Work days tend to split between two different modes. The first is when you feel super productive and fly through tasks. Other days, you feel you aren't as productive and would rather spend your time observing, researching or curled up on the couch. However, one is not any better than the other, they are simply different parts of your own process. And by identifying your process, you can learn how to take your productivity to the next level.
Everyone has their own personal process, but most seem to have at least two modes -- Creation and Curation. In curation mode, you might feel more introspective and feel content to observe, research and read. On these days, you don't want to, for example, get into a big board meeting for a presentation. Think of this mode as taking it all in.
When you're in creation mode, you get shit done. You fly through tasks and you feel excited about crossing things off your to-do list. There is no foot-dragging in creation mode -- these are the days you simply wake up ready to go.
When you identify your own process (whether it includes these modes and/or others), you'll better be able to plan your time to optimize productivity. Alex Honeysett of the Daily News noted that when it curation mode, she will observe, take a look at what's going on in the industry and note her own experiences. She doesn't force herself to write when it curation mode. After two or three days, she jumps into creation mode and will feel the need to write it all down. During this time, Honeysett tries not to do any initial observing, as this usually ends in writer's block.
Take a look at your own process. What are your habits when in curation mode? What kinds of things do you need to do before you actually get to completing tasks? Does this involve going for a walk? Do you read certain type of articles first?
Then observe your habits for creation mode -- What kind of environment do you need to be productive? Do you prefer to work from the office, at home or in a coffee shop? Do you create better while listening to music?
Remember that each person's process is unique and you might find, for example, that you spend an entire week in curation mode before entering creation mode for just a day or two. Sometimes you'll be in curation mode when you need to be creating to meet a deadline. Try to balance things out by mimicking the environment and activities that you prefer when you are creating.