1. When writing The Geek Atlas I worked consistently Monday to Friday from 0900 to 1200 and then 1300 to 1700. I used a spreadsheet to track my progress, predict completion time and motivate me.
2. On a daily basis I grab a standard note card and write down five things that I want to achieve that day. That keeps me focussed on what's important.
3. I travel by public transport and use that time for thinking, reading, and writing. Many of the articles I've written have been banged out on a Macbook Air on a London bus. Most of the content has been refined in my head in bed, walking down the street, in the shower etc.
4. I keep my email inbox triaged ruthlessly. Currently there is a single email in my work inbox, and four in my personal one.
Thanks to OP for not saying something like, "Productivity Improvement Methods". These are just random things famous people did that worked for them, with or without any good reason.
I remember standing in the rooms where Victor Hugo (Paris) and Ernest Hemingway (Key West) did much of their work. I just took in the vibe, hoping it might improve my own work. Still not sure it did.
A sample set specifically chosen for the intersection of 'weird' and 'famous' (for productivity). Would anyone else but an eminence like Victor Hugo get written up for telling his valet to take away his clothes so he would write naked - or get written off as mad?