The starting point of higher productivity is clear goals. Learning how to manage your tasks will help you determine if you're on track for your goals. For a goal to be effective in guiding behavior, it must be specific and measurable. It must be believable and achievable. It must be written out and time bounded. The greater clarity you have with regard to your goals, the more you will get done and the faster you will accomplish what you do.
The second key to high productivity is clear, written plans of action. Every minute you spend in planning will save you as many as ten minutes in execution. Make a list of every single step of the task, or of your day, before you begin. Always work from a list. Think on paper. Working from a list keeps you on track and gives you a visual record of accomplishment. The very act of writing out a list and referring to it constantly should increase your productivity by at least 25 percent from the time you start doing it.
Third, set priorities on your list. Think the list through before you begin the first task. Use the 80/20 Rule continually. Identify the 20 percent of activities on your list that can account for 80 percent of the value of your entire list. Begin your work on the items in the top 20 percent before you do anything else. The most important measure of the importance or value of any task is the potential consequences of doing it or failing to do it. An important task or activity has significant consequences. An unimportant task has few or no consequences at all. Completing a critical assignment for your boss or for a major customer is a top priority because the consequences of failing to do it can be significant. Having lunch with a coworker is an activity of low value because the consequences of doing it or not doing it are insignificant.