Productivity = Quality > Quantity
As CEO of Veeto.co, my job is as much a thought-exercise as a task-exercise. And while tasks can, in some cases, be accomplished through brute quantity--more labor hours, less focus and attention--thinking really can't be.
Meaningful thinking has to be quality, and in fact, for thinking, quantity might even erode quality. So the key for me is to prepare mind each day for quality thinking. I do this with a rake, a shovel, and an axe, among other tools.
I wake up early to do yard work. I live on a wooded/meadowy multi-acre lot, and there's always plenty to do.
My goal is less about getting the grass mowed or the felled logs split. It's more about clearing my mind through the rhythm of sweat and technique on repeat.
Take mowing the lawn, for example. Once you make your first line, all subsequent lines are just "repeat." This requires very little mental bandwidth, which frees my mind to dwell and reflect the day's upcoming questions.
Then, once I hit the office, there's very little setup time to get my mind churning and focused.
For this reason, yard work, oddly enough, is probably one of the top things I'll miss while I'm at 500 Startups in CA for three months. Maybe I'll just wake up early in CA (which would be mid-morning on the East Coast) and sneak onto some stranger's lawn with a rake. Unsolicited raking--that's not a crime, right?