"Smarter, Faster, Better" by Charles Duhigg explores the science behind how we motivate, manage and become more productive humans.

In a nutshell it's more about how you think as opposed to what you think, which is a mindset I believe that can change your life. 

We make good choices based on our past experiences which allow us to forecast the future more accurately.

Charles believes “good decision making is contingent on a basic ability to envision what happens next.” This only happens when we have the ability to see how what's going on is different than how we actually believe things should be which is known as a mental model. 

Characteristics of individuals good at managing their attention

  1. They create pictures in their minds of what they expect to see
  2. They tell themselves stories about what’s going on as it occurs
  3. They narrate their own experiences within their heads
  4. They are more likely to answer questions with anecdotes rather than simple responses
  5. They say when they daydream, they’re often imagining future conversations
  6. They visualize their days with more specificity than the rest of us do

Motivation is not innate, it is a skill that can be cultivated and improved upon.

In the book he uses an example from the Toyota company where they are tasked with reopening a former GM plant with the same workers which forced this factory to close. They allowed workers to feel like they had autonomy over their actions and surroundings, which led to a successful relaunch of this car factory. Motivation often has more to do with the belief we are in control more than the actual choices we have to make. 

“Productivity is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort.”

At times when we look to be productive it comes at the expense of performing a task or unpleasant chore. Instead of groaning, we should take an opportunity to ask ourselves "why" we're begrudging performing this particular task. Only after we become aware of the why do we see that these small tasks are a part of a part of a much larger goal or set of values. 

We see that these small chores can have a massive emotional reward which allows us to have a more meaningful view on our decision making, Self-motivation flourishes when we realize that helping around the house or opening a door for someone on its own, might be relatively unimportant. But it is part of a bigger project that we believe in, that we want to achieve, that we have chosen to do.