Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive
Genre: Health
Published: 3/7/2017
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - From the author of The Power of Habit comes a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why managing how you think is more important than what you think--with an appendix of real-world lessons to apply to your life.

Book Summary - Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Key Insights

In Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg uses some of the latest findings in the worlds of behavioral economics, psychology, and neuroscience to help people be more productive. This book is a look at how managing your thinking can be more beneficial than looking at what you are thinking about.

At the heart of Smarter Faster Better is eight key concepts for achieving maximum productivity, no matter what you are working on. Everything from finding focus and setting goals, to improving motivation and even making the best decisions is looked at in an effort to be the most effective when it comes to productivity.

And what makes a person or business successful? It is the way they view the world and the choices that they make, which are different from so many other people.

Key Points

To be a more productive person, you must stick to your goals

The most productive people are the ones who have goals and stick with them. No matter what is happening in their lives, they are meeting their deadlines and goals.

While many people are not like this, that doesn’t mean we can’t change our habits in order to be more goal-oriented and focused on being productive.

Even if the world throws things in your way to distract you, with the help of Smarter Faster Better, you can learn the best way to stick to a plan.

Reminders of long-terms goals and making choices can actually help you stay motivated

When you start a new project, do you find yourself excited by the prospect of success? Over time, do you feel that excitement waning? This is something that happens often for a lot of people.

In order to maintain your motivation levels, it can be important to make choices that might be a benefit to you or the project you are working on. When you feel like you have more control over a project or situation, not only does it excite you, but it also gives you a greater feeling of motivation.

Even when you deal with setbacks, having a greater sense of control will help you recover quickly.

This means that making choices can be a great motivator, even when you have a task that you don’t want to handle. When you have a task that needs to be done, but that you may not be looking forward to, make a decision that allows you to push past the task. An example of this might have to do with going through a large number of emails. Instead of going through them all at once, pick a specific number of emails and then go back and look at the rest later.

While making a choice can be a great motivator, it may not always work depending on the task. You also need to remind yourself of your goals and what your choices will do to help contribute to your productivity and success.

Staying motivated can be a lot about remembering the big picture. This means that knowing that even if you aren’t excited by a task, knowing that once you complete it you will feel a sense of accomplishment can be motivation on its own.

When you have a goal that is ambitious, break it down into small parts that you achieve with ease

Dream big and set goals that are rather ambitious. Once you do that, break it down into smaller goals that will lead you to the bigger goal.

Aiming higher when it comes to your goals can motivate you to achieve smaller goals on your way to the bigger picture. While these bigger goals can feel overwhelming, there are ways to make it feel easier to achieve.

SMART goals can help you to achieve larger goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Each of these words is a part of a goal and as you reach each of these metrics, you are pushing yourself towards the larger goal that originally seemed unattainable.

While your larger goal may seem overwhelming, it is important to determine whether you are truly being realistic. As long as your smaller goals are achievable, then you have a much greater chance of hitting those bigger target goals.

The thing that makes SMART goals important as well, is the fact that every time you complete one of the goals, you get a sense of accomplishment that motivates you enough to keep working towards that larger goal.

In order to stay focused on your goal, it can be important to anticipate things that might interrupt your focus

Life happens when we least expect it. And things can happen to draw your focus away from your goals.

Even with SMART goals and an outline leading you to your goals, things can happen to try to distract you. That’s why you need to create what the author considers mental models to stay focused. These mental models are simply positive mental stories that keep you feeling excited for the future and what is to come.

Utilizing mental models can act as preparation for everything from conversations to future projects. Even if it feels like stress is going to overwhelm you, using mental models will allow you to imagine how you will conquer what you need to achieve on a step by step basis.

From planning out what steps you will take, to anticipating distractions, it is important to find ways to keep moving forward towards your goals.

No matter how prepared you are, interruptions will eventually happen, but having an idea of how to handle these distractions can help from derailing your progress.

Working with a team? Enhance their performance by making them feel valued

A team can accomplish amazing things if they have the right dynamic. And when team members feel safe to express themselves, it can help with developing that dynamic.

When members of your team know they can make suggestions and won’t face ridicule if they make a mistake, then they will feel safe enough to do their best. This safety also tends to improve performance all around because team members are able to admit when they make a mistake and work quickly to get things fixed.

The team also feels safe enough to offer up ideas that might otherwise seem unconventional.

The environment surrounding the team is one of respect and care, allowing for a more positive working experience. It also helps when a team feels committed to a project’s success, because it leads to more of an effort on everyone's part.

As a team leader, it is up to you to encourage that sense of safety that is needed for the group’s success. Showing every member of the team that they are important and valued goes a long way to ensuring greater success in working towards a larger goal.

Resolve conflicts openly and quickly. Make sure that when a person is upset, you act with empathy.

Having a cohesive team is a great way to work towards success.

You can increase success by fostering a culture of commitment

A successful company is one that has its own company culture. The most successful culture for any company is one that we consider to be a commitment culture.

In order to build this commitment, the management team would work on building a level of trust and attachment. These companies rely on an emotional connection to help foster commitment culture.

In order to foster a business with a commitment culture, it is about hiring people who fit with the company’s overall vision and the team as a whole.

Over the years, it has been proven that the most successful companies are the ones that foster commitment culture. As an added bonus, these companies also have fewer middle managers, because most of the people hired are able to manage themselves.

When your company has people who can address issues directly, it makes everything more efficient. This is because the people working for the company are specialists in their own areas.

Find a way to use old ideas in new ways

You can be innovative without starting from the very beginning. Using older ideas in fresh ways can help you in creating something fresh and new.

By approaching existing concepts with a new approach or a fresh angle, you can still create groundbreaking and innovative ideas.

Another way to improve your creativity is by using your emotions and intuition. Looking at the way you feel about something can give you a sense of whether a project or idea is something good and worth doing.

The Main Take-away

In order to be productive and stay competitive, you need to make the right choices. Whether you are working towards large goals or dealing with SMART goals, it is all about making decisions and focusing on what you can achieve.

It is important to stay prepared for any distractions that may come your way to stop you from working towards a goal. And when you make the right choices, it is not only good for you but also the company you work for.

As a team, it is all about feeling safe and committed to success. And as a company, a culture of commitment is the way to survive and succeed in the long run.

Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, taking old ideas and finding new ways to utilize them can help you find success. Approaching things from a new angle can be all it takes to make a groundbreaking discovery and achieve larger goals.

About the author

Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-prize winning American journalist and non-fiction author. He worked as a reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of two books on habits and productivity, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and Smarter Faster Better. He graduated from Yale University and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. The Power of Habit has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 3 years.


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