Businesses and individuals who want to increase their productivity would be wise to pay attention to emerging neuroscience. Recent research into how we form and reinforce habits paints a more realistic picture than we've ever seen before of how our minds work and why threats, vows, and even financial incentives are such unreliable means of changing people's behavior.
Because so much of our behavior is habitual, and because habits are neurologically hardwired, improving productivity means acknowledging our tendencies to procrastinate or work in ways that are more effortful than strategic. It means redirecting those habits and cultivating new ones – a process that simply cannot be rushed.
Frustrating as these sluggish human realities may seem in a world of instantaneous communication and rapid change, recognizing and working with them – rather than against them – is the surest pathway to success.