FANNING: Three easy steps to have your most productive day ever

By Ben Fanning, contributing editor  |  I used to start every day with checking email… then I’d respond based upon whatever was there.


I often felt out of control like I spent my day running from one fire to the next.  Then one Monday something happened that led to my most productive day ever…

…the email server was down… no sending or receiving emails. (This was before the advent of Blackberries and iPhones, so no checking your emails remotely.)

When you’re forced to become proactive

My team and I were forced to go from being reactive – having to put all those fires as they pop up – to being proactive.

We pulled out the important projects that had been on the back burner and started working on them.  We got so much done by the time the email server was back in the afternoon; we didn’t care about the email backlog.

You see, we had a game plan in place, and everyone’s mood improved.  We felt more on top of our game for the whole week and that ended up being our most productive Monday ever.

The power of being proactive … even just a little bit

This story illustrates the power of making the shift from reactive to proactive.

Reactive is “acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it”.  This generates that overwhelming feeling you get from running in different directions and not getting the important stuff done.

While it may not be realistic to spend every minute proactively, when you add just a little bit of proactivity or “control to a situation by making things happen”, it has big benefits.

  • Calmness -it’s calming to know that you’ve tackled or are working on priorities
  • Efficiency– you build efficiency by single tasking instead of switching quickly from one urgent matter to the next… never quite getting anything done to completion
  • Motivation – it’s motivating to know there’s window of time that you control what you work on even if you’re back in reactive mode later in the day
  • Momentum – momentum is created when something has moved and continues to generate force. When you proactively take control of an important task, it generates positive momentum for what’s next in your day

3 steps to create your most productive Monday ever

Step #1:  Brain dump on Friday

What do you need to do the following week? Flush it out of your head and on paper. Feels so good!

Step #2:  Determine the first five physical actions you’ll take on Monday morning

Your physical actions could be something like call a specific person or research something you need for an important project.

Then take this “thinking” or “deciding” of what you’ll do first when you arrive in the office on Monday morning and just do them! You can amp it up even more by performing your actions before checking your email.

Don’t let anything get between you and getting those first five proactive steps done…

Step #3:  Notice and adjust

Notice the difference this makes to your day and your week. If it works, make it part of your everyday routine.

P.S.:  Download Ben’s free guide here: The 10-minute Strategy to Reduce Your Everyday Stress.  In it you’ll discover:

  • The 3-step process to alleviate your everyday stress.
  • Why this process can stop the racing thoughts, help you sleep better, and even stay more organized.
  • A fun Friday experiment so you have a better weekend and a more motivated Monday.

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