There is just too much stuff out there when it comes to being more productive. I am reading The Ultimate Sales Machine (Chet Holmes) and it offers what is probably the most concise time management system I have seen so far:
Touch it once
Don't open an email if you cannot handle it. Batch them up then do them in a miscellaneous 30 min block. Email is there for your convenience, not the other way around. This rule will avoid a lot of unnecessary distractions.
Make daily lists of the six most important things you want to accomplish
This should not be more than ~ 6 hours of work, because you have to fit it in. It's very important to become PROACTIVE about your time, rather than REACTIVE. Plan your day, or somebody else inevitably will.
Plan how long each task will take
Parkinson's law: a task will blow up in size as we allot time to it. So make sure each task has a dedicated time slot so you can actually complete it. This way you can guarantee you can cross those 6 tasks off your list and keep the momentum.
Assign each task a specific time slot
This is critical: you need to fit the important tasks into your day where emergencies might arise, meetings happen, and you want to have family, gym and reflection time as well. Add in buffers and remember: you are in control.
Prioritize and focus on the most difficult projects first
Your energy and willpower is strongest in the morning so tackle the most important (and often most difficult) tasks early in the morning. As Brian Tracy says: eat that (ugly) frog first thing and you win the day.
Whenever you handle a new piece of paper, ask yourself, “Will it hurt me to throw this away?”
No need to keep all those emails around, keep notes in Dropbox/Evernote of the essentials. Live a lean/ decluttered life.
I hope this helps controlling your time more effectively.
What one thing was critical in making you more productive this week?