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

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,222 ratings  ·  199 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperBusiness (first published October 1st 2009)
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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...more
Shane
Jan 05, 2010 Shane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
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.
Jennifer
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...more
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...more
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.
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....more
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Jonathan
My default mode for personal development books is skepticism, because it's not really hard to invent a philosphy, tell a few stories, and string together sentences logically enough that your ideas seem plausible. The problem for the reader is distinguishing the really genius approaches and advice from the steaming piles of personal theories. Dang, if only someone would write something with actual research to back it up!

Enter David Rock and hundreds of studies about parts of the brain and how the...more
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...more
Rosy
Apr 17, 2013 Rosy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Your Brain At Work attempts to explain cognitive function by depicting a typical day in the life of a fictional but relatable stressed-out couple, Emily and Paul. Each chapter illustrates a scene in their lives and explores how a few exercises and insights may significantly affect the outcome and their well-being.

I found this book incredibly helpful with reasonable, actionable items one can do to make improvements in his/her productivity. The book never claims to make huge strides, it does not c...more
Steven Grimm
The forays into neurobiology, however high-level and simplified for non-biologist readers, make the concrete suggestions here more credible. There are some useful (though not necessarily completely novel) insights into the limitations of the brain, and techniques for compensating for them. I've found myself using some of these techniques to good effect already. Another thing I didn't quite expect was that while reading this, I could map a lot of the brain behaviors described to larger social beh...more
Russell Simpkins
It was timely for me to read this. It reinforced many techniques I have been neglecting and has made me more self aware. Books like these should be required reading before leading anyone. How to enforce that without harming status or autonomy might be a good follow on book. So many senior leaders focus on solutions that regularly kill morale. My favorite quote in pg. 230 "ineffective leaders tend to make people feel less safe, by being too directive, which attacks status. They are not clear with...more
Luciano Palma
Very pleasant reading, mixing theory with a "practical view" through a "day in the life" approach.
I liked more the first half, maybe because the final of the book tend to become a bit repetitive.
Anyway, very good a reading for understanding why it's so hard for keeping the focus and make some reflection about your own behavior and what you can change to use better your full potential.
The theory presented is important to make you fell you're NOT reading just another self-help book.
John Martindale
I enjoyed it, he covers some things I have not heard in other books on the brain. He spends a good bit of time upon the brains mad hunger for status, confidence, autonomy, relatedness and fairness (S.C.A.R.F) and how this is going to effect our dealings with others and ourselves.
Sal Coraccio
Another great book on the subject of human cognition and filled with useful insights as well as methods to compensate or take advantage of them (mostly to compensate).

The author introduces language that serves to make the mental process more clear; the Stage, Actors, Lighting - etc.

Part of the best take-aways from the book is a better understanding of the limitations of the human mind - all the better to know one's enemy. Once again we're reminded that we are a product of a creature that gave p...more
Gandolfication
Some good information and illustrations, but it is loooooong getting there and could be better in breaking down the information into simple, practical steps people can put into practice. A little too theoretical.
Sara
Jul 25, 2011 Sara rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Read this for work. It was fairly interesting around how emotional spirals build on themselves. Break free! Name your emotions and regain control with calm.
Connie
Fast and easy to read, lots of interesting neuroscience-y explanations for everyday brain functions that helped me understand why it works a certain way.
James Solano
much more practical and involved with the specifics on how one's mind works in relation to everyday occurrences.
Connie
Two days before back-to-back trips to New York and Australia, coming home on the bus with a neighbor and enjoying a lively conversation about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one of my favorite topics, I debarked from the bus at our stop. I then saw the door close and realized my black extra-stuff bag (kindle, glasses, water bottles and more) was still on the bus. In a second I envisioned trying to locate the bus company Lost and Found, when would there be time, how likely would my stuff survive...more
Indy Hart
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long was somewhat interesting. The author, David Rock, touches on a variety of topics about the interactions at work throughout this book.

David uses different methods to present his ideas -- effective, when you have a broad audience -- such as analogy, neurology, and demonstration. At times, this thoroughness felt too redundant for me, but I understood its necessity and was able to simply skim...more
Jami
As sophisticated as we all know our brains are, there are limits to what our minds can do under situations of distraction, anxiety, sleeplessness and the like . This book is perhaps the most accessible and PRACTICAL explanation for how our minds work I've read, and really gets to the crux of what brain research says. It lays out an enjoyable and clear narrative on how to take care of your mind so it can take care of you, and you can best do what you want in a timely fashion (and hopefully with a...more
Katie
Your Brain at Work is an interesting exploration of what neuroscience has discovered about how our brains work: the limitations, changes, fears and strengths. I didn't love the format of the book where the author starts with a story in the life of two characters then pulls apart what happens before finally giving you a reworked version of the story. On the other hand, it made sense in the context of the discussion and gave the author a thread of consistency throughout a book that talks about ver...more
Andre
I’ve become fascinated with the way human brains work. My reading began with On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, and continued with many others like Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and, this book: Your Brain at Work by David Rock.

I recommend the book by David Rock because it brings together many disparate thoughts and ideas on the subject, then hypothesizes and theorizes applications from these better understandings of how brains work. Also, it’s very easy to read this book in spurts (v...more
Torben Rasmussen
David does an excellent job of synthesizing an incredible amount of research in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

Typically many authors leave their ideas unaccounted for scientifically or resort to providing some emperical evidence for the things they propose. This is not the case here.

In an incredibly thorough fashion David manages to explain scientifically the behaviour experienced in most of the challinging situations that individuals and groups face in knowledge work, cooperation and so...more
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