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Your Brain at Work

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  4,150 ratings  ·  255 reviews
Meet Emily and Paul, the parents of two young children. Emily is a newly promoted executive in a large corporation, while Paul has his own business as a 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. For them, just staying ahead of the storm has become a se ...more
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Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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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.
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
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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
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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.
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
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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
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.
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
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
Polaris
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
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Jenny Zhou
This is an essential read for everyone. It’s possibly my favorite non-fiction book in terms of how it combines scientific research, accessible language, and practical application to immediately apply to our daily working lives. I found the framework of following a married couple throughout their work days to be extremely effective (narrative of a work scenario, followed by scientific explanation of what was happening inside their minds, followed by a reimagined narrative of how they could have h ...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
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
Natalie
I enjoyed the format of this book. Discussing how our brains work through a story of two characters with deadlines, meetings, smartphones and kids made the content accessible for me.
Gwendoline Van
More awareness of how the brain works means having more effective strategies for working around pitfalls, inefficiencies, and other mind tricks.

Favorite bits of advice:

Everyone has a director, the voice within your brain -- focus on the mind itself. This attention helps change the function, and ultimately, the structure of the brain.

- Conscious thinking involves deep complex biological interaction in the brain among neurons
- Mental processes all take varying degrees of effort, like prioritizin
...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.
Tony
I have long suspected that much of the reason why things "are the way they are" is because of human psychology. And a large part of why I DON'T understand why they "are the way they are" is because I do not understand human psychology. Sure, I've had the basic Psychology 101 class in college. But that's about as far as I have gone.

Do you want to understand how the human brain works? Do you want to understand what you need to do to help maintain focus and motivation in a challenging job? Do you w
...more
Payam
An amazing book detailing your brain's processes and patterns in order to harness your full potential at work. This books references numerous studies and uses the latest understandings of the brain to provide you with strategies to be effective in your day-to-day work activities. Furthermore, it dwells into social interactions and explains brain processes in such scenarios as well.

I highly recommend this 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.
Suhrob
A deeply researched and well written book on the neuropsychology of several everyday, mostly work related, cognitive process (attention, anxiety, motivation, expectation, collaboration).

Generally really good, although I'm sure it suffers from the "A study has shown..." syndrome, where a lot of stuff doesn't quite replicate, has smaller effect sizes and/or there is a bunch of complicated confounders... but in any case I found it to be a really accessible review of research.

Maybe one further probl
...more
Mr.S
Very thorough research on the brain at work. There are many considerations regarding how to optimize your productivity guided by a better understanding of your brain. For example, the brain is almost like a muscle. So, if you use it for three hours straight in one sitting, you cannot expect the same performance from it the rest of the day. People naturally understand that with exercise. No one tries to run for three hours and then expect his/her muscles to still perform normally the rest of the ...more
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.
Sergey Shishkin
Very actionable. I liked the format of the book being a progression of realistic scenarios building on top of each other and the research insights as the book unfolds.
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“New lovers tend to “lose their minds” and do all sorts of crazy things in the heat of the moment. One study showed that new lovers’ brains have a lot in common with people on cocaine. Dopamine is sometimes called the “drug of desire.” Too much dopamine, from being “high with excitement,” 1 likes
“More people than ever are being paid to think, instead of just doing routine tasks. Yet making complex decisions and solving new problems is difficult for any stretch of time because of some real biological limits on your brain. Surprisingly, one of the best ways to improve mental performance is to understand these limits. In act 1, Emily discovers why thinking requires so much energy, and develops new techniques for dealing with having too much to do. Paul learns about the space limits of his brain, and works out how to deal with information overload. Emily finds out why it’s so hard to do two things at once, and rethinks how she organizes her work. Paul discovers why he is so easily distracted, and works on how to stay more focused. Then he finds out how to stay in his brain’s “sweet spot.” In the last scene, Emily discovers that her problem-solving techniques need improving, and learns how to have breakthroughs when she needs them most.” 0 likes
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