Rule #1: Establish and follow a system that enforces positive habits (like this set of rules). Big goals are achieved by winning small goals consistently.
Rule #2: Write down all to-do things in a in-bucket list (GTD system), which are evaluated on a weekly basis. Many trivial tasks may be eliminated after the evaluation. Also a good place to record all creative ideas.
Rule #3: Know the purpose by asking why should I do this? Am I really creating value or am I just inventing things to do or to seem busy? Say no to anything that is not high-value.
Rule #4: Set 3 wins for each day, week, month, and year (The Agile way). Plan every Monday. Review every Friday.
Rule #5: Make time for important things and fit others in the remaining slot. Like Stephen Covey’s example of filling a jar with big rocks, then small rocks, sand, water.
Rule #6: Apply 80/20 principle whenever possible. 80% of tasks / outcome can be achieved with 20% of time / effort. 20% of customers make 80% of profit while 20% of customers create 80% of problems.
Rule #7: No meetings in the morning. Reserve entire morning for productive work.
Rule #8: Do the most important thing first in the morning. This follows the 20% effort practice and leads to 80% outcome.
Rule #9: Of those tasks befitting rule #8, work on the most difficult task first.
Rule #10: Maintain focus and flow. Do not multitask (context-switching is expensive and brain can only work on a single demanding task). Block a time for hyper focus and then reward with 5 minute break (the Pomodoro technique).
Rule #11: Set deadline. Limit time to finish a task will increase efficiency (Parkinson’s law). Create positive pressure.
Rule #12: Choose tasks based on context (mental / physical energy, time and other resources availability).
Rule #13: Batch processing – group tasks that can be processed in a batch.
Rule #14: If a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it (when reviewing tasks).
Rule #15: Check email twice a day: once before lunch, once before leaving work.
Rule #16: For effective learning of a new subject, immerse in it. Study all great works on the topic. Apply it to daily life. Focus on a few and master them before moving on to new topics.