The ability to make the most out of your day is essential as an entrepreneur. With your runway and money left in the bank account always in the back of your mind, productivity and the ability to improve are two subjects you need to master.

The best way to achieve this is by keeping a journal and writing about a couple of specific topics, which we will cover below. Writing in this journal will take just five minutes out of your morning and only requires a pen and paper and a little bit of focus to do every day.

Make sure you perform the exercises right when you wake up before starting your day. Make a habit of doing this and you'll notice your performance as an individual and a leader in your business improve dramatically after a few short weeks.

1. Three things you are grateful for every day

There are countless books dedicated to happiness and how to find it. It perplexes many of us when world-class athletes, billionaires, and actors suffer from depression. The argument could even be made that the more famous and rich people are, the higher their chance of being depressed. With a majority of people believing money and fame will make them happy, when in fact those traits may increase unhappiness, how does one find true happiness?

The answer lies in gratitude. How can people in poorer countries be happier than Americans? It's because they appreciate what they have more. David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, talks about this in a famous blog post titled "The Day I Became a Millionaire." Essentially, Hansson realized he was happier on his journey to becoming a millionaire than actually being one. This opened his eyes for being grateful for things he had that made him happy before making all the money he's made.

This is why every morning you should write down three things you are grateful for. Starting the day by showing gratitude for what you might take for granted will make you a happier and more appreciative person. Being happier will make you more productive, make your team like you more, and will help you become a better leader professionally and personally.

2. What would make today great?

Setting to-do lists can quickly become ineffective and unproductive. At the beginning of the day, we list 50 things only to end the night with less than half the things on our list completed. Worse than that, many times the tasks we complete aren't very important in the first place.

Instead, every morning write down three things that would make the day great. This could include going to the gym, filling out that company report, or taking your wife on a date. Focus on the things that will be in your control. By focusing on just the three things will make the day great, you give yourself a much higher chance of feeling accomplished by the time you go to bed. When we think about it, it usually is only one or two tasks that once completed make us feel that the day was productive. Find those tasks first thing in the morning, and solely focus on getting them done to optimize your happiness for the next day.

Published on: Nov 30, 2015