1. Productivity is connected to intent. If you intend to get specific work done, you are more likely to get it done. Make sure to decide what you plan on achieving each day and then focus on accomplishing those tasks. If you are just stuck in doing what you usually do and go through your usual routine, stop for a moment and consider whether the tasks you're completing are connected to what's most important and valuable to you and to your work.
2. Plan out your top 3 tasks you plan on accomplishing. Choose three big things/tasks you plan on tackling the next day. That way, as soon as you wake up, you know what you need to get done. Once achieved, you should feel productive!
3. Complete the most important tasks first! As Franklin Covey would suggest, take care of your big rocks first, not the grains of sand. If you picture a jar filled with rocks and sand, if you tackle the big rocks, the sand will filter around those rocks, whereas if you start with sand, not all the big rocks will fit in the jar. Those who work long hours aren't necessarily more productive, they may just be dealing with sand all day, but if you take care of your big rocks in half the time, you were much more productive!
4. Avoid email or other internet distractions for the first hour of your work day. This is very difficult, I know. But if you can spend one hour doing what's most important to you before you check your email, your social media sites, etc, you'll actually get the work done that matters to you most. This is of course different if your work is based around internet usage. Even still, find a way to focus on your tasks first before you get sucked into the email and internet rabbit hole. Use the internet as a reward after you completed solid work. If an hour feels too long, try at least 15 minutes of work before you eventually build up to an hour of productive work!
5. Give yourself fake deadlines. Many of us love to procrastinate, in fact, we've all procrastinated at some time or another. That's because if a deadline is too far off in the distance, why tackle it now? Instead, give yourself a fake deadline of at least a week before it's due, or sooner rather than later, and get it done. See how this impacts your work. I've noticed a great difference in my stress levels when I get things done earlier. Sometimes when you're given a small window of time, you can be more productive in a short amount of time rather than being given weeks to complete a project.
6. Reward yourself. In graduate school, I would reward myself with food only once I finished a draft of my work. Okay, I realize this was somewhat crazy and definitely unhealthy, but it instilled a level of focus in my work that allows me to just focus on one task until I feel ready for a break and a mini reward (tea, chocolate, time with loved ones, etc). But please, do eat while you work!
What helps you be most productive?