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My single most effective trick for getting things done is to stop doing what I'm doing and get some sleep. There is nothing that negatively affects my productivity and efficiency more than lack of sleep. After years of burning the candle on both ends, my eyes have been opened to the value of getting some serious shut-eye.
I have my own list of management maxims, which begins with "Ignore other people's management maxims." But I think the single most effective trick for getting things done is to get other people to do them. Of course, that only works if you surround yourself with smart, competent people.
1) If I'm writing, my trick—which isn't that tricky—is to close all windows and files except for the document I'm working on and not to check e-mail (I truly don't understand how anyone who has e-mail that pops up automatically ever accomplishes anything) or to answer the phone. And I don't have a smartphone, which eliminates that temptation. If in the course of writing I need to look up information online, I've found that it's best to just put a place-holder in the document and find the information later—once I'm on the Internet, all roads ultimately lead to celebrity gossip. Right now, I'm not sure if it's more embarrassing that I'm conversant with Avril Lavigne's divorce or the disappearance of Jessica Simpson's Maltipoo.
2) If I'm trying to get something done that's not writing-related, my similarly untricky trick is to turn off my computer. I've found that when I step away from it but leave it on, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I should be responding to e-mails, even though when I'm actually sitting in front of the computer, I have no problem doing things other than responding to e-mails (see above re: Jessica Simpson's dog).
3) Politely saying no can free up astonishing amounts of time. I'm still trying to learn how.
Prioritize. In a word, that is what too many of us fail to do too often. When the proverbial to-do list is too big for the memory on your laptop, it is time to step back and say "What really matters?" Too often we don't take that simple step, getting consumed by the papers that happen to rise to the top, rather than by the issues that matter most. Ask the really hard questions about what is worth doing at all and why. After that, there is nothing like an incipient deadline and three cups of coffee to get the job done. Forget the herbal tea; double espresso wins the day.