In the world of diary notebooks and productivity planners, there is rarely a tool that is widely adopted yet conceptually sound. Most applications and personal-development products are offensively ignorant of how motivation systems work, falling thus in the realm of fads. However, in this 5-minute journal review I will present a productivity planner that tackles prioritization and wellbeing from an entirely different angle. The notebook is older than a decade, but undeniably relevant even now, in 2021. So, let me unpack a bag of words, and familiarize you with the five-minute journal, offering my critique.
Writing a 5 minute journal review in 2021 seems redundant. Many people have already shared their thoughts via blogs and Amazon reviews, and there is nothing so inherently special about the planner in question observing its surface.
However, I want to dig below what is already written, presenting a fresh and relevant take on one of the most popular productivity tools of the last decade.
What is the five-minute journal?
The 5 minute journal is a simple notebook where several personal development concepts collide. In a dietary jargon, it is the smoothie of healthy habits, which reinforce a proactive mindset, positive thinking, and goal oriented behavior.
Created by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, from intelligent change, the idea behind the five-minute journal is to offer people a fast and reliable method of morning planning, gratitude, and end of day reflection.
The picture above gives a nice reference point for exploring some of the concepts behind the notebook. So let’s dig in and see why this is one of the most comprehensive personal development tools, despite of its time format.
The 5 minute journal as a gratitude journal
Besides the date on the top and the inspiring quote right below, the 5 minute journal includes two sections markedly distinguishing between mornings and evenings.
The first section, which is the morning section, starts with an exercise in gratitude. You list three things for which you feel grateful, in order to reinforce positive thinking. The inspiring quote on top changes daily, and paired with your first exercise it reaffirms some of the most prominent methods for self-improvement, which is gratefulness.
According to a study published in Frontiers of psychology, titled “The neural correlates of gratitude”, this powerful emotion correlates with brain regions associated with relief from stress as well as interpersonal bonding.
Even meditation experts propose the habit of practicing gratitude daily, as a healthy behavior, capable of adjusting your expectations, promoting positive emotions, and nurturing a state of calm.
The five-minute journal as a productivity planner
When it comes to popular people promoting this notebook, it is safe to say that Tim Ferriss wrote some of the most positive 5-minute journal reviews on the internet. A productivity aficionado, and icon of the Bay area, Ferriss believes that the concept of the 5-minute journal perfectly aligns with prominent methods of planning in the past.
Similar to that of Benjamin Franklin, this daily planner hones down on a list of important tasks, which sit at the top of your productivity hierarchy.
Therefore, instead of falling prey to a garden variety of distractions, looking at your journal would always point out your true North.
I find this concept very refreshing because it removes friction from my day, minimizing the number of important tasks, and narrowing my focus. The idea behind this productivity planning exercise mimics Pareto’s Law – what are the 20% of things that would bring you 80% of the reward? Why not start your day by tackling them down?
The 5 minute journal as a daily affirmation tool
Right below these two sections, you will have the opportunity to practice daily affirmations. These, according to one study published in the Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience can help individuals maintain a positive self-view, by reflecting on self-worth.
Ultimately, as per the results of this study, daily positive affirmations lead to positive self-valuation, as well as decreased sedentary behavior following the practice.
Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, notes that social-psychological processes among students propagate themselves over time, and interventions can promote well-being and improved achievement. This means that negative self-image tends to reinforce unless intervened upon.
The 5 minute journal provides an opportunity to intervene on a daily basis, setting up a prevention protocol for identity changes towards the negative.
In my experience, if you want to achieve a set of goals, it is not merely enough to stay diligent. The best way is to create an identity adjustment, whereas your self becomes realigned with the new habit. In the case of exercise, it is not only about doing the push-ups, but starting to see yourself as a person who wants to do them – as a lean, muscular, fit individual, an athlete even.
The evening section
The final sections of the journal are dedicated to your evening ritual, where you pause to perform an end of day reflection. No self-improvement is complete without some retrospective thinking, and it is certainly helpful when the practice gets embedded into your daily journal.
Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas knew that in order for the 5 minute journal to be effective, it had to offer an opportunity for self-reflection and readjustment.
Both the morning and evening sections of the journal are important, but it is the second one where you get to evaluate your day, find out your commitment to prioritization, productivity, and overall wellbeing.
Listing the amazing things that happened
The first exercise of the evening section once again has to do with gratitude. Although not directly, the journal forces you to find the positive in your day, as you are listing things that contributed towards your happiness, excitement, and wellbeing.
This is yet another opportunity to feel grateful and acknowledge your wins, no matter their significance.
In my experience, if you struggle to fill in the lines, it is best to sometimes leave them blank. However, make sure to write down at least one thing, irrespective of how small it was. Sometimes, the experience of drinking a cup of tea, within the right context, can be filled with joy. Write that down.
Improving your day
The last exercise in the notebook, and the last one I will review separately in this 5 minute journal review, is the two-line reflection of your day, where you list ways in which it could have been better.
This exercise creates the opportunity for recognizing your usual pitfalls, and offers awareness that you can carry with you in the future.
Sometimes, awareness is all it takes to make a radical change, leaving behind old and unproductive habits.
Why I love the 5 minute journal?
Well, as the name suggests, I love the fact that it is relatively constrained in regards to time. You can certainly think about each line for minutes on end, but most of the days the things that sit on your mind seem to unroll the moment pen touches paper.
I also love the fact that several well-established concepts in the relevant literature are neatly and compactly included in the journal.
If the journal were to be a dietary supplement, it would certainly be a multivitamin, cramming together some of the most important necessities, in order to combat all deficiencies, and promote wellbeing!
In terms of psychology, the 5 minute journal is certainly the prevention protocol for a number of unhealthy patters of thought and behavior, as well as the supplementation protocol for personal development and self-improvement, as they relate to achieving personal goals and improving wellbeing.
Conclusion of the 5 minute journal review
Reviewing many products in the past, though most of them within the realm of physical health and especially bodyweight exercise, I have learned to quickly diagnose the pros and cons of each.
This notebook, however, is special in a way that it doesn’t have any negatives. It promotes optimism, joy and happiness, through exercises for gratitude, daily planning, positive self-affirmations and reflection.
At the price of $20, it covers nearly seven months of writing, supposing that you fill in one page every day.
Shipping might be a problem, and this is the only contention I have about the 5 minute journal. In this case, I know many people who create the design by themselves and print it on a blank paper notebook, for personal use.
Buying the notebook buys you 24/7 support, and a 6 month money-back guarantee. It also comes with free US shipping for orders over $40, that is, if you purchase your order from the official site. Amazon sells it a bit cheaper, though you have to browse through a list of buying options covering both new and used.
I’d really want to read a used notebook, just imagine the experience! But distracting thoughts aside, used probably mean purchased but never used copies.
All in all, this is a perfect personal development tool that you simply must try. It is a nice supplement to any morning routine, and certainly a calming practice to include into your evening routine.