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Smarter Faster Better

The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Smarter Faster Better (2016) combines personal stories and business research to show that being productive isn’t just about managing your to-do list, but about making the right choices and maintaining the right mindset. These blinks offer advice on how to stay motivated, keep yourself on track and work in teams effectively to maximize your creativity, productivity and success.

Key idea 1 of 7

Stay motivated by letting yourself make choices and reminding yourself of long-term goals.

Have you ever been excited to start a new project, only to have that excitement fade over time? This is a common problem. Let’s look at some tips for keeping your spirits high as you stay on track.

You can maintain motivation by making choices to benefit yourself, your team or your project. Researchers at Columbia University found that people feel more motivated when they have greater control over a situation. Basically, people get excited when they get to make choices! A sense of control and responsibility can also help you recover from any setbacks during the process.

In fact, neuropsychologist Mauricio Delgado at Columbia found that one of the brain’s “motivation centers” lights up whenever a person has an opportunity to make a choice – even something as simple as selecting a colored key in a video game.

So make this phenomenon work for you! If you’re stuck with a task, let yourself make a decision. Even mundane choices can help to pick you back up. If you have 40 emails to read, for instance, just pick four and look at the rest later.

Making choices isn’t always enough to give you a boost, however. You also need to remind yourself how your choices contribute to the project and your overarching goals.

Remembering the big picture is another important element in staying motivated. Even if a task doesn’t feel rewarding on its own, you’ll feel good when you know it plays a part in something more important.

Let’s say you want to develop a drone. You start reading an essay about drone building, but it’s terribly dry, and your attention starts to wane. You’d rather stop and do anything else to keep from falling asleep!

What do you do in this situation? How do you get yourself back on track to focus on your goal?

Consider this simple trick. At the top of the essay, write in bold letters: ”Reading this will help me make the drone.” In short, remind yourself of what you want. When you do this, the essay that will bring you one step closer to your goal won’t seem so boring anymore.

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