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Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  28,363 ratings  ·  2,205 reviews
A new book that explores the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think—rather than what you think—can transform your life.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Random House (first published March 2016)
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Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading Duhigg's first book - 'The Power of Habit' - and loving it, I raced to read this one as soon as I got my hands on an advance reader's copy through NetGalley. 'The Power of Habit' had an active influence on my life and changed how I approach trying to achieve my goals, so I expected great things from 'Smarter Faster Better' as well.

Alas, it failed to deliver. At the end of reading this book, I'm actually a bit confused about what it was about: instead of having one cohesive theme,
Donna Luu
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Some of the anecdotes are interesting, but the book is much too long. Let me save you many hours: making choices improves your motivation; if you're a manager, make it possible for team members to participate and make suggestions; use mental models to increase focus; use both short and long term goals; use forecasting/probability to improve decision making; improve creativity by mixing things up; and if you want to learn better, use the information and make it hard to absorb (it will stick bette ...more
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book you should read on a plane. As part of the chapter on Focus, Charles Duhigg brings his stellar storytelling skills to describing both the final minutes of Air France Flight 447 (which crashed into the Atlantic in 2009), and Qantas Flight 32 which "investigators would later deem ... the most damaged Airbus A380 ever to land safely. Multiple pilots would try to re-create [pilot] de Crespigny's recovery in simulators and would fail every time." It's gripping stuff and I was super ...more
John Matthews
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
It's hard to resist a book entitled "Smarter, Faster, Better," arguably a more marketable title than "Dumber, Slower, Inferior." The latter though is a more accurate summation of how I felt after slogging through this.

If you're fond of anecdotal contradictions from which insightful lessons – let alone actionable takeaways– are scant, have at it.

Take, for instance, Mr. Duhigg's retelling of Golda Meir's Director of Military Intelligence. His clarity, decisiveness, and ability to separate intelli
Amir Tesla
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: productivity
This book could be written in less than 100 pages. But the way Duhig weaves the ideas into relevant stories helps a lot with the solidification of the material.
So much so that after reading the book I can recite all the key ideas easily.

This book is (supposed to be) about productivity. The first four chapters is allotted to the subject but the rest of the book is mostly about effective management, team work and how to spark innovation.

I enjoyed the book and have learned many important ideas f
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, business
Kudos for using great stories to get across key concepts. If you want to be productive, you'll need to make some key choices that other people don't seem to know are possible. Those choices include how you choose to exercise control, connecting even the most mundane tasks with bigger purposes, learning to build mental models of the future and analyze whether they came into being, and more. But don't take my word for it. Instead, make these concepts concrete and part of your repertoire by reading ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fav-psychology
Wow. This book was actually amazingly interesting to me. I will forever go through my life with what I have found in this book. A must read!!!

It's similar to Malcolm Gladwell style books where the author makes a point and walks you through studies that prove that point. In this case, this book is all about how improving your productivity levels and becoming smarter thinkers.

My expectations were high because I enjoyed the Power of Habit but at the same time my expectations were skeptical because
Michael Payne
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Be the change” was Gandhi’s enduring advice to realize our ideas through action. In Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg gives us a roadmap for just that.

Duhigg spells out why we should all have a “bias toward action” as a precursor to creative results. He gives compelling data of how visualizing our results, in fact help us achieve the desired outcomes.

Every team and every manager should read with particular note the Google insights from their People Operations’ studies. If your manager talks
Aman Mittal
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explained why a person does what he does. He is out with a new book this time, entitled— Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive and applies same relentless level of details, with numerous research studies and interviews, makes this one too, highly informative.

Unlike The Power of Habit, Smarter Faster Better offers a variety of chapters, each different from the other in terms conceptual illustration and every chapter’s locus is on the key idea
Arjun Subramanian
A compilation of old ideas and insights recycled into a book. Charles Duhigg did not deliver. Every chapter was longer than it needed to be and filled with feel good filler material and stories. The book was saved from a 1 or 2 star rating by chapter 6 on decision making which touched on the very important and less often covered topic of forecasting. I was surprised to see an insightful introduction to thinking about the future as probability streams. There is a whole book there that I wish had ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone reading Power of Habit
I'm always wary of second books. You can hear the publisher "this book is blowing off the shelves, have you got a followup?", and feel the the effort and speed "you gotta get this out while you're hot!". The writer is doing a book tour for the first book and trying to get chapter drafts done from the hotel room.
However, this follow-up to the fantastic The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business is also excellent. High impact stories are the real world examples (literally high
Some ideas were better developed by other authors, but there was plenty of interesting anecdotes and insights to make this book worth reading.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Following his previous book, “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg (New York Times) has written an interesting book on productivity and success at home and at the workplace. Taking real life case studies, Duhigg examines what it means to be productive and common trends in smart, productive, successful people. To this end, Duhigg gives eight common trends that promote productivity. For motivation, he explains that having an internal locus of control (believing control comes from the inside, not th ...more
Mario Tomic
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you're a big fan of the book "The Power of Habit" you're going to love Smarter Faster Better. It's a very practical summary of ideas on productivity and how to organize your life to manage your time and energy more efficiently. My favorite part of the book is the one covering self-determination theory from the science of motivation. The 2 sentences that I would like to point out are: "The trick to motivation, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have ...more
Do you enjoy reading disjointed out-of-sequence storylines?

Do you enjoy reading anecdotes about tragedies and phenomena that have a tenuous connection to whichever point the author is trying to convey?

Do you enjoy asking yourself questions such as "what exactly is this book about", "what is the overall narrative here", and "that is interesting, I didn't know that about Air France 447 but could everything that happened really be attributable to the failure of the pilots to create a mental model"?
Brandon Forsyth
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
A totally great book that does nothing for me personally. I can see people loving this, but it's just not my cup of hot cocoa. There's lots of fascinating stories that drive home the points Duhigg is trying to express, but there's almost too many - I found myself getting lost in multiple narratives, and the book sometimes feels like a thrilling rollercoaster that stops to examine some interesting studies and pore over analytics before getting you back to saving that hostage or finding out how to ...more
Melania 🍒

I appreciated the examples in here a lot. The presented cases are super interesting and the way the author linked them all together was super cool. I flew through it, once started I didn’t want to put down the book.
But thinking back on it I realize that the life changing advises aren’t so life changing after all and I didn’t got much to apply on my day to day life. But maybe that’s just a me thing. I’m still happy I got a change to read it.
Mar 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ugh, this book is so good, though it's been one long reminder of everything I'm doing wrong at work and in my personal life (but mostly at work). I'm reading through it again and taking copious notes, but there's a nice appendix at the back that does it for you. I also now know what Frozen is about so that's another plus. ...more
Yesenia Cash
I enjoyed the power of habit much much much more than this.
Liza Fireman
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this after loving The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. A book that I loved and gave 5 stars to. This one was as far as day and night.

This book was not as well written, and did not wrap the topics well, but that is the least of the problems. Even the story about Frozen wasn't engaging (and I have read about Pixar in so many other books already). I think the main thing about this book that it feels like the advice you get for your diet. You already know what you ne
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Unedited notes and quotes:
You know when you're stuck in traffic on the freeway and you see an exit approaching and you want to take it even though you know it will take longer to get home? That's our brains getting excited about taking control. It feels better because you feel like you're in charge. A useful method for triggering motivation: Find a choice, almost any choice that allows you to exert control... Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm always surprised by how much I like these kinds of books -- they're not easy to write, not easy to make compelling. And Duhigg does another good job with this one. What does it take for a person to be productive, for a team to be productive?

These are questions I think about a lot and I think he offers some good insights through a lot of good narratives. If you're looking for a list of bullet points, you may not find something so neat and pat. But there are some ideas in here about what one
I really enjoyed Duhigg's The Power of Habits so this book has been on my list for a while. I was not disappointed. A great book of stories that illustrate how to become more productive. My favorite part was the Appendix that gives practical tips on how to implement the ideas in the book. Looking forward to his next project. ...more
Antti Värtö
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a pretty productive person, all told, but I have the usual problems everyone else has: sometimes I just don't find the motivation to do something I know should be done, but doesn't come with a deadline attached; I procrastinate if the task seems too nebulous and/or large; I have ideas for projects but I can't decide where to begin - and if I'm uncertain whether the project will ever even be completed, I'm not sure how to decide if I should use my precious time on that, given that the time co ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Main takeaways:

• A sense of control, self-determination, and authority enables motivation. Maintain an “internal locus of control” — assume responsibility for your successes AND failures rather than shifting accountability. Congratulate others by complimenting their self-directed choices rather than their innate capacities. Make small, seemingly menial tasks meaningful by linking them to your overarching goals, and motivation will follow.

• Group leaders should create a climate fostering psycholo
Apr 04, 2016 rated it liked it
What happened here? Duhigg's last book, The Power of Habit, was a really tight, focused examination of the psychology of goals and habits. It had a coherent thesis that each chapter related to and built on. Smarter Faster Better, however, feels like an unconnected dump of ideas.

The sales pitch is that the book will tell you how to become better (and smarter and faster) and more productive. When you look at the table of contents, you see that each chapter addresses a productivity topic, like mot
Razvan Rogoz
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read at least two dozen books on productivity - ranging from GTD by David Allen to OPA by Tony Robbins. Most of them contain systems for managing your task flow and some of the better ones, contain ideas on single-tasking, morning rituals and goal setting.

This book is like a fresh of breath air. It contains advice from big data to what makes productive teams, from proper use of metrics (hint: engage with them) to how taking ownership over actions can make one more motivated.

The concepts are
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing like an author who comes back in exactly the same form they had four years ago. It's so refreshing to see someone pull it off again.

So here's Charles Duhigg of Power-Of-Habit-Target-Knows-You're-Pregnant fame. And he's back to make us all smarter, faster, and better. And how does he teach us? With stories. Terrifying, heartwarming, creative, wonderful stories of people figuring out tough problems like landing severely damaged planes or sending inner-city kids to college. Every se
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With “the Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg gave us accessible insight into human habit forming behaviours, and how they could be used in marketing products and messages. With his second book, “Smarter Faster Better”, he gives us a roadmap on how to build effective, motivated, and functional teams. Irrespective of the industry, goals, and pressures which we all face in our daily lives, this book gives insight on how we can achieve our goals with more efficiency and less friction. Using facts, scie ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
‘Smarter, Faster, Better’ – a look at how individuals, teams, companies and families can improve on their productivity.
Written in the usual step 1. Tell a story, step 2. Tell another story. Step 3. Briefly cover how these relate to a sub-topic of productivity. Step 4. Conclude stories and relate them. It’s more story telling, than actually covering the topics, but this engages better than just plain information.

I listened to the audiobook passively while traversing Spain. I can't say I remember
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