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Spend 5 Minutes Everyday to Give Yourself the Best Mirror of your life

How to Use Five Minute Journal for Self-Reflection

By Z3n Ch4nPublished 3 years ago 7 min read
Spend 5 Minutes Everyday to Give Yourself the Best Mirror of your life
Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

“until you make your unconscious conscious, it will direct you and you will call it fate” — Carl Jung

Why do I do 5-Minutes Journal (5MJ)?

I started writing 5MJ after reading the book “Tools of Titans” by one of my favorite authors, Tim Ferriss. I was hoping it will bring me some insights into daily life. I wrote whatever I want, maybe one word, a list, in Chinese, English, or Japanese.

At the beginning of my journey of 5MJ, nothing happened. However, a few days later, I was more focused both at work and in personal life. Also, some little things that occurred unnoticed were became realized. I felt more productive at work as I get more jobs done. With more control over my daily routines, I started to appreciate little details, too.

It was the best five minutes I spent, and so I keep on doing it. Nowadays, I do it twice per day, both in the morning and before bed. It is the practice for self-reflection and inspiration.

5MJ-AM (Morning)

5MJ-AM can enhance prioritization and motivation. Writing down tasks gives you time to process them. Write the To-Do items that come to your mind. Your mind would help you to select the most important thing.

Reviewing your energy level helps you to choose what to do and what NOT. If you are not feeling well, why not just take a day off or doing something relaxing after work? Pay more attention to what your body tells you.

Writing down dreams should be done right after you are awake. Some dreams haunt me and keep looping in my mind that impact your day. If you dreamed about the same thing repeatedly, it would be good to cross-check the things in common.

I also write about gratification. I am always thankful to feel refreshed when I wake up (I feel tired and angry with a headache!). Try to appreciate the little things in the morning. It would give you the strength to overcome difficulties during the day.

Some examples of 5MJ-AM:

  • Work out the “real” To-do list for the day that you can get it done.
  • How are you feeling that morning? If it is worst than usual, try to think about what went wrong (Was that the late evening exercise makes you tired? Or too much wine last night? Or the late snacks?)
  • Recall your dream, whether with color or Black and White (Mine are often stories or just a short period of images).
  • To kick start your day by writing about three things/ people that you want to thank you. It takes some practice to come up with things/ people. Say thank you helps you to be grateful to start your day.
Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

5MJ-PM (Late Afternoon/ Night)

One friend of mine trying to lose weight write down everything she ate. She said it helped her to be more mindful when choosing what to eat. When I was on Secondary School Athletics team, I remembered I wrote down my training logs every night to keep track of my progress. It was encouraging when I saw my best 10km time was improving week by week.

Although I do not know this term exists, this kind of training/ progress log is one type of 5MJ. Visualization of your little successes could push you further on your journey.

For overall health, by recording some events, such as high body temperature, elevated heart rate (if you keep tracks of them), or just some unaccustomed body reaction like headache, acting agitated, or feeling more tired than usual. It is also worth writing down uncomfortable feelings after eating something new.

By writing 5MJ every day, you form a baseline over your overall health. No need to track everything but focus on the things you are concerned about at that period. Remember this: Maintaining a healthy body is the most crucial element of accomplishment.

The most fulfilling or insightful 5MJ is the one written before bedtime. I used my 5MJ-PM as a self-reflection time. It helps me to put everything in my mind down before bed. This practice now becomes part of my night rituals to clear my mind and relax for sleep.

Some examples of 5MJ-PM:

  • What you have achieved that day (at work, in school, in a relationship)
  • Funny things that happened that day — I keep a section in my journey to write it down. Now I have pages of funny things that happened in my life.
  • Your training logs if you are working for a target, no matter it is physical or mental.
  • The food you consumed, as I mentioned — Is good to be mindful of food choices for health reasons.
  • Book review. Sometimes I would put down quotes I admired. I wrote down reasons that I loved/ hated a book.
  • Study logs similar to training logs. The visualization of progress keeps you fighting.
  • Mistakes made on that day. You want to find patterns of wrongdoing. Some mistakes you cannot risk making again should also be written down to review later as a reminder.
My customized (black nibs) LAMY and Mnemosyne notebook. | Copyright by the author

Better to include personal feedback/ feeling on each item. Noting in a short form or just a word would be sufficient for this purpose. The reason for leaving feedbacks is for direction review.

Keeping tracks of what you achieve does not mean that is what you SHOULD do. Doing the right thing is more important than doing something right. You gain more insight into your goal in the middle of the journey by monitoring your feelings on the way.

Why I use Fountain Pen to write 5MJ

For a long time, I have a fountain pen and journal with me. Why you may ask, would I do such a thing? That is because writing with a fountain pen feels better, and there are several advantages to pencils and ball pens. Sometimes I write only to test my new pen or ink I bought. After trying it for a while, 5MJ becomes one of the positive habits.

One thing I should highlight is the fountain pen is also the best instrument for 5-Minute Journal.

  1. When using a fountain pen, choosing your paper carefully for different ink is essential. But once you find the match, writing with a fountain pen is effortless. While merely moving your hand is sufficient to write with a fountain pen, writing with a pen/ pencil requires you to apply pressure on the paper. This smooth writing experience keeps ideas flowing.
  2. You cannot use a correction pen/ rubber to erase words. You are forced to write down everything.
  3. 5MJ is the best when you can have a 100% concentration. Using electronic means for 5MJ is more vulnerable to disturbance, such as email, messages, and apps notifications.

How to start

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Just write down what happened during the day! Buy yourself a pretty notebook or pen also increase your interest to start writing. If you enjoy typing instead of the old-school writing on paper, please go ahead.

Type whatever on your mind anytime you want. If you choose typing as your tool for 5MJ, be careful about all disturbing notifications and messages from your device.

5MJ does not mean you must write for 5 minutes only. Do not spend too much time on it as it makes you think — no need to filter and choose what to write. Try putting everything down from your mind to the paper in front of you. It is a practice to free the “temporary storage” of your brain.

If you do not get used to converting thoughts into words, as many experts told, it is better to start from small (maybe a 1MJ per day). Make it as effortless as possible to save your grit. Once it becomes a habit, you will write more.


5MJ can act as a short diary. I don’t need to share it with anyone but myself. Those I tried to numb or procrastinated will hunt me by checking what I wrote. Looking back on your morning status could be a good indicator that you do not get enough sleep or your body improves on the situation you are facing.

You will be more conscious about things that happened during the day if you write them down. Most importantly, you can make your life more valuable to YOU. What you put inside would become a little part of who you are. I was touched by reading/ reviewing my 5MJ weekly and monthly. Those tiny little things that I forget cheers me up.

5MJ is with you, and helps you go back to your “main route.” You will find what/who/how to give you strength, what/when/who makes you happy, and what do not. That is why when people ask me what the best lifehack is, I will tell them to keep a paper and a pen with you every day. Start writing anything that comes across your mind.

Thank you for reading — happy Writing and 5MJ.


About the Creator

Z3n Ch4n

Interested in Infosec & Biohacking. Security Consultant. Love reading and running.


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