A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist says the most productive people in the world approach life the same way

Programmer work office laptop
The most productive people try out different styles of working. Flickr / VFS Digital Design

If there were a silver bullet for productivity, Charles Duhigg would have discovered it by now.

Duhigg spent years researching the science of productivity and success in preparation for his new book, “Smarter Faster Better.” Yet what he learned is that there is no single strategy that works for everyone all the time.

On a recent episode of “The James Altucher Show,” Duhigg explained why this idea is so important to internalize. The most productive people, he said, are the ones who recognise that they will need to try out different ways of working.

“What the most productive people tend to do is cycle through different systems and then pay attention to what works,” he told Altucher.

They approach life as a series of experiments.

For example, they might try meditating for a week and find it boring (Duhigg admitted that’s how he feels). Next they might try sleeping eight hours a night and find they don’t need that much rest. Then they might try ramping up their exercise regimen and find that helpful.

 The point is to be running a constant life experiment and growing from each stage. Productive people don’t get discouraged when a particular system fails to work out — instead they see it as a learning experience.

“If you are not actually pushing yourself to a point where you’re failing at least a portion of the time,” Duhigg told Altucher, “you’re not actually pushing yourself hard enough.”

The bottom line here is that you’ll want to see all the steps you take on the way to reaching your personal and professional goals as valuable experiences.

Say your goal is to expand your social circle. Duhigg said that if you have an awkward conversation with a stranger but you end up learning something new, you could see the interaction as something to be proud of, instead of a failure.

Duhigg’s observations suggest that productivity is more a process than an end goal — and the sooner you realise that the more successful you’ll likely be.

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