For the new year, I bought a tiny day planner to help me be sure I hit my biggest priority each day (it's intentionally small so I resist the temptation of creating a long list of tasks).
The trick is to list only 1 or 2 things down for each day (this is NOT a to-do list of all the stuff you need to get done). This is the #1 thing that you will focus on today. If you do nothing else but this, you will still be happy. The way to think about it is,
"If I can only do ONE thing today, what would it be?"
"What's the ONE thing I want to do today to feel like it's been a success?"
And, of course, not all tasks are considered equal. Stephen Covey's quadrants of Urgent/Important shows how tasks can fall into certain categories and prevent us from making progress on the things that really matter.
I'm using my small day planner to do the "Important, Not Urgent" tasks that often get pushed aside by the firedrills, emails, and immediate requests that fall into the "Important, Urgent" category. Those will get done because they have to, and should be "quarantined" to 1-2 hours if possible or relegated to certain periods of the day (and not your most productive hours!).
It's the Important, Not Urgent category that gets the short-end of the stick (and since you don't get around to them, you feel unproductive). This includes things like new projects, writing, revamping your website, administrative tasks you've been avoiding, strategic planning/goal-setting, marketing for your business, staying in touch with people, exercise, organizing, etc.
If you're like me, you often get to the end of a working day and feel like you don't have much to show for it, despite having done a lot. You've had a "busy" day, but not necessarily "productive" in the areas that you want to make progress in.
Are you being productive or just busy?