5 years ago I had a salaried career, my beautiful wife, our young son, and another baby on the way when everything dropped out beneath me.
I found out that I was getting laid off from my job and--without a college education, a plan, or another source of income--my wife and I decided that I would go to college.
I've spent the last five years working 30-60 hours per week, taking a full academic course load, dating my wife, and raising my three young boys.
All that to say: I've had to quickly learn how to get things done.
1. Write Out Your Daily Priorities for the Next Week
Every Sunday night, I write out every day of the week (Monday -- Sunday) and, below each day, write out the tasks or goals that you need to complete each day of the week. I would encourage you to write out your full list a week in advance and then check it once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed each night.
Bottom Line: Write out your daily tasks--at least one week in advance--and put them somewhere that you can easily look at them at least 3x per day to ensure that you are getting those things done.
2. Plan Your Calendar
After writing out my daily priorities for the next week, I open my Google Calendar and plan my time in order to execute on those priorities. I first read about an "ideal week" in a blog post by Belief Co-Founder, Mike Anderson, and it has been extremely helpful for my productivity:
"An ideal week should zone off your time so that your calendar can get filled in organically, but still make sure that your life has the right balance of priorities."
Bottom Line: If you don't plan your week in advance then you will be ruled by reactive emergencies or fall into the trap of doing whatever seems best in the moment, which means that long-term goals and daily tasks will get done haphazardly, rather than consistently.
3. Pick 3-5 Things That You Will Get Done Every Morning
Everyone overestimates what they can get done in a day. Pick the 3-5 most important things that you need to get done every morning and then do not go to sleep until you get those things done. I'm dead serious: do not sleep until you get them done. This will help you in two massive ways:
1) One or two nights of only sleeping 3-4 hours will help you to realize the size of your plate quickly and make you more likely to know how many things you should commit to in one day.
2) If you can keep daily commitments to yourself, get things done, and see the needle move forward in your life then it will encourage you to keep going and--like a snowball going down a hill--will help you to gain momentum and actually get more things done.
Bottom Line: If you can get three important things done every day for the rest of your life then you are going to get a lot of stuff done.