Author, investor, and podcaster Tim Ferriss has become the premiere “life-hacker” since publishing his hit book “The 4-Hour Workweek” in 2007.
Since then, he’s spent his career interviewing and training with world-class performers across a wide variety of industries to determine the skills and habits he can then test on himself and share with his audience.
Since he asks each of his podcast guests about their morning routine, he decided to create an episode highlighting his own. One of the habits he fits into nearly every morning is a five-minute journal exercise.
“It’s easy to become obsessed with pushing the ball forward as a Type-A personality and end up a perfectionist who is always future-focused,” he says. “The five-minute journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person. That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person — which is not something that comes naturally to me.”
There are two journal formats that Ferriss alternates between; he never does both on the same morning.
The first is the aptly titled “Five Minute Journal.” It’s a journal you can order online that is outfitted with inspirational quotes and a series of questions, half for the morning and half for the night. Here’s an example page from the company’s site:
The Five Minute Journal
Ferriss says he finds the balance between acceptance of the past and planning for the future creates a happy medium that allows him to focus on the present.
There is also the more free-form “Morning Pages” method developed by “The Artist’s Way” author Julia Cameron. Using this approach, you spend five minutes expressing your current mood and then laying out your anxieties on the page.
As Cameron writes, “Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.”
In a blog post from earlier this year, Ferriss said, “Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull.”
Here’s an example of one of Ferriss’ journals using the Morning Pages method:
Ferriss says he finds the quick journaling exercise, regardless of format, to be liberating and calming.
“I think a lot of my drive comes from constant dissatisfaction,” he says. “So this is very helpful medicine.”
You can listen to Ferriss explain the other habits he likes to do in the morning, from preparing a certain kind of tea to stretching out his spine, in the podcast episode, available on his websiteor iTunes.
Author: Richard Feloni
Richard covers management strategy and entrepreneurship for Business Insider. Richard joined BI in October 2013 and initially covered the advertising industry. He has written for publications in Boston and produced videos for The Wall Street Journal. Richard is an alumnus of Boston College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.