Getting A Bit Better

Just like the book’s cover teases, who wouldn’t want to be Smarter, Faster & Better? This book repeats some tried and true advice but also includes new stories and insights making it a worthwhile read. The writing style is business-casual and informative, reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell.

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 300 Pages of Worthwhile Advice

Author Charles Duhigg analyzed how to do this using insight and lessons learned from big names including Air France, Google, Disney, the FBI, GE, and Saturday Night Live. He organized his research results into chapters on motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, and innovation. Despite gathering all these tips on productivity, the author struggled to finish this book. He shares how he persevered by putting his newfound knowledge into practice in the book’s appendix.

My view on how to get things done, which ties into being smarter, faster and better, requires keeping a written to do list. Not just a short-term to do today aka a grocery shopping list, but one that includes some long-term smart goals and big overwhelming, even scary, plans for your future.

Jot down whatever your goals may be – writing a book, getting a degree, or learning to scuba dive. And since those large, multi-year goals are hard and take time, it’s essential to break them into more manageable steps: page by page, class by class, and dive by dive. Setting up specific deadlines in writing that’s easy to monitor help move it all along.

Before I moved to Philadelphia and left my internal audit career behind, I kept a three to four-page to do list in Microsoft Word for years. This document combined my primary long-term goals with other brainless short-term reminders. I printed it and updated the e-version when the copy I lugged around got so messy it needed a redo. Because of that list, I accomplished many professional and personal goals that probably wouldn’t have happened.

When I became a full-time writer, I rebelled and deleted my to do list. I was overly optimistic that my life would be simpler, and I wouldn’t need it. But I couldn’t be more wrong. As a replacement, I used the Notes app on my i-phone that synced to my laptop which made it worse. Now I had dozens of yellow e-notes with lists and reminders that were often repetitive and disorganized. A few months ago, I combined them all back into one Word doc and my original format. I still use the Notes app for on-the-go new ideas and copy them into my “master” document later.

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Monitoring That Never Ending List

Everyone should develop what works best for them to monitor goals. And if you don’t already have something in place, experiment with a few different methods for a couple of months. By setting some stretch goals and crossing them off your list, you should be well on your way to being smarter, faster, and better. Good luck!

Karen Stensgaard published her first novel, AQUAVIT, with the gentle prodding from her to do list. Now it’s guiding her onwards to spread the word and complete the next book in the series.  My Amazon Author Page


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