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Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long (Audiobook)

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Meet Emily and Paul: The parents of two young children, Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients' offices as an independent IT consultant. Their lives, like all of ours, are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, yet more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying a Meet Emily and Paul: The parents of two young children, Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients' offices as an independent IT consultant. Their lives, like all of ours, are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, yet more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying ahead of the storm has become a seemingly insurmountable task. In this book, we travel inside Emily and Paul's brains as they attempt to sort the vast quantities of information they're presented with, figure out how to prioritize it, organize it and act on it. Fortunately for Emily and Paul, they're in good hands: David Rock knows how the brain works-and more specifically, how it works in a work setting. Rock shows how it's possible for Emily and Paul, and thus the reader, not only to survive in today's overwhelming work environment but succeed in it-and still feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day. Your Brain At Work explores issues such as: - why our brains feel so taxed, and how to maximize our mental resources - why it's so hard to focus, and how to better manage distractions - how to maximize your chance of finding insights that can solve seemingly insurmountable problems - how to keep your cool in any situation, so that you can make the best decisions possible - how to collaborate more effectively with others - why providing feedback is so difficult, and how to make it easier - how to be more effective at changing other people's behavior.


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Meet Emily and Paul: The parents of two young children, Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients' offices as an independent IT consultant. Their lives, like all of ours, are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, yet more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying a Meet Emily and Paul: The parents of two young children, Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients' offices as an independent IT consultant. Their lives, like all of ours, are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, yet more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying ahead of the storm has become a seemingly insurmountable task. In this book, we travel inside Emily and Paul's brains as they attempt to sort the vast quantities of information they're presented with, figure out how to prioritize it, organize it and act on it. Fortunately for Emily and Paul, they're in good hands: David Rock knows how the brain works-and more specifically, how it works in a work setting. Rock shows how it's possible for Emily and Paul, and thus the reader, not only to survive in today's overwhelming work environment but succeed in it-and still feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day. Your Brain At Work explores issues such as: - why our brains feel so taxed, and how to maximize our mental resources - why it's so hard to focus, and how to better manage distractions - how to maximize your chance of finding insights that can solve seemingly insurmountable problems - how to keep your cool in any situation, so that you can make the best decisions possible - how to collaborate more effectively with others - why providing feedback is so difficult, and how to make it easier - how to be more effective at changing other people's behavior.

30 review for Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long (Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Very helpful insights on how the brain works. Some takeaways: * Your best-quality thinking lasts for a limited time. The answer is not always to "try harder." * We have a limited bucket of resources for activities like decision making and impulse control. Make one difficult decision, and the next is more difficult. * Prioritizing is one of the brain's most energy-hungry processes. * Picturing something you have not yet seen is going to take a lot of energy and effort. This partially explains why Very helpful insights on how the brain works. Some takeaways: * Your best-quality thinking lasts for a limited time. The answer is not always to "try harder." * We have a limited bucket of resources for activities like decision making and impulse control. Make one difficult decision, and the next is more difficult. * Prioritizing is one of the brain's most energy-hungry processes. * Picturing something you have not yet seen is going to take a lot of energy and effort. This partially explains why people spend more time thinking about problems (things they have seen) than solutions (things they have never seen). It explains why setting goals feels so hard (it's hard to envision the future.) * Maintaining a good focus on a thought occurs through not so much how you focus, but rather how you inhibit the wrong things from coming into focus. * You now have an additional excuse for taking that stroll in the park when you're stuck on a problem. I can just picture someone's last words to their boss being fired: "I am going for a walk to forget about work and get totally unconscious." As funny as this sounds, it is what the research shows is needed when you get stuck at an impasse. The wrong answers are stopping the right ones from emerging. * Insights occur more frequently the more relaxed and happy you are. * Look for solutions instead of focusing on the problem.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    The good news is I'm not Dazed and Confused . It's just my brain being a brain; everyone is in the same boat. David Rock's goal is to help the reader understand the brain's limitations,be mindful of it and act accordingly. The prefrontal cortex, the Director of the Mind, is limited. It can only hold on to a small number of items for a limited time, gets tired easily, easily distracted, and reacts strongly to even mild threats. This book follows a husband and wife in typical work and family situa The good news is I'm not Dazed and Confused . It's just my brain being a brain; everyone is in the same boat. David Rock's goal is to help the reader understand the brain's limitations,be mindful of it and act accordingly. The prefrontal cortex, the Director of the Mind, is limited. It can only hold on to a small number of items for a limited time, gets tired easily, easily distracted, and reacts strongly to even mild threats. This book follows a husband and wife in typical work and family situations and gives a before and after scene (with acting with the brain in mind) His big idea is that Attention Changes the Brain. There is an discussion of how the brain operates and a number of pragmatic recommendations(evidence based) to work within the limits of the brain. The author is a consultant,coach and lecturer and presents the material in an interesting way with some practical options. It's clear that he has been doing this for a number of years.Recommended. My Notes on his 1 hour long presentation: Your Brain at Work held at Google. His hour long discussion @ google on the subject http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXf... The Four Surprises about our Brain 1) Rational Thinking is Overrated 2) We've got emotions backward 3) Social Issues are primary 4) Attention Changes the brain 1) Rational Thinking is Overrated: When you try to hold thoughts is your PFC (PreFrontal Cortex) . Brain Functions; Understand, Decide, Recall, Memorize and Inhibit uses the PFC which has a very limited resources. Doing a non-trivial math problem requires the brain to start thinking of one thing only : It must think serially and it can't think parallel. Very conscious thinking uses a very small part of the brain, uses energy,you can only do one thing at a time. People looking to put less effort into things and avoid effort/discomfort. PFC Size Analogy:If the amount of memory that can be held at one time in the PFC(aka working memory) is the size of a cubic foot the size of the rest of the brain is the Milky Way. "A Threat Response" feeling anxious. It's hard to make others do things that require an effort to think/change they will react with a threat response. We gravitate toward things we do well and try to make our actions thought free. Rational Thinking is overrated in two ways 1)what you can do with it and 2) It's not how we solve most problems. Any time you do a math problem or make a conscious decision you use up a limited bucket of resources. Doing a math problem uses a limited resource, uses up glucose,Effort uses Energy. Your brain becomes noisy. Three Levels of Thinking: 1) Deleting Emails 2) Scheduling a Meeting 3) Writing a Pitch (uses glucose/energy perhaps done first) If you truly respected attention as a limited resource what would you do differently ? About 60% of problems we solve we don't know how we solved it. The PFC is an inhibitor. In order for insights to occur you have to stop thinking. You have to dampen down the existing status quo thought. Allow for an entirely different wave of thinking. The ability to quiet things down allow for more insights. The ability to listen to loose associations. (brain storming). The more happy the more weak associations you notice. Big Question: What does it express about what you presently do and what does it express about what maybe you might do differently ? Internal Data Processing Cognitive Control start thinking one way then switch to another is a valuable skill to have. In problem solving the brain goes into idle for a few seconds and significantly fewer brain cells are used meaning less electrical activity, less arousal, less dopamine. It is quieter and needs to be listened to. You need to notice spikes of Dopamine to notice these thoughts. The ability to have these insights is equivalent to your ability to quiet down you mental activity during this time. When your anxious less notice of weak associations When happy more notice of weak associations. Your field of view expands with Happiness. What does this explain of what you currently do? and what does it suggest of what you should do differently ? PFC is the only part of Brain connected to all others. The only part which has a braking system . It is where imagination takes place.Think it as a stage where you can launch thoughts and compare them to others. Combine information and make it into something new. Braking helps with the capacity to regulate emotions. 18:00-Starts talking about Emotions being backward. Talks about the Marshmallow test (defer gratification) We as a general society have emotions backward. The Limbic system is always on the look out for negative things. Weighs things as a reward or threat and is strongly moving way from threats and moves slower toward rewards. The only organizing principle is to Minimize threats and Maximize rewards. Bad is stronger,longer lasting more devastating than good. Media outlet bad stories are far more engrossing. Even a small element stays in the Limbic longer. (requires less energy, glucose to activate and hold data.) Emotion Regulation Research. Threats even minor creates reduced insights or Noise. let it out Suppress Cognitive Change Cognitive is the best but it must be done quickly. You must be aware of emotional states. * Labeling: Definite it by a quick word. By saying it is a stronger action than thinking * Reappraisal (re-framing)- Use the time to do something really great. Bad is stronger than Good to the brain Limbic System The more you understand about your brain the more you can reappraise all sorts of internal threats. You can actually reappraise things as brain functioning, not you, something that can be changed. Change to a shift state where you see more options. Brain goes to the negative all the time The degree of activation of the Limpic system is in direct response to the degree of activation of the PFC. *Logical People want to grin and bear it (but not as effective) *Those who suppress more vs appraising more have diminished lives in many areas. Maslow Hierarchy of needs is WRONG. Social needs are primary . Social Pain is equal to the physical pain Social Reward is equal to ... The owl in the maze affecting the skill due to threat We tend to Emotion Regulation Research. The moment we get a threat we change immediately. A strong positive impacts our abilities as well. Brain gravitates to the negative not too high not too low for maximum processing Cognitive Change needs to happen quickly,It's preferred but must happen quickly. It requires being aware of cognitive states. Put on the brakes. 28min. When Labeling do it with a word or two don't relive the state which can worsen it. Label is hungry, angry. Saying it outload reduces the cognitive load. By labeling an emotion it dampens it down Not the traditional wisdom of not talking about emotions (which makes it worse) Reframing: Using a negative event traffic to good use :ie practice, listen to book on tape. Do you suppress or reappraise. The more you want to supress,grin and bear it is not good. Supressors are below average in Optomism,Problem solving, Likability The more you understand about the brain,the more you can reapraise. Shift from a threat state to a state you are more comfortable. It's Maladaptive in the work place. Social issues are Primary Praise is the more important than money. Even a computer voice saying Good Job is a great reward. Managing with the Brain in Mind The Following Social States cause Reward or Threat States **Status, Autonomy, Relatedness, Certainty, Fairness ** These are the Brains goal when it comes to Social Situations Status- (Drives our behavior massively) We have a Status Thermometer pecking order- all about going up or down Avoid things where our status goes up or down When you try to change someone create an immediate status threat Performance Review-- Let me tell you what people have been saying about you...... Certainty (Important with Status as well) Value in what to expect Too much certainty is lack of Autonomy Even ambiguity is a threat Autonomy With no autonomy , small threat becomes bigger With autonomy, small threats become smaller Relativeness- Are you in my InGroup or my OutGroup empathy for ingroup and not for outgroup Friend or Foe (trust or no trust) Foe is default with exceptions of really attractive people, baby, when you're drunk. Fairness Engagement is an increase in dopamine and we are being rewarded. When you try to change anyone you will have a status threat Deep Engagement doing thing that make a difference in the world. Attention changes the brain in seconds. It's easier to change attention when you feel safe. The more you understand: Minimize the Threat Response and Maximize the PFC Space The more language you have to make choices The more you control the future The Dali Lama was asked Q: Why are you always happy? A: Because it feels better Two ways to experience: Direct Experience Circuitry: Literal interpretation . Directly taking in Data. In the Flow. Narrative Response Circuitry: A story of the event. There long term It is possible to optimize internal brain processing Reappraisal vs Re Thinking becomes a state as opposed to a trait The cheapest form of reappraisal is humor Focus on any kind of data is a good exercise taking in data @ real time and how much more energetic you feel and how your world has expanded. Focus on being Unfocused and listening to what comes into your mind. Additional Resources: His white paper on the Subject http://www.strategy-business.com/arti... The neuroscience of Mindfulness http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/y... Understanding the Science of Change http://www.cio.com/article/24975/Chan...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    I am currently rereading this (and taking notes), but to be honest, this is probably one of the most important books I have ever read. It explains SO much of how the brain works and interacts with the world and how it is really bad at a great number of things. Thankfully though it also tells you how to trick your brain into working how you want it to. Truly fantastic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Siddharth

    I've read my fair share of books about the brain. Most of them delve into the things you can do to *externally* to allow your brain to function optimally i.e. sleeping habits, eating habits, social relationships etc. This is the first book I've read which deals with meta-cognition on a very real and practical level. I was a bit skeptical about the format of this book when I started reading it. The examples, in the form of short stories involving certain characters, seemed somewhat contrived and I've read my fair share of books about the brain. Most of them delve into the things you can do to *externally* to allow your brain to function optimally i.e. sleeping habits, eating habits, social relationships etc. This is the first book I've read which deals with meta-cognition on a very real and practical level. I was a bit skeptical about the format of this book when I started reading it. The examples, in the form of short stories involving certain characters, seemed somewhat contrived and artificial. However, after completing the book, I now feel those examples / anecdotes put the necessary points across very well. The necessary points being: 1. The cognitive sweet spot (being "in the zone") is a state that is somewhat hard to attain, and even harder to maintain for any significant duration of time. 2. An overly aroused limbic system (the large chunk of the brain that handles emotions and their regulation) easily interrupts prefrontal cortex inhibiting our decision making abilities and creativity. 3. The prefrontal cortex is the work horse of the human mind, and is extremely energy hungry. It is easy to exhaust, and its limited resource must be utilized with the greatest of care. To do this, one must first be aware of all the limiting factors of this portion of the brain. Knowing its weaknesses can help you effectively cut off distractions, maximize the efficiency of your brain, and help you be your productive best. Excellent book. Short, concise and to the point. Somewhat repetitive at times, but not overly so. If you're looking for a book that'll help you better understand and utilize your brain, this is it. 4 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    P

    This book, for me, is a bit like The Da Vinci Code. And a bit unlike it. It's like the DVC in that the subject matter is very fascinating, and the basic premise of the book – combining neuroscience with self help – is great. However, it's also bloated, dull, predictable, and at times, downright banal. Your Brain at Work could have been inspiring if the writer hadn't adopted such a patronizing, schoolmasterly tone, if the writer had had more faith in the wit of the reader. As it is, the effect is This book, for me, is a bit like The Da Vinci Code. And a bit unlike it. It's like the DVC in that the subject matter is very fascinating, and the basic premise of the book – combining neuroscience with self help – is great. However, it's also bloated, dull, predictable, and at times, downright banal. Your Brain at Work could have been inspiring if the writer hadn't adopted such a patronizing, schoolmasterly tone, if the writer had had more faith in the wit of the reader. As it is, the effect is lackluster. There's an attempt to illustrate the points of this book with a story. Unfortunately, the story is the book's weakest point: characters are too flat to be believable, too generic to identify with, too unsurprising to spark interest. It really is a pity. It's unlike the DVC in that I did, despite its shortcomings, finish Your Brain at Work, while the DVC ended up in the fireplace... ;) P.S. True story: it appears this book is purposefully written in such a way that one hears it as spoken with the voice of Kevin Spacey.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    By far the most useful book about productivity I've ever read. Taking the whole of neuro-cognitive research to date, he talks about how and why your brain functions (or fails to function) during day-to-day tasks. More importantly, he reveals how you can help your brain out by using it in an efficient way. The information is presented in an engaging way, and all the "secrets" of your brain will ring true with your own experience. Essential reading for anyone who has a hectic schedule or ever feels By far the most useful book about productivity I've ever read. Taking the whole of neuro-cognitive research to date, he talks about how and why your brain functions (or fails to function) during day-to-day tasks. More importantly, he reveals how you can help your brain out by using it in an efficient way. The information is presented in an engaging way, and all the "secrets" of your brain will ring true with your own experience. Essential reading for anyone who has a hectic schedule or ever feels like their brain is fighting against things they need to get done.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Johnson

    Excellent book that should be required reading for people that work and have a brain, lol. It doesn't read like a self help book, very entertaining and you'll learn a thing or two as well. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darren Turpin

    Speaking as a layman with not much in the way of previous exposure to the field of neuroscience, but with a general interest in both psychology and behavioural economics, I found this insight into the essential functionality of the brain to be absolutely fascinating. The author's style is one of engaging narrative. He provides easy-to-identify-with behavioural scenarios to illustrate the central message of the book: namely that everything we do, think and feel is the direct result of neurochemic Speaking as a layman with not much in the way of previous exposure to the field of neuroscience, but with a general interest in both psychology and behavioural economics, I found this insight into the essential functionality of the brain to be absolutely fascinating. The author's style is one of engaging narrative. He provides easy-to-identify-with behavioural scenarios to illustrate the central message of the book: namely that everything we do, think and feel is the direct result of neurochemical changes within our brains. And by recognising and working with our internal and external triggers, we can all develop a much greater understanding of, and control over, our mental processes, actions, reactions and emotions. The eventual aim of which is simply to achieve greater mental stability and by doing so, interact much more smoothly with the environment we live in, the lives we lead and, most importantly, the people we encounter or work with on a daily basis, and the people we live with and love. Highly recommended to anyone who's ever wondered just what the hell is going on in their own head, or ever wished they had just a bit more mental focus and control.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Warren

    After reading "Brain Rules" by John Medina, I was drawn to this book as well to see if I could focus some of my newfound knowledge on my work. While the subject matter of the brain regions and functions wasn't quite as inherently fascinating as Medina's book, it was still compelling in the practical application of this info to work and life. He uses a fictitious couple to demonstrate a typical day and typical scenarios that we all face in one way or another. The first act of each scenario is how After reading "Brain Rules" by John Medina, I was drawn to this book as well to see if I could focus some of my newfound knowledge on my work. While the subject matter of the brain regions and functions wasn't quite as inherently fascinating as Medina's book, it was still compelling in the practical application of this info to work and life. He uses a fictitious couple to demonstrate a typical day and typical scenarios that we all face in one way or another. The first act of each scenario is how people with untrained brains are most likely to behave. By using these fictitious examples, he is able to explain otherwise complex brain functions in a easy to follow and less technical narrative. After the "Bad example", he will explain scientifically why we tend to behave in such ways, and then he will re-run the scene using the new knowledge gained in the chapter. The second act is then retold as a do-over, and the reader is able to see how understanding and mastering our own brains could have a significant impact on work and family life. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much, although I still preferred the raw science and true life examples of Medina's book without the need for the sometimes obvious conclusions of the fictitious stories. A solid four out of five stars for me

  10. 5 out of 5

    Arlene

    Boring. I am sorry but I just could not read past the third chapter. I found it very boring. The episodes between the two characters irked me. I wound up going right to the end of each chapter just to get the summation. I also felt a lot of what was recommended was basic common sense that people exhibit all the time without requiring the guideposts of neurologists.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Clare Cannon

    One of the most brilliant books I've read. I limit myself to one chapter a day so that I can let it all sink in.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patama

    There are 3 Acts (parts) of this book Act 1: Problem and decision - I feel the strategies and rationals pretty close David Allen's Get thing done ie. Keep issues from our head or do one thing once a time. Act 2 and 3 become unique and sticky idea with "SCRAF" - Status, Certainty, Relateness, Autonomy and Fairness. I have good impression after applying this model for social network. The character made this book transformative , in my opinion, is "Four Noble Truths (ariyasaj sii)" way of approach. There are 3 Acts (parts) of this book Act 1: Problem and decision - I feel the strategies and rationals pretty close David Allen's Get thing done ie. Keep issues from our head or do one thing once a time. Act 2 and 3 become unique and sticky idea with "SCRAF" - Status, Certainty, Relateness, Autonomy and Fairness. I have good impression after applying this model for social network. The character made this book transformative , in my opinion, is "Four Noble Truths (ariyasaj sii)" way of approach. Start with problem ( scene 1) story then discussing about origin in problem (evident from neuropsychology research). They show Path that leads to the Cessation of problem (applicable stretergies for everyday life) and depict with how it be without problem (scene 2). One of my favorite book forever :-)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Gibson

    I don't often give a "self-help" book 5 stars but this deserves all of them. Having recently moved from being in charge of 100% of my time to taking on a new job, I have struggled with attention, focus, time management, and all the usual challenges of being accountable to other people  This popped up in the Audible Deal of the Day so I bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did! It has helped me tremendously.  David Rock does a great job of explaining how your brain works and gives strategies to cope wi I don't often give a "self-help" book 5 stars but this deserves all of them. Having recently moved from being in charge of 100% of my time to taking on a new job, I have struggled with attention, focus, time management, and all the usual challenges of being accountable to other people  This popped up in the Audible Deal of the Day so I bought it on a whim. I'm glad I did! It has helped me tremendously.  David Rock does a great job of explaining how your brain works and gives strategies to cope with the human brain's limitations. For example, the prefrontal cortex is the most energy-hungry part of your brain. That's the part you use for decision making, prioritizing, problem-solving, and impulse control. Think of it as a limited resource. You can't just "try harder." That won't work. You can either fight against the human brain's limitations or figure out how to be aware of and work with those limitations.  The structure of the book is a bit odd but effective. The book has four acts, the first two being about your own brain and the second act focusing on interacting with other people's brains. In each act, readers follow Emily and Paul as they face challenges at home and work. This is followed by a scientific explanation of what's going on inside Emily and Paul's respective brains and why things are so difficult for them. The last part of the act is a "take two" where you see Emily and Paul make different decisions than they did the first time around because they understand how their brains function. At the end of each scene, you'll find "Surprises About the Brain" and "Some Things To Try." Sounds corny, but the book structure works.  If you only read one book about time management and/or productivity, I recommend this one. It is grounded in science with actionable items especially helpful someone struggling with productivity. Highly recommend. 

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alexandru Lapusan

    An absolute must read. Heck, it should be taught in schools everywhere.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Taka

    VERY useful-- Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works and how to use your brain wisely, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to perform better at work, school, or in life in general. In this book you'll learn how to fend off anxiety and negative emotions, be creative on demand, influence others, and much more backed up by neuroscience and told in easy-to-remember story format. The ARIA model of creativit VERY useful-- Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works and how to use your brain wisely, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to perform better at work, school, or in life in general. In this book you'll learn how to fend off anxiety and negative emotions, be creative on demand, influence others, and much more backed up by neuroscience and told in easy-to-remember story format. The ARIA model of creativity, the labeling technique to calm your limbic system, and the SCARF model alone are worth the price of this book. I also took away how important mindfulness is in applying all the information contained in this book and using my brain to its full potential. Read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bjoern Rochel

    My book of the year. Very grounded, informative and tangible. Highly recommended

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrei Zgirouski

    There are books that are well written and the process of reading them is a great pleasure, but they are fiction or just author’s personal opinion. There are also books that provide scientifically reliable information, but they are difficult to read and boring for non-specialists. This book is the golden mean between those two. The book introduces the reader to the topic of neuroscience. * How exactly do we solve new difficult tasks? * How our brain resources are limited during the day? * What are There are books that are well written and the process of reading them is a great pleasure, but they are fiction or just author’s personal opinion. There are also books that provide scientifically reliable information, but they are difficult to read and boring for non-specialists. This book is the golden mean between those two. The book introduces the reader to the topic of neuroscience. * How exactly do we solve new difficult tasks? * How our brain resources are limited during the day? * What are insights from brains perspective and how they occur? * How emotions are born inside the brain and how they affect our ability to make decisions (and how to cope with them)? * How our brain perceives social life? * Can our understanding of the brain change it? * What are the best ways to induce another person to change? Answers to these questions as well as many others all could be found in the book. Author uses theatre metaphor with stage and actors to explain in simple terms the mechanisms of the brain. Before every concept he also tells short stories from everyday life of ordinary people with their problems and decisions and afterwards he shows how they could act differently relying on neuro-scientific research. Now I can say that it is one of the best books I’ve read, would recommend it to anyone who has ever been interested in how the brain works.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Liad Magen

    I found the methods described in the book very helpful. I can clearly notice a difference since I've started practicing its recommendations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yaroslav Ganin

    To be completely honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical about books like this: it’s somewhat weird to think that someone who knows nothing about your life (and doesn’t even interact with you) could bring any insights on how to make it better. Be that as it may, a good friend of mine suggested that it might contain a few interesting and surprising ideas, so I decided to give it a shot. The book is structured as a narrative about a single day in the life of two characters, Emily and Paul. As you read ab To be completely honest, I’ve been a bit skeptical about books like this: it’s somewhat weird to think that someone who knows nothing about your life (and doesn’t even interact with you) could bring any insights on how to make it better. Be that as it may, a good friend of mine suggested that it might contain a few interesting and surprising ideas, so I decided to give it a shot. The book is structured as a narrative about a single day in the life of two characters, Emily and Paul. As you read about the situations those two end up in at work, you get a strange feeling: this all is oddly familiar – maybe your own life is not as unique as you thought it was, and you could, indeed, extract some useful knowledge from the text. It doesn’t take too much effort to do that since each scene in the story is followed by a fairly concise neuroscientific analysis and a set of practical recommendations. The latter are immediately applied in the “take two” version of the same scene – not only it helps to internalize them but also quite fun to read. The book does a decent job of describing the limitations of the brain. The idea that quite a few failures to behave efficiently could be accounted to those limitations really puts your mind at ease. Acknowledging the problem is, of course, just the first step, and it would be very upsetting if there were no solution. Fortunately, the book suggests there are ways to overcome the brain’s natural tendency to slack and prefer suboptimal actions. The key ingredient in all of them is self-awareness. It takes a non-trivial amount of practice to master the skill of activating the “internal director” (the term used in the book) at will but the payoff is substantial: by “directing” subtle changes in how our brain operates we can achieve a major improvement in quality of life (e.g., being able to stay cool under pressure or quickly overcome impasses). I think it’s a subtle point, but I like the fact that the author himself follows his advice and doesn’t just tell you what to do (as we all know, brute force rarely works). Instead, he increases relatedness by telling a familiar story (as I mentioned above) and also attempts to explain how exactly the proposed recipes are meant to affect the inner workings of your brain (and brains of other people) and thus makes it way easier to adopt them. There is one more important reason why I find “Your Brain at Work” valuable: it puts my own observations about myself and others in a system and provides a bigger picture. I was also positively surprised that some of the techniques I developed over the years through reflection turn out to be quite effective according to the book, and now I have a better understanding why. In summary, I can recommend the book to anyone who (like yours truly) likes to think he knows everything and has everything under control and then all of a sudden falls on his face and finds himself overwhelmed and confused. That’s probably just your brain, and there is a solution! P.S. To have a tiny bit of contrast in this review, I’d point out that there is at least one annoying factual mistake in the book – “Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi” does not sound like a Russian name, and indeed, according to Wikipedia, he is a Hungarian psychologist.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Ch. 1: Prefrontal cortex responsible for understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing, inhibiting (keeping extraneous thoughts out so you can concentrate). It's like a very small stage--you pull things to/from the audience (memory), only a few can fit on stage at a time. It uses a ton of energy, which is a limited resource. That's why it's hard to do serious thinking late in the day. Prioritize first--it's hard. To make things easier for your brain, don't try to hold ideas in it while doing som Ch. 1: Prefrontal cortex responsible for understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing, inhibiting (keeping extraneous thoughts out so you can concentrate). It's like a very small stage--you pull things to/from the audience (memory), only a few can fit on stage at a time. It uses a ton of energy, which is a limited resource. That's why it's hard to do serious thinking late in the day. Prioritize first--it's hard. To make things easier for your brain, don't try to hold ideas in it while doing something else--get things on paper, and bring in the big guns by representing things visually. (Prefrontal cortex:rest of brain::coins in your pocket:entire US economy pre-2008 crash) Frickin' fascinating so far. Ch 2: chunking and top-down stepwise refinement let you do way more processing. The idea that we all have 5 +/- 2 spots in our mental buffers is wrong: nobody has more than 3 or 4. Yay! I thought I was defective. Ch 3: Multitasking doesn't work. Aside from the fact that your prefrontal cortex isn't multithreaded and context switches have a lot of overhead, doing mental work takes energy. Even for mindless physical tasks like squeezing something really hard, study participants lost 50% of their strength when trying to do it while doing prefrontal cortex tasks. The best you can do is make things routine/pattern--then the basal ganglia handle them. The basal ganglia rock. They're how you can drive and sing along with the radio easily. They pick up patterns and make you more efficient even when you're not aware of it. Yeah! Good management: reduce uncertainty, protect people's sense of status, keep things fair. Ask thought-provoking questions to help people find their own solutions instead of solving things for them. Expecting something good makes your experience of a situation more pleasant than objective reality. But disappointment sucks. Lots more interesting stuff but no time to write it up. Identifying how you're feeling can help you get a grip.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Surprisingly good and useful for business self-help/ pop psych, a genre that often sends me to sleep. The author carefully explains recent research about the brain and especially the prefrontal cortex, then uses it as a launching point for suggestions about how to work more effectively. Not surprisingly, a lot of it has to do with discarding bad habits that our computers and mobile devices -- and our increasingly intrusive employers -- have lulled us into adopting. This would be dull stuff if not Surprisingly good and useful for business self-help/ pop psych, a genre that often sends me to sleep. The author carefully explains recent research about the brain and especially the prefrontal cortex, then uses it as a launching point for suggestions about how to work more effectively. Not surprisingly, a lot of it has to do with discarding bad habits that our computers and mobile devices -- and our increasingly intrusive employers -- have lulled us into adopting. This would be dull stuff if not for the scientific research that gives his suggestions refreshing urgency. He also uses a very effective device of taking us through a day in the lives of a working couple, as they attend meetings, take phone calls, pitch jobs, and go through negotiations, presentations and cogitations -- first as they usually happen in our own lives, then as they MIGHT have happened instead, had these characters made practical use of the new research. It works. He also uses an overarching metaphor for the prefrontal cortex, comparing it to a stage, with actors and a director. This also turns out to be very effective, bringing to life some otherwise pretty dry and abstract research. I am no great fan of business self-help books, and was prepared to give up on this one early, but it held me to the end. The first half is by far the more groundbreaking and compelling part. The second -- which deals with our social relationships, and how to lead more effectively, treads more familiar ground, but still has some good observations to make. In any case, it's the most useful business book that I've read in years, hence the five stars. I listened to this as an audio book, and also intend to buy a digital copy, mostly because I want to double-check the original research that the author references, and memorize the brain anatomy lessons.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peter House

    I gave this book five stars because I really, really enjoyed reading it. The language is unsophisticated and the pattern of delivering is predictable. It's almost as if the author knew the optimal way the brain would receive his message. The book focuses on two fictional but very real characters, Paul and Emily, one an IT consultant, the other a recently promoted VP of marketing, and both a couple with two teenage children. You follow them through a variety of scenarios where they make choices o I gave this book five stars because I really, really enjoyed reading it. The language is unsophisticated and the pattern of delivering is predictable. It's almost as if the author knew the optimal way the brain would receive his message. The book focuses on two fictional but very real characters, Paul and Emily, one an IT consultant, the other a recently promoted VP of marketing, and both a couple with two teenage children. You follow them through a variety of scenarios where they make choices or indulge emotions that lead to destructive behavior like hurting other people's feelings, annoying others, or not achieving the results they were looking for. I confess that some of the things Paul did made me cringe as I recalled my own similar mistakes. David Rock then walks the reader through what transpired in their minds and offers ways to address the situation and steer toward desirable outcomes. At which point, we revisit Emily and Paul and see how, armed with the same knowledge we just acquired, navigate challenging situations. The book is a compelling read. I couldn't put it down in the same way I couldn't put down, "The Name of the Wind". We can all learn how better to control our minds and steer away from destructive choices and emotions. I would recommend this book to anyonel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hodge

    The first few chapters were interesting, the last half of the book was gold. Essentially, David Rock details all the things that happen in our brain at work (all based on the latest research about the brain) and comes up with credible explanations not just for why we get distracted and overwhelmed at work but also why our interactions with others can so easily throw us into spaces of threat and fear. My only question is whether we can simply change these patterns by knowing about them. Would it b The first few chapters were interesting, the last half of the book was gold. Essentially, David Rock details all the things that happen in our brain at work (all based on the latest research about the brain) and comes up with credible explanations not just for why we get distracted and overwhelmed at work but also why our interactions with others can so easily throw us into spaces of threat and fear. My only question is whether we can simply change these patterns by knowing about them. Would it be harder for some people than others? But then again, if you're reading a book like this, you are probably someone accustomed to changing and improving the way you think on a regular basis anyway, right?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wally Bock

    One of the five best books I read in 2014 You’ll be a better person and a more effective leader if you buy Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, read it, and do the work of learning to put it into practice. Read my complete review at http://www.threestarleadership.com/le... One of the five best books I read in 2014 You’ll be a better person and a more effective leader if you buy Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, read it, and do the work of learning to put it into practice. Read my complete review at http://www.threestarleadership.com/le...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Darian Onaciu

    If your work involves interacting with people you should read this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aya

    i loved this book, offering simple explanations of the human brain and how to get work done in an efficient way. All situations in the book are relateable to. From when to answer emails, how to handle distractions, the importance of prioritizing and so on. I also like the summaries provided at the end of each scene with the keypoints. I also enjoyed how explained some interactions with people and how they can be interpreted, like the importance of status, how not to be percieved as a threat and i loved this book, offering simple explanations of the human brain and how to get work done in an efficient way. All situations in the book are relateable to. From when to answer emails, how to handle distractions, the importance of prioritizing and so on. I also like the summaries provided at the end of each scene with the keypoints. I also enjoyed how explained some interactions with people and how they can be interpreted, like the importance of status, how not to be percieved as a threat and how to approach someone dealing with a problem. I highly recommend this book

  27. 5 out of 5

    Buddy

    First book of 2018! The metaphor of the brain as a stage and the various trains of thought as actors was entertaining and useful. I enjoyed the scenes portraying how situations went wrong and then the second take after the characters learn how to direct their actors. Highly recommended for anyone who ever feels overwhelmed or has ever been in a conversation that went off track.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mandi Ehman

    The way our brains work - and the way we can change them - fascinates me. I love the format of this book, using fictional moments from a family’s daily activities to demonstrate the role our brain responds to different circumstances, how we can focus better, control our emotions, and better interact with others.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lidija

    The best user manual for the brain I have ever read... Seriously life changing! Explains the neuroscience behind some of our quirky thoughts/actions in such a way that it will stay with your forever. This book should be essential reading, there's so much practical advice here. I took 16 pages of notes and will come back to it frequently.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mehdi Hassan

    Neurochemistry explained in simple language. Explains the effects of certain chemicals in the brain and its links with emotions and feelings. Many practicable steps on how to regulate inner thoughts and detailed explanations as to why it happens. Yet another enlightening book that digs deep into a most complex machine, which is the human being.

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