5 Simple Tactics to Keep You Organized and on Task Every Day Set up a routine and fly through the more mundane tasks so you can focus your attention on mission-critical endeavors.

By Leslie Barber

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ever get to 3 p.m. only to realize that you haven't crossed off a single thing on your to-do list? Welcome to the life of a small business owner.

It's common to feel like you're playing defense. How can you switch things around to play offense? Try these five simple but effective ways to manage your time and make some forward progress for your business:

Related: How to Become More of a Morning Person (Infographic)

1. Fuel your passion early and often.

You probably started your business with a passion for your craft. But the very business of running a business can get in the way.

Bring the skip back into your step every day by reminding yourself first thing why you started your business. It will make getting through the to-do list easier.

2. Begin each day with a to-do list.

I used to love writing my to-do list each day before I left the office. It was my attempt to leave the office before I went home. I would schedule the most important items in my online calendar so I would complete them first.

One study showed that those who are morning people tend to be more effective working in the morning. Each day so many things can come up to derail productivity. I like to tackle the toughest chores first.

Another trick is to enter tasks into your online calendar so that it will push alerts to you. Each morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee and take 5 minutes to review the must-dos.

Don't overload the to-do list. Make the list of tasks achievable. Remember that other things will come up. So create a list of things is practical. And give yourself a high five when you cross things off.

Related: How to Say No to the Employee Who Interrupts

3. Find social-media shortcuts.

Like visiting the old office watercooler, engaging in social media activity can be a tempting vortex of distraction, stealing time and productivity. To stay on task, schedule all posts for the week at once.

Thanks to a number of social-media management tools, like HootSuite, SproutSocial or Social Oomph, it's possible to quickly upload and manage company posts, tweets, pins, likes and +1s -- all in one place.

Your social-media voice should never sound automated, though. Savvy users will notice this immediately. Schedule real-time comments on anything that's suddenly trending or newsworthy to ensure genuine engagement with your audience.

4. Define a specific window to check email.

Checking email can become one of the biggest black holes of the workday. Don't let this task totally sap your productivity. Set a specific time for reading and returning emails. After tackling your email communications, move on to the rest of your daily tasks and goals. Challenge yourself to check email only twice a day, say, early morning and the end of day.

You will be surprised by how much you can get done between email check-ins. And if phone calls are more cumbersome for you than email, try this: Designate a time to return calls. Encourage customers and colleagues to schedule their calls with you.

5. Run focused meetings that adhere to ground rules.

Meetings can be a major time sink. And for small businesses, they can be very expensive in terms of time and labor. Plan well for each meeting. Ensure that you have a purpose and a strong sense for what will make a meeting successful. Do you need feedback from your team or would an email better serve your needs? A meeting is a great way to foster two-way communication like brainstorming or problem solving.

Next, establish a clear structure for the meeting by creating an agenda. Designate a notetaker and a timekeeper to help that people stay on track. Finally, ensure that attendees arrive prepared by arranging for whatever background info or homework assignments are necessary.

While these suggestions may seem like very simple ideas, the hard part is executing them since so many things happen unexpectedly in the daily life of a small-business owner. It takes discipline to move from defense to offense. Some say it takes 21 days to create a habit. You owe it to yourself to get in front of the eight ball. It'll help your business grow and ensure that you don't burn out.

Related: How to Stop the Time Suck of Customer Relationships

Wavy Line
Leslie Barber

Small Business Engagement Officer, QuickBooks

Leslie Barber advocates for small business success as a small business engagement officer for Intuit's QuickBooks in Mountain View, Calif. She is a co-owner and co-founder of NutraBella, the maker of Bellybar.

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

Oscar Mayer Is Changing the Name of Its Iconic Wienermobile

The company is slamming the brakes on its wiener on wheels and rolling out a new meaty ride.

Health & Wellness

Sleep Better, Snore Less, and Stay Cool with This Tech-Packed Pillow, Now $49.99

Let technology help you sleep better with this 8-in-1 cooling pillow.

Business News

'All Hell Is Going to Break Loose': Barbara Corcoran Issues Warning About Real Estate Market, Interest Rates

The "Shark Tank" star appeared on FOX Business' "The Claman Countdown" this week.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.