Would you like to be more productive at work? Would you like to see your team tackle more tasks and complete them successfully? We know we would definitely answer “yes” to both these questions and we’re sure you would as well. Increased team productivity generally leads to promotions and a better salary. Fortunately, there was an excellent book published recently on this exact topic. Its title, “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.” While this book contains a number of good work tips there were five that stood out for us and that may totally surprise you. They are .…
Be prepared to let it go
The first of these work tips is that people who are especially productive don’t stay with just one system or method. They think about productivity continually and frequently change their systems. Here’s an example of this. In his book, Duhigg wrote about how executives at Disney decided to rethink the movie Frozen midstream. They decided to ditch the typical fairytale storyline and reinvent the characters. There was a lot of ensuing anxiety but this fueled creativity and Disney ended up with a movie that became the top-grossing animated film ever!
Take a lesson from “Saturday Night Live”
Regardless of what you might think about this television program there’s one thing that can’t be argued and that’s the fact that it has stayed on the air for more than 40 years. there are a number of reasons for this. One of the most important is that regardless of who the teammates have been – going all the way back to Chevy Chase, Gilda Radnor and Dan Aykroyd – they learn to trust one another and have open, honest discussions. The creator and producer, Lorne Michaels, has developed a culture where cast members and writers feel secure enough to create. Teams become more productive when they use this approach, Duhigg says. This is because members learn to share ideas and feel open to taking risks.
Learn from the USMC
What do you need to get excited about a project? Duhigg notes that the US Marine Corps discovered that the troops that were most engaged were those who felt they had some influence over their lives. Once they discovered this, the US Marine Corps redesigned its boot camp so there were be more assigned tasks without instructions for completing them and more options. You might be able to utilize this same strategy with your team by providing more options for completing tasks and more tasks where there are no instructions. This would not only lead to more creativity but it’s likely that your team members would feel more engaged and, thus, become more productive.
Bet on your future
The championship poker player Annie Duke says, according to Duhigg, that before she places a bet she weighs the probability of each outcome and then acknowledges what it is that she doesn’t know. In the event she bets wrong she views this as experience that she can draw on later. “Most of us are trained to think of the future as one right answer,” Duhigg says, “Force yourself to think about contradictory possibilities; what is more likely and why. Do this and it’s likely that you will make much better decisions.”
If a task seems impossible that doesn’t mean it really is and the more ambitious you are the more you will get accomplished. Duhigg calls these “stretch goals.” This is a goal that’s a huge ambition. It inspires our dreams and motivation. Of course, a stretch goal can create panic. To avoid this, Duhigg suggests taking that big stretch goal and breaking it down into shorter-term goals that will feel more achievable.
If you need some help in achieving your goals here’s a great video in which actor Will Smith provides some excellent motivational advice on achieving your goals in life.
More about the book
Duhigg’s book is worth reading not just for these work tips but for the other anecdotes he includes. It’s a fun read and explains how you could make any job or idea more creative and more efficient. He uses research and storytelling to describe how people get caught up in tunnel vision, locked into a negative corporate culture and stuck in projects. As an example of this one of his most interesting findings is that university researchers have discovered that common, everyday people show an uncanny ability to forecast events when they are taught probabilistic thinking, which is the use of probabilities.
Duhigg also reveals how two very different teams, Google and the afore mentioned Saturday Night Live, use comparable team building plans to create a successful workplace. The book includes very good examples of what these successful companies do as well as examples of how and why others fail.
Finally, there is an especially good chapter about management and how a culture of commitment in the workplace has a very high success rate while other models fail. This includes the story of a General Motors plant turnaround and is a great example of how this can work in a corporation. In other words, Duhigg does not write about theories but real-world examples of how these approaches work.
To learn more good work tips
If you’d like to read “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” you’ll find it on amazon.com where it can be downloaded as a Kindle edition for $14.99. In addition, it’s available in hardcover for $17.07. As Amazon describes it, “From the author of The Power of Habit comes a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think—rather than what you think—can transform your life.”
If you’re in a real hurry to learn more about how work tips you could change your life and become more productive there is a “Summary and Analysis” of it in a Kindle edition free. This version is just 30 pages long so you could learn much about the book without having to wade through all its 400 pages. However, you would miss many of the fascinating anecdotes that Duhigg uses to illustrate his points and you would definitely lose the book’s flavor.