So, for the past few months, I've been experimenting with taking a little time on Sunday to set myself some goals for the week. Nothing terribly fancy: I just take a few minutes to jot down 3-4 things that I want to focus on during the week in a note on my phone, and then I glance at the note every morning to remind myself about my goals. I have two reasons for doing this. One is to try to increase the proportion of my work time spent on tasks that are truly important, rather than just urgent-seeming. The other is to reduce my anxiety about the fact that I can't get everything done all at once.
So far, it seems to be working. I won't say that it's life-changing, but I do feel like I'm spending my time a bit better.
The most challenging part, though, is picking the goals. Sometimes it's pretty obvious (like I've got a big deadline coming up), other times it's more nebulous. Sometimes I've found myself just jotting down something for the sake of having a goal.
At the beginning of this week, I hit on something that I think improved the quality of my goals substantially. Instead of asking, "What are my goals this week?" I asked myself, "If I imagine at the end of this week that I'm sitting down to a nice dinner with my friends and loved-ones, and one of them asks me, 'How was your week?', what would I like to be able to say?"
Thinking of things in terms of "Where do I want Future-Me to be?" really seems to help. I've got to set half-year goals at work soon, a task that I always find a bit tricky, and I might just approach it by writing the performance evaluation that I want to be able to write for myself at the end of the year. (That would have the additional bonus that if I followed through, I'd have a first draft of my performance self-evaluation, which I also hate writing.)