Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?
This exercise is usually effective at helping people distinguish between tasks that simply feel urgent from those that are truly important. Use it to determine the activities you want to focus your energy on.
Then—and this is important—create a plan of attack by breaking down complex tasks into specific actions.
(1) I like this question a lot, because it forces you to be proactive. It’s easier but far less effective to default to reactive, “feel busy” tasks, like replying to email.
(2) See: If you want to get more done, stop doing these things and How to clear time for deep thinking.