Michael Jordan’s tongue wag. Wade Boggs ate chicken before every single game. Tiger always wore a red shirt during the final round. And Gretsky always put baby powder on his stick.
Athletes have some weird rituals.
And with good reason: they focus you. Little quirks and rituals can allow us to return ourselves to a more optimal mind-state; one free of distractions and allow for highly effective work.
The principle of the ritual at work is really the same as the principle which makes morning/evening rituals such a vital part of being a highly productive person. If you don’t have a good morning/evening ritual down yet, I highly suggest starting there.
It can be simple: close all of your browser windows and anything else open on your computer, and look at your list. A simple “reset” if you will.
It can be meditative: Pause and take in three deep breaths, focusing on that breath, and mentally visualize a big plow pushing away all the random thoughts in your mind.
It can be a sensory engagement: get a cup of coffee before getting down to work on your next task. (Careful of the caffeine overload if you do a bunch of different projects during the day.)
Or, it could be silly: try balancing your empty cup of coffee on your head for a minute as soon as you finish it.
This has been super-effective for me and the great thing is that the longer you do it, the more effective it becomes.