s only five minutes because you wouldn’t believe how quickly five minutes go by. Especially once you start drifting down your stream of thoughts.

Here are a few things that have changed in the seven days I’ve done it so far.

Clarity to start the day

You know that groggy feeling that you wake up with in the morning? Instead of reacting to whatever hits me first, I’m able to shake out the cob webs and begin putting a semblance of order to my thoughts. Caffeine-less coffee for the mind.

No trouble getting out of bed

After I did it the first few days, I got an eerie feeling of accomplishment. Now it’s something I’m itching to do when I wake up first thing in the morning. It works as a natural alarm clock. I try to capture those very first thoughts that are hanging on my mind when I’m waking up and so waking up is a breeze.

Sharper focus

Usually, the first thing I do when the timer goes off is briefly reflect on what stood out to me in the session (*note to start bolding it*). My natural inclination is to head to my day planner and organize my task list. I use if you’re curious. That’s something that was difficult to make a habit prior to this exercise.

Present-state awareness

It’s also improved my consciousness and self-awareness during the day. If I’ve lost focus, I can more easily recognize it’s time to step away from what I’m working on and reset. I attribute that to being more aware of what it feels like to actually be focused in the first place.

The whole process serves as a pleasant change of pace to reacting to various notifications on my phone or the instincts of mushy morning brain. It’s lead to a distinctly different start to my day that positively drizzles onto everything else I do during the day.

It’s actually how I wrote the first draft of this post. I just added another five minutes to the timer and added a prompt at the top of the page and here we are.

I think that I’ll build on it in the future. Move to seven minutes, then ten and so on. We’ll see where my mind takes me.

For now, I’m satisfied with the newly repaired power steering I have on my mornings and a positive new habit to boot.

Do you have any daily routines that help keep you in a state of mindfulness? Let me know!

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