Marc Andreessen, one of the more successful entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, has an interesting post in which he lays out his productivity tips. A sample:

  • Don’t keep a schedule.
  • Keep three and only three lists: a Todo List, a Watch List, and a Later List. 
  • Each night before you go to bed, prepare a 3×5 index card with a short list of 3 to 5 things that you will do the next day.
  • Structured Procrastination.
  • Do email exactly twice a day — say, once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.
  • Don’t answer the phone.
  • Only agree to new commitments when both your head and your heart say yes.
  • Do something you love.

Well worth considering — I keep similar lists, prioritize my tasks for each day, utilize ‘structured procrastination,’ and do my best to avoid being bogged down by email and phone calls. Read the post for the details of each, and for a few tips specific to particular organizational contexts.

Andreessen took a lot of flack for the "don’t keep a schedule" part, and, by and large, such isn’t practical for lawyers or for anyone who isn’t a wealthy entrepreneur with the ability to determine their scheduling.

That said, there’s a lesson to be learned from it: meetings, travel, and planned conversations in general have the potential to be huge time-wasters, not least due to the collateral damage they cause by interrupting and slowing down your work before and after the actual meeting.

As such, substantial effort should be made to avoid or to limit travel and meetings. Similarly, if you have to have a meeting, make sure you’ve got ample boring or simple work to do before or after it so that you can use ‘structured procrastination’ to your advantage.