One of the biggest things I do is "time chunk". Time chunking – and fine tuning the practice – allows me to work with optimum productivity. It’s worth trying in some form or another because it removes a decision from the process of doing: what to do and when to do it.
Another set of practices I put into play are outlined in my manifesto: http://productivityist.com/blog/the-way-of-the-productivityist-a-manifesto
I talk about a lot of other strategies over at my website, and in my e-book "The Productivityist Workbook".
Planning my day is the most important thing I do.
I do what I call my "8 for the Day" which is just a simple list of the 8 things I want to accomplish. I always make 6 work tasks, 2 personal tasks, on Saturdays I flip that ratio and on Sundays there are no to do's.
I figure if I can't get 8 things done in an 8 hour day then I'm not spending my time effectively. It also helps you sit down and physically write what is important to you.
The best bang-for-buck habit would be a solid morning ritual/routine. Have 4-5 things that you line up every morning and can successfully execute and that will get you in the right frame of mind and performance state to have a really productive day.
Discipline is something you build more over time and takes both successfully building habits and staying away from distractions before one day you wake up and realise "oh wait, I'm disciplined now".
As others have mentioned, behaviours like planning your day the night before are also extremely effective.
In my practice working with business leaders and athletes, we identify what successful people do and then tailor the specific behaviors to fit the needs and lifestyle of individual person. Below is how I have tailored the most successful routines to suit my needs.
Musts in the morning:
1. 10 moving minutes (whatever you feel like doing - walk, run, yoga, skipping, weights, stretching, etc).
2. 16-20 ounces of water (important after an 8 hour fast to get the body going with the 10 moving minutes).
3. protein within 30 minutes of waking up (best way to get mind and body ready for the day).
4. take care of myself BEFORE I open up my computer and phone (shower, journal, b-fast, listen to music, etc. to place me in a positive, energetic, and confident mood).
Musts during the day:
1. Feared Things First (whatever is on my to-do list that I fear or don't want to do. Feared things first makes the rest of the day much better!)
2. research says that best time to exercise is either noon or between 5-7pm (helps with sleeping and people are generally more energized during those times. Plus it's a great break from work).
3. Musts at night:
1. Natural Calm (a fabulous magnesium drink to calm the mind and muscles before bed).
***When you take care of yourself first, you are better equipped to take care of everyone and everything else in your day.
***Remember, it best to tweak successful habits to best suit your needs. Feel free to contact me to help you plan the best daily ritual for your life.
Create a Not To Do list....
Put it as first page in your binder, planner, phone, etc. Review it as part of your daily kickoff routine (15mins min) as you're making your "To Do" list for the day. Empower yourself to say No if it's on the "Not To Do" and either delegate or destroy the task.
I'd be happy to talk further about a regular "15 Magic Minutes" morning routine.
Everyday is planned in advance and I like to chunck types of activities into certain time blocks of the day with breaks every hour to refresh.
I wake up every morning and I exercise, I then drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon and honey. These things help me rejuvenate and feel like I have made a good start to the day. I try to avoid sleeping during the day in order to feel more active. I try to sleep early at the same time everyday. This ensures discipline and positivity in my life. I try to write and read everyday to increase my vocabulary and knowledge.