by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks

Small business owners and employees are often some of the busiest people in our economy. With that in mind, here are some productivity tips recommended (in some form or another) by many of today’s productivity gurus.

Don’t keep your to do list in your head

Keeping your to do list in your head, in any amount, means you will be thinking and worrying about it (even if only subconsciously) when you are doing something else or just trying to relax. Make a to do list for all the different projects you are working on, and take the time to empty your head of all that needs to be done for them. You should also have to do lists for calls, things to buy, errands, topics to discuss with others, lingering questions etc. Clear your mind of all to-dos at least once a week. Train yourself to jot down to-dos that come up in the appropriate place, instead of trying to keep them in your head.

Examine short and long term goals weekly

What are your short term and long term goals and how can you measure if you are getting there? In today’s hyper-speed world, it can be easy to loose track of the bigger picture. Most productivity experts recommend taking a weekly inventory of where you are, evaluating where you want to be and adjusting priorities if necessary. Here is a guide for examining your immediate actions through your long term goals.

• What are your current actions? This is essentially your to do list. What has been completed? What needs to be added? What needs to be scheduled?
• What are your current projects? How is each project progressing? What can be done to make the progress better?
• What are your areas of responsibility? These could be areas like: administrative support, staff development, market research etc. Reviewing your areas of responsibility gives a better, bigger picture for examining your projects and actions.
• What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish or experience in one to two years? What might you need to adjust to get there?
• What is your five year vision? What decisions might you need to make to get there? What might you need to put in motion to make the vision a more achievable reality?

Conquer your inbox

• Set aside time(s) in a day to process email, dealing with email in small chunks throughout the day is bad. It will take some discipline and possibly some time for you and your co-workers to adjust, but it is worth the effort.
• If you do have a drop everything email, go ahead and deal with that email, but only with that email. The difficult part is not be controlled by messages that aren’t really urgent.
• If you can answer an email or complete a task associated with an email in less than five minutes, do it when you open the email.
• Divide emails you can’t address in five minutes into categories. Here are some common categories: action to be taken today, action to be taken later (then schedule a time), action to be taken someday (store in its’ own specific file), action to be delegated, reference materials and trash.

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