By Emily Suess

As a small business owner, remembering everything from people’s names to why you sat down at your desk can be a challenge. However, with a little practice you can take steps improve your day-to-day schedule and lessen those distractions that often wreak havoc on your short-term memory.

1. Use a Calendar

Whether you prefer to use your smartphone, your email client, or an old school desk calendar to track meetings, appointments, events, birthdays, and other occasions, start using a calendar immediately. This frees up some brain power. Instead of remembering what’s on tap for the day, week, or month, you can rely on your calendar to keep you informed.

2. Make Lists

Writing down your lists is best, but even repeating a list out loud can be useful. Use lists to track everything from your daily list of to-dos, to your annual goals, to office supplies you need to order. You’ll be much less likely to forget to return a client’s call or make multiple trips to a vendor because you forgot you needed dry erase markers and legal pads.

3. Stick to a Routine

Important tasks are more likely to be forgotten when your schedule is always up in the air. Do what you can to make each workday begin and end the same way. Perhaps your morning routine can include browsing industry news while you sip your coffee. Then, in the evenings before you leave, you can prepare and prioritize a list of the next day’s tasks.

4. Organize Your Email

Because so much of work is wrapped up in email, it’s important to categorize important emails and make them more search friendly. Set up filters for routine emails so you can quickly find the information you need in folders. But don’t forget to write helpful subject lines when you start a new email conversation. As your mail piles up, even within your folder system, you’ll have a much easier time finding what you need by scanning and searching descriptive email subject lines.

5. Don’t Glorify Multitasking

Yeah, sometimes you have to eat lunch while responding to email, but that doesn’t mean you should pat yourself on the back for it. Doing too much at once can lead to missing important details and increasing your forgetfulness. Feel proud of yourself for maintaining a reasonable schedule that gives you all the time you need to focus entirely on the task at hand.

6. Sleep Well

If you’re not getting enough rest, your memory problems will only get worse. Don’t take your work to bed with you. Instead, clear your mind and reassure yourself that the best thing you can do to prepare for the next day is sleep. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about your business and distract your overactive brain with a good book, an interesting podcast, or a relaxing cup of tea. If you suffer from insomnia, talk to your doctor about possible options.

Although we might joke about old age setting in, for most of us our forgetfulness is mostly due to overloading our brains with too much information. The best solutions include setting automatic reminders and reducing our brain’s overall workload.