When people talk about productivity, they often discuss different methods of time management, planning, and various types of scheduling (including to-do lists and calendars).
But what if there were no things to put on those lists and calendars?
Here is a crazy approach to getting things done that, when used occasionally, can make a huge dent by taking a bunch of things off of your lists quickly.
For one day, only touch everything you do once.
In other words, if you pick it up off your desk, you have to take care of it. If you open that email, you have to respond to it. If you begin writing that proposal, you have to finish it.
If you really paid attention to a typical day, it would blow your mind to realize the amount of time you probably waste (we all do) simply going from one thing to another, and then back again later. But when you take all of that 'back and forth' out of the mix, when you only touch things once instead of three or four times, you will gain back a bunch of the time for which you always seem to be looking.
Start with an hour of "only touch things once" and then move to a day. When you get really good, you can have "one touch" weeks and get back literally hours of your lost time.
Give it a try. Don't talk yourself out of it by telling yourself it's too unfocused or sporadic. It is! But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It changes up the pace and gets you in and out of things quickly. When you get in the habit of finishing things that are often left open to have to come back to at least once, you stress less and accomplish more.