Let your stomach wait a sec because I'm about to feed your productivity soul. The Pomodoro Technique is familiar but also better implemented than the old "just use a timer" advice. A brilliant colleague (who is, incidentally, way productive) introduced me to the adorable and effective Pomodoro method. It's adorable because who doesn't love the idea of calling an indivisible unit of time "tomato" in Italian? And it's effective because it helps me to allot the time I require to properly complete tasks-- and then take a 5 minute break.
The Pomodoro Technique is simple; one click through to the site and you'll see. They use a tomato-shaped timer to parcel out time in 25 minute increments, with 5 minutes allotted for doing something completely different with your brain and body. Apparently this helps you absorb and retain info, and also helps boost your productive work time.
The technique aims to reduce anxiety about getting stuff done (which often turns into that terrible self-fulfilling prophecy of not getting stuff done), reduce interruptions, increase focus, and simplify organization.
I've simplified the process that's outlined here for myself, but it's still effective. I'm using a version of his task sheet idea, my regular (8.5 x 11) daily calendar (I love the Staples brand best), the timer and Google calendar to keep things straight. I think the task sheet in Excel has been the best tweak to my routine, because I can have them all in one place rather than scattered throughout my calendar. They're there, too, so I can see due dates as they come, but it's nice to also be able to sort through things by urgency or topic.
And the timer! I sadly don't have a cute tomato timer, but my old square kitchen timer works perfectly. And if a Pomodoro doesn't go well, I follow the rule to say "The next Pomodoro will go better." That helps, in a Tao of Pooh kind of way.
Got a favorite organizational method? Got a favorite tomato recipe? Like spaghetti and marinara? Want to come over for dinner? :)