All posts by

4 Simple Tips For Successful Journaling

Why You Should Find The Time to Journal - And How To Make The Most Out Of Your Journaling Practice

4 Simple Tips For Successful Journaling

As a journaling practice advocate for many years, one of my long-time dreams came true last year. That's when Paper Boat Publishing came to life and published Today: Life guided journal.

It was exciting to see an idea turn into reality. It was even more exciting when I started seeing it in bookshops - online and in person. And, I was beyond thrilled when people started buying them and using them.

I love it when people see the benefits of journaling. It's great when people use journals to record memories, explore creativity, and brainstorm ideas.

I know I'm not alone in encouraging people to develop and maintain a journaling practice. There are many articles written on the benefits of journaling out there. One I came across recently is this Inc.com article, by Benjamin Hardy. Here, he lists 5 ways the practice of journal writing can improve your life -

  1. Journaling optimizes your creative potential.
  2. Journaling accelerates your ability to manifest your goals.
  3. Journaling generates clarity and congruence.
  4. Journaling clears your emotions.
  5. Journaling ingrains your learning.

There's also this article at Huffington Post that shares 10 benefits of journaling. And, PsychCentral supports journal writing's health benefits - including strengthening immune systems and stress relief.

So, yes, journaling has become more than just a "Dear Diary" practice. Many people journal to remember day-to-day lives or special travel memories. And, there are also those who uses journals as part of therapy, coaching, counselling, training, and education.

If you haven't started journaling yet, the tips below can help to get you going. If you've been keeping a journal for a while, the tips might help give you new ideas to revive or improve your journal writing practice.

Tip 1: Commit to a journaling schedule.

You don't have to write daily if your schedule doesn't allow it. But, if you're able to commit to a simple schedule, then you would see the benefits of journaling a lot more.

In Julia Cameron's classic book on creativity, The Artist's Way, she supports the notion of developing a journaling practice called "Morning Pages". The idea is to write three pages a day, first thing in the morning, to dump everything's that's on your mind. No edits, no re-reads, no stopping - until you get to the third and final page.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who can attest that the "Morning Pages" is an incredible journaling practice. But, you do need at least half an hour to an hour to do this. If you're able to make that time - then it's definitely one worth doing.

If such a schedule is too tight for you - try to come up with something that's more doable. Try doing just one page, for example. Or, commit to writing in your journal at least five minutes a day. You can do this either first thing in the morning or the last thing at night.

Writing daily lists under certain categories in your journal might be an option. There are also people who choose to write one sentence a day.

It doesn't matter what approach you take, as long as you commit to it and practice it. Show up on the page, no matter what.

Tip 2: Come prepared and open.

One of the most common concerns of people trying to journal is: "But I run out of things to write about!" Or, "Nothing interesting ever happens to me that's worth journaling about!"

This is when schedules help. Knowing you need to show up on the page no matter what can help to keep you going.

Being prepared is another approach that can prove helpful. Preparation may include having a list of journaling prompts and ideas. Or, having a collection of themes and helpful hints.

This is where guided journals like Today: Life can be useful. There are also many other guided journals that offer guidance and inspiration. Check your local library or the bookstores for some ideas.

Another way to stay inspired when journaling is by joining journaling communities and challenges. If you're interested, check out ShaiCoggins.com's new Journaling For Success Mini Challenge. It's a five-day journaling challenge that offers daily themes, prompts, and tips. The main theme covered in the daily themes is all about 'success'.  The challenge is free to join and you can complete it at any time.

Tip 3: Use your favourite journaling tools.

Part of the fun of journaling is using journal writing tools. These may be in the form of beautiful pens and notebooks or fancy apps and cool books.

My personal preference is a mix of analogue and digital tools. I use cheap $2 notebooks and beautiful Moleskin journals. I also use OneNote on my Surface Pro 3, my iPad, and my Windows phone. I also have a couple of journaling apps on my iPad, but I don't use them as much anymore.

And, yes, I have a growing collection of guided journals apart from Today: Life.

There was also a time when I actively used a web app called 750 Words.

Regardless of your preference, the important thing to remember is to choose the tools that would help you journal in the best possible way. And yes, there's no one way to do that!

Tip 4: Take the time to reflect.

To make the most out of your journaling practice, try to make time for reflections. Being able to reflect on the things that you've written about in your journal can be enlightening.

If you write daily, take the time to look at what you've written at the weekend. If you only write a few times a week, try to review once a month or once a quarter.

Notice patterns and themes in your journal writing. Do you find that you write more positive things or negative things? Do you focus on gratitude, opportunities, and happy memories? Or, are you more likely to write about difficult situations, problems, and challenging people? What does it make you feel reading back on some of your journal entries?

Reflecting on your journaling practice helps you to see any recurring ideas and observations. It can also help you to notice any progress or changes that occur over time.

On The S Squad Content Library, you'll find the Daily Notes PDF download. In the worksheet, you'll see five days' worth of short journaling on a page. There's also a box where you can summarise (or reflect on) the five days of journal writing.

This interactive PDF was designed with the Journaling For Success Mini Challenge in mind. But, you can use it in any other journaling practice. If you're logged in, you can download the PDF for free.

Journaling Quote

Your Turn

So, how about you? Do you keep a journal? Do you have a schedule? What are your favourite tools? What do you like about journaling?

If you don't keep a journal, would you consider starting one now? If not, what's your biggest obstacle in getting started with a journaling practice?

Share your thoughts, tips, and stories in the comments section.

Read More

How To Start Your Ideal Business

When asked what would be the most interesting topics for friends, colleagues, and readers of ShaiCoggins.com, one of the most requested topics was about starting one's ideal business. And, this got me thinking about the best way to share my business knowledge and experience with those who also dream to be their own boss.

How To Start Ideal Business

My Ideal Business(es) Story

As a serial entrepreneur, I've had my fair share of starting and running businesses. Four years ago, I started Vervely, a boutique digital media company that enabled me to work with some great companies, including Microsoft. Although the journey to this business was unexpected and had a couple of bumps along the way, it helped me to have the flexibility that I longed for, as well as a good amount of freedom and a six figure income.

The flexibility, freedom, and income I received from this business then enabled me to explore other businesses that I love -  my fledgling art and design business, as well as a small independent publishing business. These two other businesses do not bring me the same income as my main business, but to me, they all work well together. And, I have been learning a lot in the process. I can only hope to grow each one as best as I can.

Prior to these business ventures, I've started, run, and sold other businesses. Including a media start-up that gained a lot of attention and a multi-million venture capital funding from North America, a freelance writing and blogging business, a small press business, a workplace training, teaching, and tutorial business, a drinks stand, and many more. And yes, I owe my early business experiences, in part, to my parents. Growing up in a business-minded family, with parents who both owned businesses that I helped to manage, I became aware of the ins and outs of starting and running businesses from a very young age.

How Do You Start Your Own Ideal Business Story?

No matter what your business background might be (whether complete novice or some experience), you can start the path to building your own ideal business. And, I hope to develop content and resources to help you get on this path.

That's why as a result of the survey, I started developing materials for an e-course: "Authentic and Creative Abundance: Building a Business That Matters". I'm a long way off completion, as I have a number of other projects happening at the same time. But, I thought I'd chip away at this idea bit by bit, and share some insights along the way.

One of the first things I developed with this idea in mind is the "Ideal Business Worksheet". It's an interactive PDF where you can fill in a questionnaire to help you identify your ideal business and what you need to make it happen. You can then save and print the worksheet for your file.

The worksheet is available from The S Squad Library.

Below the image, I'll share with you a guide to starting your own ideal business, which can also serve as a guide to the worksheet.

Ideal Business Worksheet

1. Identify your ideal business. In order to start your ideal business, you need to define what it is. Different people would have different ideals, so you need to focus on what matters to you first.

If you're not sure how to articulate your business idea, try to complete this sentence: "I want to build a business that..." Or, "I would really love a business with..."

This is the start of identifying your ideal business. Don't worry if your business idea doesn't seem polished! This will evolve as you work on it.

2. Define your business focus. You can then define whether your business is product-focused or service-focused. If you're selling tangible items, then your business is product-focused. If you're trying to offer services like coaching, counselling or consulting, then you're more of a service-focused business. You can also have a combination of both, but it's good to know how much of your business products-orientated and how much is service-orientated.

3. Identify which industry your business belongs to. It can be in the arts, technology, sports, or other types of industry. Knowing your main industry would help you to hone-in on your market or your target audience.

4. Describe your industry experience. Knowing how much experience you have in the industry will help you to identify your strengths or your challenges. Even if you don't have direct experience in the industry that you're trying to break into, consider all your experiences and see how it relates to your business idea.

5. Know your why. It's always a good idea to know why you wish to do what you do. It would help you to identify your motivation and inspiration, which can be key to your business mission.

6. Understand the problem that you're trying to solve. While many businesses may be developed from a personal interest, business ideas should be more than just serve the business owner's needs. Every good business idea should solve a problem for its target audience. If you want to sell art, for example, you need to have a reason that's more than just "Sell my creations." The problem you may be trying to solve with your art business could be: "To provide affordable art that makes people feel happy." Or, it could be: "To offer fine art to high end, passionate collectors of realistic pieces." Those two problems would lead you to different types of business approaches even though both are ultimately trying to sell art.

7. Consider various sources of income. Remember that old adage of "Never put all your eggs in one basket."? It's definitely very much applicable to businesses. Regardless of the type of business you want to build, consider what would be your main offerings. If you're building a coaching business, what type of offers would you have? Would you just have one-on-one coaching? Would you add digital coaching? How about group coaching? Or, how about self-paced coaching products or e-courses?  It's always good to have at least 2-3 offers to start off with, and see how you wish to grow from there.

8. Plan and source your offers. If you already have your offers in mind, flesh them out. If you don't have them available yet, consider how you're going to source or create them. Do you need to purchase external products and services? Do you need to put together packages and plans?

9. Come up with a quick action list! With some aspects of your business idea in mind, list 3 to 5 things that you can do quickly to make your ideal business happen. Make sure those action items are not huge items. Avoid listing things that are too big to do, as big TO DOs could get you stuck. Consider listing things that you can do within 5 to 15 minutes.

While there may be a lot of steps to get to your ideal business, being able to clarify some of your ideas on paper (or electronic files!) would be a great first step. I wish you all the best with it!

And, if you want to work with me directly on making your ideal business happen, consider hiring me as your digital coach.

Read More

5 Things People Want To Learn (Initial Insights from Survey)

Getting the recent survey out was an eye opener for me in more ways than one. And, I'm very grateful to all those who took the time to respond. It's still ongoing, but already, I have learnt a lot. The survey will be up until Friday, so please do give it a go, if you haven't done so yet.

Anyway, before I close the survey, I thought I'd share some of the things that people have shared so far, with some insights that I've gathered based on the responses. And, what I hope to be able to do about it all. I'll also share some key findings later, after the survey ends.

In any case, here are some things I've learnt so far -

5 Things People Want To Learn

People need some help to get things done.

Close to 60% of the participants have identified "Turning ideas into action" as one of their top topics that they want to learn more about. A few people have shared more information in the text box provided for. And, I hear 'ya! In fact, this is a topic that's very close to my heart.

We can be abundant with ideas, but remain time poor, so implementation of such ideas can be a bit daunting. Not to mention, needing to battle those nasty blocks that we often encounter along the way. That's why I'm so keen to create content that would provide ways to address this topic. I hope to share processes that I've learnt and developed, as this is a topic that's recurring.

No matter how experienced and professional we might be in many aspects of our lives, there are certain situations where no amount of experience and knowledge can propel us forward. Sometimes, we need extra guidance to move from A to B to C... all the way to whatever letter of the alphabet we need to get to. 

People are looking for ways to create products in order to come up with other sources of income.

Around 62% of the respondents have said so, so far. Since some of the participants on this survey were from a product creation workshop that I'm taking, this didn't come as a complete surprise. What I didn't expect was that many people from within my regular circles are also thinking about this. It wasn't in my list of ideas for an ecourse/online workshop/ebook/content to create, so this has given me a lot of juice for content creation.

People are thinking of building meaningful businesses and/or making money online.

Combined, it would be close to 80% of the respondents' answers were looking to learn more about these topics. As a lifelong serial entrepreneur, I know I have a lot to say about these topics. In fact, I started Just Make Money Online many years ago because I used to keep getting so many questions about how I've managed to make a living off the web. But, with the influx of Internet marketers (both good ones and dodgy ones, I must say), I became uncertain about whether or not I have more to say than what everyone else was already saying.

But now, I remembered: Even though there may be many other people talking about the same thing, we all are able to say things in different ways that will appeal to different kind of people. I only need to concern myself with those who want to approach business (both online and otherwise) the way I would like to.

Some people want to make money in any way they can. Others just want to do so by following their passions. I'm in the camp of wishing to create businesses that resonate with my interests, but also with the view of being ethical and practical. If people wish to be in the same camp, then I'm more than happy to be camp facilitator.

People are looking for guidance on how to use social media professionally.

With all the articles and guides out there, I thought this topic has been 'done to death'. That's why I was surprised to see this as one of the top favourite topics in the survey, with well over 70% combined responses to two social media-related ideas that I have shared.

With social media being the main offering of my main business, I know I should be overjoyed. But admittedly, when I began this journey of seeking content to develop that people would love to know more about from me, I didn't expect social media to come up. Yes, even though it's my 'day job' and it's the area where I am most known in, I didn't think that people within my circles (outside of my Vervely work) would be interested in learning more about this topic. That's why I don't often talk about it here at ShaiCoggins.com. That's why this survey is helping me to re-think my approach on this matter.

With the realisation that people do want to learn more about social media use in a professional and more structured manner, I am keen to pull together as much information as I can based on 15+ years of using social media to sell products and services, find jobs and clients, connect with communities, expand my networks, develop my expertise, and more.

Learning Quote

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. - A.J. D'Angelo Click To Tweet

People wish to develop creative practices that work with their lifestyles.

In spite of all our busy-ness in day-to-day lives, many of us long to practice creativity - be it developing a sketchbook practice, a journaling practice, a writing practice, or learning how to use mobile phones for art-making. A combined response of 80%+ were directed towards wishing to learn more about creative practices.

Those who mentioned creativity as something that they wish to learn more about, a few also mentioned that part of the challenge is not knowing how to start or maintain such a practice. I've already started addressing these concerns here at ShaiCoggins.com and through my work in publishing. However, as some of the participants pointed out, there is a need to provide a more structured approach into developing creative practices. I'm determined to figure out a way to do just that.

So, the big question now is: With all of these things that people wish to learn more about, which one should I focus on first?

That's what I hope the survey will help to answer. So, if you haven't had the chance to give your say yet, please do so. I'd really appreciate it. You'd only need 5-10 minutes to complete the survey. And, apart from the gift offers I have, I hope to be able to create content that would help YOU the most in return.

Take the survey now.

Read More

Need Your Input: Survey + Free Gift Choice

It has been a really long time since I last did a survey. But, even though I felt a bit rusty setting it all up, I'm glad I finally did it.

But, a survey is not a proper survey without respondents. So, please, please spare 5-10 minutes to complete this ShaiCoggins.com Survey 2016. I'd really appreciate it!

As a thank you, I'd like to offer a gift to all respondents.

There are two gift choices:

  • Free Focus Planner Printable (see more in the photo below)
  • Discount Coupon for Upcoming Ecourse/Ebook

Once you complete the survey, you can choose your free gift and I will send it to you.

All respondents will also be entered into a draw to win one (1) of three (3) Free Coaching via Coach.Me slots (2-4 weeks' worth of coaching per slot). The three winners will be chosen once the survey is concluded.


The Focus Planner is a 2-page printable that enables you to plan and reflect on your week. It will come as a PDF and you can print as many copies as you like for PERSONAL USE only. It is available in A4 size (or you can adjust in your printer). More on this planner later!

What is the survey all about?

It's mostly information gathering about your interests and challenges, so that I'm able to plan for better content here on the blog and elsewhere.

With VALUE being my Word of the Year, my constant question to myself is: "Am I providing value in this place/situation?" or "What value am I bringing to this job/project/person?"

That's why part of my goal this year is to find ways to provide as much as value as I am able to in the things that I do, including this blog. And, in order to provide that value, I'd love to learn about what YOU would find valuable in what I can offer.

There are only 10 questions. Mostly multiple choice. Very simple. Shouldn't take longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.

Hope you find the time to give it a go! I look forward to hearing from you.

The survey will be limited to 100 respondents only and/or until next Friday, 17th June 2016 (whichever comes first).

Take The Survey Now. 

Read More

What’s In Your Bedside Studio?

Share Your Bedside Art Studio

What's In Your Bedside Studio?

"It's so good that you have an art studio in your bedside table drawer, Mum!"

When my 9-year-old daughter pointed this out to me a few days ago, I thought that it was a cool way to look at my set-up. A bedside art studio!

Mind you, my bedside table drawer hasn't always been filled with art materials. In the past, I've always kept pens and pencils there for writing, sketching, and drawing. But, over the last few months, I've slowly been adding bits and pieces in my drawer. And now, I have a mini art studio that I can use whenever I get the urge to create before bedtime.

Why set up a bedside art studio?

Yes, I know some people would probably be horrified at this idea. Keeping bedrooms strictly for bedroom-related activities is something that many people support.

But, to me, having a mini art studio within reach is akin to having a television or a selection of books in the bedroom. They're never meant to take over the main bedroom activities. They're just a good way to spend a few minutes winding down from a busy day. (Side note: I don't usually watch TV at bedtime! Prefer reading, writing, or art-making.)

Anyway, the main reason I started adding art materials in my bedside drawer is that I have often found myself stuck with my daily art practice. With a full day of work, chores, and family time, I end up needing to take my kids to bed without getting the time to do any art.

Since I'm often too tired to go back to my home office/studio at the end of the day, I just end up working with whatever I've got on hand in my bedroom. And, while anyone can make art just using pens and pencils, I find that working with different materials help to inspire me.  So, I started adding some of my favourite materials.

What's in the bedside art studio?

To give you an idea, here's a photo of my bedside table drawer and its contents (especially cleaned and re-organised for this photo!) -

My Bedside Studio

  • Pencils - Again, another staple. I usually have a couple of mechanical pencils (Size 1.3 and 0.5), as well as an assortment of pencils (HB is standard, but I try to add different types too). I'd add a woodless graphite pencil and a pencil sharpener with a case here too, when I get the chance.
  • Water brush pens - Love, love, love water brush pens! Don't know if I could cope with daily art and on-the-go sketching without them. Most brands I've tried seem to work well enough. But, admittedly, I'm partial to Pentel Aquash Brush Pens. Very easy to refill, maintain, and use.
  • A box of tissues - I always keep one anyway, even before I had this bedside art studio. Now, I'm finding my tissues useful for cleaning water brush pens, dabbing pieces, and more.
  • Crayons - Another one of my favourites! Didn't really think crayons would become an art-making staple for me. But, over the last few months, I've fallen in love with crayons again. For regular waxy crayons, I don't think you can't go wrong with Crayola. But, my absolute favourite crayons are Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Watersoluble Crayons. I bought the basic 10-piece set to start off with because they're a bit pricey. Since then, I've purchased a 30-piece set, which is now in my portable art studio bag.
  • Sketchbooks - I'm not a one-sketchbook-at-a-time artist. I tend to have several in one go. Some are handmade from watercolour papers. Some are the cheap visual art diary types you can get easily from any newsagent, dollar shop, or department store. I love the cheapies because I get fearless with them. I don't mind messing them up. But, there are days I do feel the need to work on some nicer paper. Some favourites include: Strathmore Visual Journal (Watercolour or Mixed Media, 140 lb), Moleskine Watercolour Journal, and Strathmore Gray Tone.

I also keep bulldog clips (for keeping sketchbook pages open or holding pieces of paper together) in my bedside studio. I also have erasers (a regular rubber eraser and a putty eraser). And, while I don't keep them in the drawer, I try to have access to sticky tape and a pair of scissors.

What about you? Do you make art in bed? If you do, what kind of art materials do you keep at your bedside?

Read More