Some MINI rev counters do have the ideal gear number illuminate when you should change gear for the best performance and economy, maybe yours needs setting up?
Smoothness comes with practice, perhaps you should go out with someone who already drives a manual change and let them give you a few tips and a demonstration??
I thought you were going to say your car came with a French Maid because that would be ideal
On line copies of the manuals can be found here: manuals | library of motoring - An online collection of MINI information
Owner's Manual (2009 Clubman)