'Smarter, Faster, Better': The science of increasing your productivity
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:55PM EDT
We all want to be more productive in our day to day lives, but sometimes it can feel impossible to make a dent in the seemingly endless number of tasks on our to-do lists. But a new book argues that the key to becoming more productive is not simply a matter of committing more hours to the task, it's about making the right decisions.
In his new book, "Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business," Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Charles Duhigg explores the science of productivity, sharing fascinating case examples, as well as useful tips.
Duhigg says one way to become more productive is to change your way of thinking.
"The most productive people in companies, we found, are the ones who teach themselves ways to think just a little bit deeper and make decisions about what actually matters to them, rather than just reacting to everything around them," he told CTV's Canada AM.
Duhigg says one of the key ways to adjust your thinking is to take a step back and really think about what matters to you.
This can be difficult, he admits, given the endless stream of interruptions we face on a daily basis.
"We live in a world where it's so easy to be reactive --- you phone is ringing all the time, you've got all these emails to deal with, there's people coming up to you and asking questions constantly," he said.
By stepping away for a moment, and focusing on tasks that matter, you can achieve more, Duhigg says.
"The secret to being productive is to take a step back, to train yourself to take this step back, and say 'Am I focusing on the things that are important to me?'" he said.
He notes that the definition of productivity varies from person to person. For one person, productivity may mean getting the kids to school as quickly as possible so you can get to work, while for another person, it might be walking stress-free with the kids and enjoying your morning.
"The key is deciding what productivity is for you, and then figuring out how do I arrange my life so I do what's important," he said.
'Stretch goals' and 'smart goals'
One way to help prioritize your tasks is to create to-do lists that have both "stretch goals" and "smart goals," he says.
Duhigg says "stretch goals" are the goals which seem out of reach, while "smart goals" are the incremental steps you need to take to achieve the "stretch goal."
For example, writing a book may be a personal "stretch goal." Meanwhile, "smart goals" are the steps that help form the plan to write that book. For example, Duhigg says, "smart goals" would involve everything required to get up in the morning and show up at your desk to begin writing.
He says that, while you may not need to come up with stretch goals every single day, it's valuable to remind yourself on a regular basis "What is my stretch goal?"
Duhigg says, every single day, he writes out a to-do list with a stretch goal at the top and smart goals underneath it.