Entrepreneur.com recently featured an infographic showing 35 productivity guidelines, most of which make sense for everybody. But there are a few that I think writers might want to leave out:
"Tune out the news. Nothing important happens, most of the time."
Yes, spending too much time reading or watching the news can be counterproductive, and I suggest skipping speculative stories (e.g., what might or might not happen at an upcoming negotiating session, or which films will win Oscars).
But I do think writers (and everybody else) need to pay some attention to what's going on in the world and at times to take action to try to influence it.
Also, writers need to feed their heads and often in-depth feature stories are good for exposing us to people and settings we may not experience first-hand.
"Decide the outcome before even starting."
If you define the outcome as, "write x number of pages" that's fine, but often stories are not as good as they could be because writers lock them in too soon, rather than continuing to explore alternatives.
"Focus on the important, supress the urgent."
Focus is great, but I'm not sure what they mean by "suppress the urgent." I've supressed the (boring) urgent too often and the consequences aren't good. My advice, even though I don't always follow it myself: Set apart a bit of time every day for the routine so it never turns into the urgent.
"Do the easiest thing first."
I was surprised to see this one; usually the advice is to tackle the hardest thing first. Maybe if the easiest thing is something you can do quickly this would be OK, just to get you to your desk. However, I know from experience that doing the easiest thing first often leads to the more difficult one being carried over to the next day's to-do list (sometimes more than once).
"Assume you are right, when in doubt. Decisive is productive."
I think the world is too full of people who assume they are right. Of course the time comes when we need to take action despite not having enough information (we never have enough information for certainty) but I'd restate this one as, "Take action and be open to the possibility that you're wrong and will need to change course." Decisiveness is productive, but often it produces the wrong things. If you doubt it, consider the political system.
AND THREE OF THE BEST OF THE REST:
"Treat time as your money."
"Start an 'Idea Dump' book for genius ideas that you can't work on now." I'd add, write down all the ideas, decide later whether they're genius.
"If you have a mind block, make a mind map."
(You'll find lots of practical right-brain time management methods in my book, Focus: Use the power of targeted thinking to get more done." It's published by Pearson and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)