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how to make the most of your day

I talk about making plans and setting goals a lot. I am a firm believer that we must know exactly what we want so that we are able to properly measure our progress. Recently, I noticed that when I would speak to my friends about their goals or give my input, I always speak about the future. “Well this is where you should plan to be in six months.” “Where do you see this going in two years?” “Do you have a long term goal?” And while there is nothing wrong with these questions, I realized that I didn’t speak enough about the present. I was always pushing people to look beyond what they could see when I should have put just as much emphasis on embracing TODAY.

The reality is our lives are just a collection of single days. In the end, the way we are remembered is determined by how we choose to spend each day. Admittedly, I was a person that partook in the glorification of “busy”. I complained about how there was so much to do but I found that there were days where I couldn’t tell you exactly what made me so busy.

Now I realize that there were too many times where I filled up my day planning for the NEXT day. In the end, that means that I just “survived” the day, I didn’t fully live it. That is now something that I am working on. As cliché as it may sound to you, each day is a very important gift and too often we take that for granted. We have to embrace each day with zeal and a commitment to discover the potential that it holds. We have to be intentional with how we live.

Now I have in no way found the perfect formula to do this but here are five simple steps that I have found helpful in making the most out of my day:

  1. Meditate or pray for 5-10 minutes – I think it is very important as soon as you wake you up to have a few minutes to yourself. Give thanks for seeing another day, pray for strength, grace and the ability to do the best work you can. Get yourself into the right frame of mind to conquer the day. Make sure you are centered and mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead.
  1. Set your top priorities – I carry a spiral journal with me everywhere I go. I write everything in there; appointments, grocery lists, ideas for blog posts etc. What I do with my day is heavily dependent on what I write in my journal. If it is not in my book, it is not happening. The act of writing something down on paper with a heavy felt pen makes something click for me, it helps me to remember. Now everyone won’t want to carry a book around with them and that is totally understandable. Utilize your phone. There are lots of note-taking apps that are available. You can email lists to yourself or even use that handy calendar. Mentally go over your day’s tasks and write them down. Writing these down with hold you accountable. It will make you more organized and you will be able to get a lot of things done because you will have a list.
  1. Disconnect from devices – Now I am addicted to my phone as much as anyone else. I don’t go anywhere without it and I used to be one of those people that as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, I reached for my phone. This was a major hindrance to my productivity and I have now forced myself to limit the time on my phone. That 30 minutes I spent scrolling through my Instagram timeline could have been spent drafting a new blog post. The 15-minute morning peruse of Twitter could have been extra time in the gym. Disconnect from the devices, allocates a specific amount of time that you will spend on your phone during your day and watch how your efficiency will approve. The energy and focus that we use to constantly stay up to date on social media and have meaningless midday conversations with friends could be put to much better use if we give it a try.
  1. Move Your Body – It is so important to stay active. As someone who begrudges working out, I can honestly tell you that I notice an improvement in my attitude when I take the time and exercise. Now this is not to say that I have a strict workout schedule because I don’t yet. But when I do exercise, I actually prefer to work out in the morning. Yes that means getting up an hour earlier than normal but it does make a difference. You don’t go into work as sluggish and irritated on Mondays when you get a good workout in.  Your mood shifts and the ideas tend to generate a bit quicker because you are energized. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
  1. Write down three things you are grateful for – Even with the most carefully laid out plans, sometimes you just have a bad day. Things go wrong, people irritate you and you still may feel like you didn’t do everything you needed to do. These feelings can bring down your mood and if you’re not careful, will carry on to the next day. In Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know For Sure, she mentions that she keeps a gratitude journal and I took a page out of her book and do something similar. Every night to ensure I go to sleep on a good note and with a light heart, I write down three things I am grateful for. It might seem like a very mundane thing to do to some of you but once you get into the habit of writing those things down, you notice a difference. Even when you feel as if nothing is going right, you must remember the good you have in your life. “Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy and bringing more of what you want into your life. Be grateful for what you already have and you will attract more good things.” The Secret

Too many of us are just trudging through the day, looking too much towards what’s next instead of trying to make the best out of the present. The goal is to THRIVE, each and every day. While these five tips may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things, I encourage you to try them. Remember that, “Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things.” – Booker T. Washington

Natalya Muncuff
Natalya Muncuff
Natalya is an Account Manager by day and writer by night. When she is not creating content, adding to her enormous book collection or stationery supply, she is somehow keeping track of 55 television shows. You can follow her rantings and occasional sparks of brilliance on Twitter @NatalyaMuncuff. She can be reached via email at nmuncuff@letsinc.org.

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