In Smarter, Faster, Better Charles Duhigg writes about the secrets of productivity in life and in business. Below are a list of some intriguing insights:

  1. In a study by MIT, the researchers noticed that the most productive workers in firms shared a number of traits. The first was that they tended to work on only 5 projects at a time. This gave them the time to master new skills associated with each project. Second, these workers shared an intellectual and conversational tic. They loved to generate theories on why things worked/failed, why workers were happy/disgruntled, how managerial styles influenced employees and so on. They were obsessed with trying to explain the world to themselves and to others.
  2. In trying to achieve larger goals, break them down into smaller pieces. And work towards achieving the smaller steps on the way to reaching the larger goal. Give the smaller goals a timeline. For example, if you are trying to run a marathon, break it down into a specific subgoal. (e.g. Run seven miles without stopping). Then ask yourself how you will measure success of the subgoal and if it is achievable.
  3. “You have to be comfortable not knowing exactly where life is going to go. All we can do is learn how to make the best decisions that are in front of us and trust that over time the odds will be in our favour.”
  4. Creativity often comes from borrowing one idea from one field and applying it to another. This generally comes about by people reflecting on their experiences and paying attention to what problems look like. And then looking to see how similar problems have been solved before.
  5. The people who are most successful at learning take the data thrown at them and do something with the information. For example, learning a mathematical formula and practicing applying the math problem allows us to learn it better. Reading a book and taking notes on it helps us sort and retain the information better.
  6. To make better decisions, envision multiple futures. By imagining various possibilities, you’re better equipped to make wise decisions.