"Don't manage time, learn to manage yourself." Steven Covey
How to be and stay highly productive? Here are some key concepts that have worked for me. It's not the amount of time you put in, it's the quality of time.
ONE THING AT A TIME:
Focus one thing at a time. Work on one project, one map at a time. Don't spread yourself too thin across many activities. Work on one thing till it gets done.
NO MULTI-TASKING OR INTERUPTIONS:
Work without being interrupted. Don't multi-task. I don't know when or how being a multi-tasking became so popular but its one of the worst things you can do. The highest flow of productivity comes when you work without realizing the time flying by which happens only when you are focused. Multi-tasking and interruptions disrupt that flow and it often takes up to 15-20minutes to get back in the zone.
Work in 1-2-3 hour chunks. It's said that energy and focus tends to go down after 90 minutes. Work straight through for 90-120 minutes without distractions. Then rest.
Take breaks every 2 hours. Take a 20-30 minute break and when you do, don't do anything else but rest. Let your mind relax. Don't check emails, forums or work on anything else. Walk away and relax.
Control your environment. Figure out when is the best time you can get work done and not be interrupted. Figure out when is the time you are most productive and design a routine around that. Everyone is different so if its from 1am-3am, then design your day around so you can focus on that.
It took me a little bit to find my time, but once I did my productivity went through the roof. My time is early morning between 8-11am.
Set a routine for yourself of when and how you will work. For example my routine in the morning when I don't have class is:
Wake up at 6:30am,
Coffee, Stretching, Reading
Work on my highest valued project for 1 hour
Work on my highest valued project for 2-3 hour
That is my morning routine. I found that I am extremely procutive during that time and I produce results.
It may take you some time to find your rhythm and flow. Once you do, your productivity will go through the roof.
Remember less is more. Focus on fewer, more essential tasks.