Reading Time: < 1 minute

My book review this week is on Charles Duhigg’s recent book – Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Duhigg, a New York Times reporter, is a great storyteller and this book did not disappoint.

Several key takeaways include:

  • Motivation is easier when we have some measure of control over our life. When faced with a daunting task, such as responding to a difficult email, try writing just one sentence that makes you feel like you have some control over the outcome. Perhaps getting that one sentence down will make the rest easier.
  • Focus is harder for some than others. If it is hard for you, try creating mental pictures of what you want to see happen. Write out a story or some bullets about that mental picture.
  • It is not enough to just receive reports. We have to do something with that data. He tells a great story about school teachers who were nudged into copying data on their students onto notecards. The simple act of meeting weekly to copy data onto cards created a situation where teachers began to see patterns that enabled them to adjust teaching methods, resulting in huge strides in student performance.
  • Cognitive tunneling is the inability to focus on the important because the brain has become overstimulated. Duhigg discusses the role of cognitive tunneling in the 2009 crash of an Air France Flight. We may be seeing more illustrations of cognitive tunneling today in the user accounts of people who have been playing the Pokemon Go game.