Productivity Improvement for Entrepreneurs


You can improve your productivity and take your business to the next level by adopting better business habits. These are fundamental rules that every Entrepreneur can implement. Follow these seven business rules to get to where you want to be.

Start your business day the night before.

After the dinner dishes are done plan your next business day. Write an old-fashioned “to-do” list, include everything you need to accomplish the next day. This brain dump will also help you sleep better tonight and tomorrow you will get a great sense of accomplishment as you cross off each item on your list.

Set an alarm clock.

Don’t think that since you work for yourself, you don’t need a schedule. In order to improve productivity, you need to be on a schedule and control the start of your day.

Never work in your pajamas.

Getting dressed will help with your mindset for the whole day. It will subconsciously show respect for you, your clients and your business. You will feel more confident and ready for action.

Do not schedule meetings before noon.

If you are at your best in the morning keep that time to get the most important things done. A concentrated effort in the morning will set you up to accomplish more than ever before.

Take a mid-day break.

You will improve your afternoon job performance with some exercise or relaxation in the middle of the day. You will come back to work with improved mental sharpness and more creativity.

Have lunch with a mentor or colleague once a week.

Step outside of your busy world and get some feedback on ideas. Taking the time for a relaxing lunch with someone you admire and can relate to will make a huge difference in how you look at your business.

Reconcile your “to-do” list.

At the end of your workday compare what you had planned to accomplish and what you actually got done. Did you have a good day? If you completed 75% of your list, you succeeded. However, if you fell below that number make some changes to gain better control of your business and be more productive.

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Diane N Quintana on May 24, 2021 at 8:48 am

    These are terrific tips, Janet. I do many of them. I really like the idea of scheduling lunch or coffee with a mentor or colleague once a week. And, while I always review my ‘to-do’ list at the end of the day, I like the way you expressed the task. Reconciling the list – spending a little time with it and reviewing the accomplishments as well as the tasks yet to be done. Thank you for these great ideas!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      I’d love to have the time for lunch each week with a mentor or friend. I try, but sometimes an email and phone have to do.

  2. Seana Turner on May 24, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I love that point about “reconciling your to-do” list. This is very important. I physically move whatever tasks I haven’t completed from today’s list to another day’s list. I have to say that I don’t always move items to “tomorrow,” but I do reschedule it. 75% is a good benchmark to shoot for. I think most people think it has to be 100% or it is a fail.

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:43 pm

      I agree. Nothing is perfect and I do move things around in my schedule all the time too.

  3. Linda Samuels on May 24, 2021 at 9:50 am

    What a wonderful list, Janet! The list is essential for me. I check it before, throughout, and at the end of each day. I use an electronic list- the 2Do app. My tasks appear each day and can be scheduled for the future too. If I haven’t completed something at the end of the day, I don’t leave it there. I move it to the next day that I will have time to address it. That way, when I go to sleep, I have no outstanding items on my list. This gives me peace of mind and the ability to reset for the next day. I don’t consider it a fail. When an item or two are left, it’s an indicator that I overestimated how much time I’d have that day to work on things, an emergency or unexpected ‘surprise’ arose, or I just ran out of steam.

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:37 pm

      Interesting Linda. I’ve tried to-do list apps, but they didn’t work for me. Right now I’m using my task list in my CRM as my to-do list. That way I see everything in one place.

  4. Sabrina Quairoli on May 24, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Great tips, Janet! I love to look at my next day schedule at the end of the business day. It really does allow me to let go and enjoy the evening. Thanks for the tips.

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:27 pm

      It also gives me something to look forward to. I love that too.

  5. Lucy Kelly on May 24, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Another fan of the reconcile your list concept, Janet. I hadn’t heard it put like that before but it’s exactly what helps me – review how it went and adjust the to-do list accordingly. Is it realistic or am I setting myself up for feeling like an unproductive failure by trying to schedule twice as much as I could reasonably do?

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:20 pm

      I didn’t know “reconciling” was going to hit quite a chord with folks, but I agree with you that reviewing your actions from the day will help improve your plans for tomorrow.

  6. Melanie Summers on May 24, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    I like the idea if reconciling your to-do list. I’m very productive in the evenings and I like setting up my day the night before so that I can coast through the day without having to guess what needs to be done. Great ideas here!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks Melanie. I like the practice of planning ahead, even if it’s just for tomorrow.

  7. Julie Bestry on May 24, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    I’m glad to see I am mostly meeting your guidelines in this great list. (I think I’m cheating, though, as I don’t schedule meetings before Noon because I’m sleeping a good chunk of that time and my brain isn’t worthy of swiftness or conversation much before then. If only I could schedule Zooms from 11p to 2 a.m., I’d be so much more productive!) And my mid-day break is in the middle of *my* workday, but it falls about 6 p.m. (I work Noon to 6ish and again 11p to the wee hours.) But I think that should still count.

    I love the way you describe it as “reconciling” your to-do list as if it were a checkbook register. Without knowing what we did (and did NOT get done), how would we ever create the next day’s list?

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm

      Yes, it still counts. That’s why it’s important to know when you are most productive. We would not work together well though. Haha! I’m an early riser and can focus best on work early in the morning. Then I’m toast by 2 pm especially if I’m sitting at my desk. Working with clients I have more energy and focus, because it’s more physical.

  8. Jill Katz on May 24, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Wow- OK, so I do some of these things already (a pat on the back for me!). But you have definitely given me some things to consider. It is true that I get my best work done in the morning. So why do I schedule meetings then? I also like the idea of reflecting on my to-do list to see if I was productive or not. Meeting with a mentor or colleague once a week sounds like a smart idea too. Thanks for giving me some new ideas to consider!

    • Janet Schiesl on May 24, 2021 at 7:37 pm

      I’m great at list-making in the morning and reviewing at the end of the day. I’d like to get in the habit of meeting weekly with mentors, but I never have the time.

  9. Julie Stobbe on May 24, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    This is a great list. I agree with all of them. One thing I would add to the list is to schedule meetings in a block or at the beginning or end of the day. This leaves you with large amounts of time to work. Scheduling a few meetings each day a couple of hours apart breaks up the workday and makes it hard to have time to work on the big projects undisturbed and undistracted.

  10. Gina Weatherup on May 26, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Janet, like others here, I love this list! I don’t do the nightly check, but, I check my daily schedule pretty early in the morning (before actually sitting down at my desk to work), so I think my habit fits the spirit. I’ve long been a fan of to-do lists and since starting my business have learned the high value of using an alarm clock and calendar blocking!

    I also want to give kudos for your recommendation for a mid-day break. Research shows that taking breaks from work – of ALL types, mid-day, 15 minutes in the middle of the morning or afternoon, at the end of the day, the weekend, or a vacation – all help us to show up to work energized, refreshed, and resilient to the many challenges entrepreneurs face. So glad you included this!

  11. Janet Schiesl on May 27, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Thanks Gina. I try to take a break every afternoon to do some reading. Sometimes it’s business-related and sometimes just fun reading. It relaxes me the breaks up my day. If I don’t take a break I’m useless in the afternoon.

  12. Janet Barclay on May 27, 2021 at 10:53 am

    I have to admit, when I read the title I didn’t expect to learn anything from this post, but there are lots of things here I’m not doing and some I never even thought of! Thank you so much.

  13. Janet Schiesl on May 27, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    I’m glad you were surprised Janet.

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