The ever-excellent Freakonomics podcast published a fantastic episode a couple of weeks ago on ‘How to Be More Productive’. One of the many great things about it was a list of 8 key tools/skills that kept coming up for Charles Duhigg during research for his book, Smarter, Faster, Better:
- Motivation - trigger self motivation by making choices that make us feel in self control.
- Focus - train ourselves to pay attention to right things by building mental models, narrating to ourselves what’s going on as it happens.
- Goal setting - give yourself two types of goals, a strech goal, ambitious, long term, and a specific plan on how to get started now. This is talked about later in the podcast as part of the perfect to-do list, which should include:
- Stretch goal
- Top of the page, what is the main thing I want to achieve for the day.
- SMART goals:
- What are the specific things I can do to make that strech goal happen, starting with what am I going to do when I first sit down to work
- Decision making - think probabilistically, envisaging different contradictory futures and determine which is more likely to occur.
- Innovation - the most creative environments allow people to take cliches and mix together in new ways. Innovation brokers have their feet in different worlds, and know which ideas click together in novel combinations.
- Absorbing data - sometimes the best way to learn is to make information hard to absorb - known as disfluency in psychology.
- Managing others - the best managers put responsibility for solving a problem with the person closest to that problem.
- Teams - who is on a team is much less important than how that team interacts.
The podcast was part of their Self Improvement Month, and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to the other episodes in the series.