Smarter Faster Better | Charles Duhigg

Summary of: Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
By: Charles Duhigg


Embark on a journey to unlock the secrets of productivity with Charles Duhigg’s ‘Smarter Faster Better.’ This book explores strategies to maintain motivation, set goals, and create the right environment for success. Discover how making choices, setting stretch goals, and breaking them down into SMART goals can help you stay focused and motivated. Learn the recipe for a great team dynamic and the importance of psychological safety. Understand the relevance of commitment culture and how it can drive a company’s success. Finally, find out how to spark innovation by using old ideas in new ways and embracing your emotions in the creative process.

Staying Motivated in Your Projects

Maintaining motivation for a project is tough but there are ways to stay excited. People feel more motivated when they have greater control over a situation, even if it’s as simple as making a choice. Reminding yourself how your choices contribute to the project and your overarching goals keeps you motivated.

Motivation is hard to keep up, especially when working on a project. The excitement of starting something new gradually fades over time. However, maintaining your motivation is possible with the right mindset. The researchers at Columbia University found that people feel more motivated when they have greater control over a situation. This means that people get excited when they have a choice to make. If you’re stuck with a task, let yourself make a decision, even something as small as selecting a colored key in a video game.

However, making choices isn’t always enough to keep you motivated. You also need to remind yourself of how your choices contribute to the project and your overarching goals. 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. Remembering the big picture is another essential element of staying motivated.

If you find your attention starting to wane, consider this simple trick. Let’s say you want to develop a drone, and you start reading an essay about drone building, but it is terribly dry, and your attention starts to wane. You’d rather stop and do anything else to keep from falling asleep. 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 boring anymore.

From Dreaming to Achieving

Setting stretch goals and using SMART goals can help you turn your dreams into reality.

Do you have big dreams, but sometimes feel overwhelmed by them? Setting stretch goals can help you achieve more than you ever thought possible. Research shows that people are more creative when they aim for higher, bigger goals. Even if the goal seems out of reach, it can push you to achieve impressive results.

But how can you turn those dreams into reality? SMART goals can help make your big goals more manageable. Start by breaking your stretch goal into smaller, specific steps that are Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, if your stretch goal is to run a marathon, your SMART goal might be to run six miles without stopping. Combine running with gym visits and schedule your progress week by week.

The best part about SMART goals is that they give you extra motivation with each completed stage. Think of each step as a win and use that enthusiasm to keep going towards your ultimate goal. Remember, it may be tough, but with SMART goals, you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Staying Focused with Mental Models

Creating positive mental models can help you stay focused on your goals amidst unexpected distractions. Mental models help you prepare for upcoming tasks by envisioning the entire process from start to finish. For instance, when facing a stressful week, imagine conquering each challenge step by step. Mental models can even apply to mundane tasks, like writing an article. Imagine experimenting with potential sources, narrowing them down, and writing the results in advance. Mental models help you plan for potential distractions, like taking a lunch break with a partner. Consider ways to minimize the disruption to your day, like going to a nearby self-service restaurant or packing a lunch together in advance. Mental models can’t guarantee an interruption-free day, but they can help you handle distractions and stay focused on your goals.

The Secret Ingredient for High-Performing Teams

Project Aristotle, Google’s two-year research on team dynamics, has found that psychological safety is the most significant factor in a team’s success. Psychological safety means team members feel safe to make mistakes and suggest unconventional ideas without ridicule. It’s easier for team members to trust each other when there is a caring and respectful environment. Empathetic individuals make up the safest teams that outperform the rest. When every team member’s voice is heard, and they feel valued and respected, it encourages them to contribute more to the team’s success. Team leaders are responsible for creating psychological safety by encouraging open communication, resolving any conflicts, and ensuring that everyone is heard and respected. As per Project Aristotle, even average performers can achieve great things if a team has the right dynamic and environment.

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