Do you ever feel like a squirrel running from branch to branch, up and down trees, on the ground with no real direction? Wouldn't you rather be a lioness - focused, determined and ready for action? eWN Podcast Network Host of "Biz Life Simplified," Nancy Hagan gives you 6 keys to create an effective and productive day, so your business can be more profitable. 

#1: Make Your Bed!

Turns out your mother was right! Making your bed in the morning before you begin taking care of business is the first step to an effective day. I added this #1 key recently after reading an excellent brief book by a retired Navy Seal trainer, Admiral William H. McRaven, entitled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World. It made me realize that making the bed is not a “given” for everyone, but it makes a big difference in your productivity. Like many of you, this is something I have always done without giving it a lot of thought.  I just know I don’t feel right without doing it — like going around with uncombed hair or ragged underwear all day. Start the day doing something well that you can be proud of, and you’re off to a good start.

It’s your first WIN of the day, and helps get your mind in order and feeling confident as well. You have the discipline to do this small job and make your world a better place. You feel in control, productive and at the end of the day you are reminded of the order and accomplishment in your life. 



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#2: Prepare Your Mindset

Make time for mental preparation that enables you to be at your best. Instead of getting up and rushing to work, allow time (even 5-15 minutes will make a big difference) to read something to inspire and uplift you, help you feel centered and well-grounded. You might like to write your goals for the day, or favorite thoughts. Many people start the day with prayer or meditation.

It's well worth getting up a few minutes earlier to ensure the best quality for your day. Replace rushed and frenzied feelings with calm, constructive thoughts. Build your day the way you would like it to be, instead of just reacting to whatever happens. A good mindset is vital to a good day. 

#3: Identify Your Top Priorities

Write down the top 3 things you need to do. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much. Number them in order of importance and you will have prioritized your work. Focus on the first one until you have finished it or made significant progress. (See #4 Focus below). Take a break, then do the same with the second one, and so on. If you do your top 1, 2 or 3 consider the day a success!

This approach is much less distracting than looking at a big list. It makes it easier to stay focused on one thing at a time. We’ll talk more about focus in Key #4.

#4: Block Out Time

Waiting until you “have time” to get things done? Are you worrying about to-do’s, because you don’t know when you can get to them? Are too many things crowding out what’s most important?
That’s where blocks of time come in. You may need a Reality Check!  We must “make time” for the important things. It gives us peace of mind, knowing there is time set aside to do what’s needed.

You can use a spreadsheet or go to (For complete information, read my article, “Design Your Day: Optimize Your Time, Energy and Results” featured in the book Jump-Start Your Success with Brian Tracy. Fill in your essentials, like sleep, commuting, work,family, personal routines, etc. Carve out prime time (your best energy & environment) to work on your highest priorities that will carry your life and business forward, such as  Focus Time in Key #5.

Allow extra time as things often take longer than we expect, because sometimes the unexpected happens, and so you won’t feel rushed. Build in things you want to do for yourself and others things that refresh you. Even though we don’t always follow the plan exactly, the planning pays off in actually saving time and getting more done.

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#5: Focus

One of the top frustrations I hear about is interruptions. But they’re not always from other people, are they? Research shows that we interrupt ourselves most often. We multitask, we get distracted, we think about something other than what we are working on, we think of things we need to do, and on and on.

If we really want to be productive, we need to focus. Studies show that multitasking is actually a time-sucker. It takes longer to complete tasks, because we are shifting our attention back and forth. We must shut out the world to do high-priority work. We can make huge progress in less than an hour by focusing on one task. Plus, it reduces those unnecessary feelings of guilt and stress!

So ignore email, let the phone go to voicemail, close the door or go to another room. Keep pen and paper nearby to capture distracting thoughts, and set a timer. Park yourself in that chair and FOCUS for 25 or 50 minutes on the most important thing that will move your life and/or business forward. Take a 5 or 10 minute break and repeat. Do this as early as you can each day and you will reap the rewards.

#6: Don't Let the Email Monster Eat the Heart of Your Day!

Studies and first-hand reports show huge productivity gains when email is put in its place - later in the day. (And for goodness sake, turn off the dinger!) Start with your prime focus time, and do what is really important to move your business and your life forward.

If you are very disciplined, you may take a quick peek to see if there is anything that is a day-changer (such as the time of an appointment), even though time sensitive information is better delivered by phone than email. But that is dangerous territory, because it is so easy to get sucked into email. Set a timer for 5 minutes to "wake" you out of the email zone.

Since I have a home office, I have about a 10 minute window of time before breakfast when I check email and dash off a few quick replies. But that is a contained, limited period of time before my regular office hours begin. Beware the email monster - don't let it eat the heart of your day! Julie Morgenstern, an organizing and productivity consultant for Oprah (and a personal mentor of mine), wrote a book entitled Never Check E-mail in the Morning. We should all take that seriously and be wise.

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In Summary...

1-Make your bed

2-Prepare your mindset

3-Identify your top priorities

4-Block out time


6-Don’t let the email monster eat the heart of your day! 

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Author, Nancy Hagan

Nancy Hagan is a certified organizing and productivity Executive Coach through Xavier University. In addition to coaching and organizing services, Nancy also offers workshops that help individuals and entire teams gain insight and clarity on productivity issues. All of Nancy's services provide critical components to “freeing you to do what you do best!”


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