Just as I am a Scrum fan I am also a fan of the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is a personal time management method inspired by agile practices such as the backlog, the sprints and making the work priorities visible and explicit. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and the Pomodoro technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo.
A short explanation of how you use the Pomodoro technique to manage your day:
In the morning you make a backlog, prioritize it and estimate it in number of Pomodoros. A Pomodoro is an uninterrupted time span of 25 minutes.
Then you start work: work for 25 minutes then take break – if you are interrupted handle the interruption in a number of specific ways depending on the type of interruption.
Write down how many pomodoros you use on every task and make notes about interruptions.
At the end of the day take some time to reflect on what you have done, how long it took you to do it and what you could do better, document and put in an archive.
This is a great technique to use if you are coming home from work not sure what you have accomplished and how your time was spent. This way you make sure to document your day, think about your priorities and compare them to your actual work done. The data collection side of this technique can also be used to assess the consequences of a change you have made to your habits or working environment.
You can read more about the Pomodoro technique in this free e-book written by the originator himself. He has also made a cheat sheet useful for talking to colleagues or friends about the technique:
As this technique is quite popular with software developers there is a lot of software implementations to assist you in using this technique: several iPhone apps and versions of the timer used to measure the 25 minutes.
I have used this technique when I had to write my thesis at the university and it worked well for me. The e-book is easily read and even though the technique is difficult in practice, the learning curve is not steep. The first pomodoro was the hardest one but the technique was easily picked up. Maybe you should just try it – I would love to hear your experiences.