The Five Minute Journal Review

Last year I tried something new.

I started writing every day in The Five Minute Journal.

My personal Five Minute Journal review and experience with expressing gratitude every day.
My personal Five Minute Journal review and experience with expressing gratitude every day.

This is my experience and review of The Five Minute Journal after using it (pretty much) every day for over a year.

What is the Five Minute Journal?

You write in the journal every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed. It takes less than 5 minutes after a few days of practice.

In the morning you write three things you are grateful for and three things you want to achieve that day. You also write a positive affirmation about yourself or your life.

In the evening you write three great things that happened that day and 1 thing you could have done better.

Every day you get a new quote, and once a week you get a challenge like “Go for a 30 minute walk on your own” or “Watch this TED talk”.

The journal also includes about 40 pages of instructions, examples, details on why this works and how it will benefit you.

Ok… but why?

This is about finding appreciation, peace, happiness, a more positive mindset and helping to achieve our goals.

Studies show that practicing gratitude boosts our general mood and gives health benefits including stronger immune systems and decreased brain aging.

There are also links found between the amount of gratitude expressed and the risk of depression or anxiety developing (i.e. reduce your risk by expressing more gratitude).

How long have you used The Five Minute Journal? Does it work?

I started using this journal around April 2015 (1 year prior to this review).

Yes, it works. I feel calmer, more appreciative of what I have in my life (instead of focusing on what I want), I value my friends and family more, I sleep better and I feel more in tune with what I really want.

I look forward to writing in it, I take it everywhere with me and I rarely miss a day.

BONUS FOR TRAVELERS: I travel a lot and week to week my life can be very different. Having this journal keeps me grounded and gives me that little sense of routine.

If you travel a lot or lack routine, The Five Minute Journal can give you an anchor in your days and make you feel more in control.
If you travel a lot or lack routine, The Five Minute Journal can give you an anchor in your days and make you feel more in control.

Is there anything you don’t like about it?

At $23+ it is quite expensive. If you are not in USA then the price is even more prohibitive; add another $20+ for shipping to the UK.

EDIT: It looks like they have cheaper shipping rates now and to the UK you have a $9 option. Check the “shipping calculator” in your shopping cart.

I would like to see an extra section for the end of the day writing; a request to my subconscious. When you are sleeping you are decompressing the day, making sense of thoughts, recharging and recalculating.

Quite often I have woken up with answers or better perspectives on situations. Having a place in the journal to request something like “Why am I worrying so much about X?” or “What is the best way to solve Y?” would be really beneficial.

They also have an App, but I feel that it really defeats the purpose. Physically writing and taking the time away from your phone/tablet is crucial to this process.

Any other tips or advice?

If you are not sure if this is for you, try it out with a normal notepad. However, be careful.. spending the money will give you a real psychological commitment to follow it through.

Use the coach.me app to form the habit of writing in this journal and ask questions to the community of people also using The Five Minute Journal.

I highly recommend using Coach.me to help form any new habits, track your progress and get support from a community also following that habit.
I highly recommend using Coach.me to help form any new habits, track your progress and get support from a community also following that habit.

This makes a great spontaneous gift for an open minded friend – this is the kind of simple thing that can really spark a big positive change in your life.

Where can I get it?

Buy online from http://www.fiveminutejournal.com/

This small habit has caused a massive, positive change in my life; I strongly recommend getting this journal and trying it out yourself.

What about you?

Do you use the Five Minute Journal or any other methods for gratitude? Let me know in the comments below:

What is success?

Success is not a place you reach and rest in.

Think of it like a garden. It needs regular watering, pruning, shaping and innovating.

Sometimes that money tree, which may have served us well for years, reaches the end of its life. Pull it out, break it down and use it to fertilise your new growth.

It is nice to wander through your garden of success and admire but don’t forget the small things you do every day that make it bloom.

Don’t make this same mistake

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
– Bill Gates

Here is something I have fixed recently.

Every evening I make a todo list of what I want to achieve the next day called “Today”. It includes my work, my personal life, fitness, reading and everything in between.

For as long as I can remember I have never completed the entire list.

Every single evening I was postponing tasks and convincing myself that I would do them the next day.

(along with even more tasks)

It got pretty ridiculous.

Some tasks sat on my “Today” list for weeks.

The result? A constant feeling that I was never doing enough. Very rarely did I feel that my day was a success because I didn’t reach the unachievable goals I set myself. I found it hard to switch off because I had so many open loops.

I push myself very hard in my personal life and in my business. But this was too much and was having a negative effect.

So I made a simple change and it made a world of difference.

I only put on my “Today” list the things that I absolutely had to do today. Only the things that I absolutely must do or the world will end.

Everything else is on a normal project todo list and prioritised. I start them only after doing my Today list.

(I won’t preach to you about how to organise yourself.. it is a personal thing. My only advice is keep reading, keep tweaking and keep looking for something that works for you).

I now achieve everything on my Today list and it feels good. I am motivated to work on the other tasks and am making more of my time.

Sometimes it is hard to see what is right in front of us. Constantly analyse what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you can do it better.

Find a way to improve every day.

How do you talk to your customers?

If you do any kind of business online then the way you communicate is absolutely crucial.

In this world of the typed word, emotions can be misinterpreted and messages can be misunderstood.

I am going to list my key principles in communicating with customers below but let us consider this mantra first.

(we have all heard it before)

The customer is always right

Do you agree?

I don’t.

This is a statement wide open to interpretation. Just like Christians can make any bible passage prove a point, business experts will twist these 5 simple words into exactly what they want.

If I sell software to my customer and they demand a refund after 7 months because “I was never able to access it” are they right?

No.

But..

The hidden message in this statement is “Always make the customer right”.

Here is my answer to the customer who wants a refund.

“I am sorry that you were unable to access your software and this absolutely should not happen. Unfortunately our policy only allows a refund after XX days but if you did request a refund during that time I will happily honour it.

Otherwise I will be more than happy to help you access the software and guide you through getting started. Please let me know exactly what happens when you try to access your account and I will get this sorted for you ASAP.”

They key is to make your customer wanted (because they are), make them feel important (because they are) and respect them (because they deserve it).

My Rules for Talking to Customers

1) Always be polite
I follow this rule in life but online it is especially important.

It is easy to skip off a “please” or a “thank you” but if you do then you run the risk of your messages being interpreted the wrong way.

2) Be formal.. or at least be grammatically correct
I like to be mostly formal in all messages to customers. When I do this I find that my words are taken more seriously and I am less likely to receive an emotion driven response.

It shows that you are professional, you take this seriously and you are to be trusted.

Your method might be different and a less formal communication can help your business/marketing in different ways. However, I do urge you to at least be grammatically correct.

It also helps to use a proper greeting and sign off. It shows your recipient that you are taking the time over the message and taking it seriously.

3) They are not as smart as you
This is not an insult; it is (or should be) a fact.

If you are offering a service to your customer then it is expected that you know more than them.

You are the expert in this situation.

They are going to do or say things that seem ridiculous to you.

These “stupid” things are going to be repeated over and over again with your other customers.

My message here is simple but very important; stay calm, stay patient and remember that they don’t have the luxury of being as smart as you.

4) Don’t get emotionally involved
Especially where support or disputes are involved.

It is bad for your health.

Deal with every problem and dispute in a calm, methodical and efficient way.

If your recipient is completely unreasonable then don’t break character. Keep your messages concise, polite, unemotional and to the point.

Customer:
“I have been waiting 8 months for you to add this feature and now you are telling me it won’t be in the next version?? What kind of joke operation are you running? Honestly, I have bought more tools than I can remember and this is the ABSOLUTE WORST I have come across. Your last version was utter crap and crashed my PC and if I hadn’t spent the money on your junk then I would have bought (COMPETITOR) a long time ago….. etc. etc.”

What you want to say:
“Your feature idea is absolutely ridiculous and wouldn’t benefit anyone except yourself. We are not here to be your personal developers. The only reason your PC crashed is because of the spyware you caught from porn sites. Go and use (COMPEITOR) instead and don’t come back crying to us when it isn’t as good”

What you should say:
“Hi (CUSTOMER),

I am really sorry to hear that you are not happy and I want to do everything I can to help you out.

Unfortunately we develop new features based on the popularity from all our other members and your feature request didn’t get enough votes. We completely respect your decision to use (COMPETITOR) if you choose but I would like to help you figure out how to achieve what you want to with our software.

What is it exactly that you would like to do? I will hopefully find a better way for you to do it or look at how your feature request can be modified to benefit everyone.

Kind Regards,
Support Dude”

Easier said than done?

Try it and you will sleep better at night.

5) You are not friends
Ok, you might become friends with your customers (I have) but that is a rare exception.

“How are you doing?”, “Did your wife get that job?”, “What about the football last night huh?”.. it seems like harmless chit-chat but it wastes time. It means that you and/or your customer will put off responding because you have somehow created an unwritten chit-chat rule that can’t be broken.

Again this might be part of your marketing strategy and general business attitude.. but be aware that it can easily come across as you being sleazy and fake just to get a sale.

6) Make sure your customers know what to expect
Set your stall out early in what your customer should expect in terms of response times.

In a support desk this is crucial. In some companies, 24 to 48 hours is normal. In others you can get under 1 hour responses. Your customers will have no idea what to expect and will get mad easily.

If your selling then remember that your response times at this stage need to be consistent. If your replying to your customer withing 20 before they hand over money, don’t drop it to 3 days after (unless they are made aware).

7) Stick to your rules
We need to set rules in how communication is made so that it is handled efficiently.

If your customer somehow finds you on Skype and asks you a simple question, should you respond?

No.

They will do it again next time. Then your Skype will be off, they won’t get a response and they will be mad.

Keep all communication through your official channels so you can optimize it, scale it, outsource it and automate it.

Conclusion

After over 4 years of supporting software and hosting customers, plus over 10 years of general supporting customers in the software industry, I realised (eventually) that communication makes a BIG difference.

Monitor it, change it, tweak it and make it better.

It will make your life easier, it will make you happier in general and it will make you more confident to teach this to others in your business.

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any other rules for communicating? Let me know below!

How do you know when your is software ready?

If you haven’t heard this advice before then you aren’t reading enough.

Release early, release often!

But this doesn’t tell give you the real picture…

When I first started out creating software I was scared.

I was scared that something would break, data would be lost and that my reputation would be ruined.

My first software job was in a company who provided software to big retail companies. If our software went wrong they would lose a lot of money.

So quite rightly we had lots of procedures, testing environments and careful planning to make sure we minimized that risk.

After I left that job I took that attitude with me and kept it as a default.

I started creating websites for small businesses and I was using testing environments, version control and very careful planning.

But the amount I got paid wasn’t worth that effort.

When I created Fresh Store Builder Ispent months perfecting it and making ready to release to the public.

I hesitated and kept telling myself that it needed “one more feature”.. and eventually a good friend of mine convinced me to just release it.

It was an overnight success and I made more sales than I could have imagined.

So what does early mean to your project?

You should be aiming for the minimum amount of development to achieve your goal.

This is different for every piece of software.

Is this a brand new idea that nobody else is really doing? Get it out ASAP and don’t worry if there are a few minor bugs. People will use it and you need to get yourself established.

Are you competing with an established solution? Get 2 or 3 features in it that your competitor isn’t doing and get it out there.

Every single day that your software is not on the market you are losing potential sales.

BUT if you release buggy and poorly created software you will start with a bad reputation that is hard to fix.

So how do you know when your software is ready to release?

When you have done the minimum required to achieve your goals.

Why being an affiliate is a balancing act

First.. let us start at the beginning.

What is an affiliate?

An affiliate is somebody who recommends you a product and takes a commission (or reward) when you purchase it.

An affiliate is like an online version of a salesman.

Just like a salesman, affiliates are sometimes treated with suspicion and contempt.

Rightly so.

Many affiliates, just like many salesmen, will do everything they can to push a sale. That means being dishonest, being pushy and betraying the trust of their audience.

But…

Some affiliates, just like some salesmen, are extremely successful. They are experts at helping their audience, giving them the right information, engaging them properly and supporting them after purchase.

Don’t get me wrong.. becoming a successful affiliate requires that you know how to be persuasive, how to maximize sales from every customer and know how to turn someone who is vaguely interested into an enthusiastic buyer.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be dishonest and you can still keep two strong principles at heart:

  1. Promote products you believe in
  2. Make sure your customers are happy

What kind of affiliate are you?

What kind of affiliate do you want to be?

Where shall we start? At the beginning of course…

I am starting this blog with a very simple but very important lesson.

Start now.

Do something.

You can spend weeks, months and years of your life planning for an idea.

Don’t get me wrong; planning is very important (we will look at that in another post).

But what is even more important is that you take action. Take action now, take action tomorrow and keep taking action until you are successful.

How many times have you heard people say that they had the idea first?

I had the idea for Facebook before it even existed!

The truth is that people have ideas all day, every day. Ideas are cheap. Ideas are fun. Ideas are exciting.

Ideas that turn into reality are few and far between. But why?

As soon as we sit down to start working on our idea, we realise how much hard work it is going to be.

That initial excitement of the idea will get you started and it might even get you over the first hurdle.

But you need a real drive to get you further. You need a determination that cannot be knocked. You need to want it more than you want to sleep.

In the future I am going to look at when and how to give up (because sometimes giving up is the right thing to do).

I have given up on countless ideas and will give up on even more in the future.

But remember.. even if you give up on your idea you will have learned the lessons you need to get you to that next step.

Don’t kill your enthusiasm with planning and don’t fear failure.

Get started on your idea.

Today.