Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” as Want to Read:
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  8,672 ratings  ·  566 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, 246 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Harper Business (first published October 1st 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Your Brain at Work, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Trevor Andrews I have yet to meet a young person that has benefited from taking any drugs. Dopamine is a natural chemical and forcibly introducing more to the brain …moreI have yet to meet a young person that has benefited from taking any drugs. Dopamine is a natural chemical and forcibly introducing more to the brain I would find worrying. I wonder why this young person is on the run and I do not see how it would be of any help.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,672 ratings  ·  566 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-book-list
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
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brain-mind
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
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Chris Johnson
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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.
Clare Cannon
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Vicki Gibson
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alexandru Lapusan
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must read. Heck, it should be taught in schools everywhere.
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
Bjoern Rochel
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, eng-mgmt
My book of the year. Very grounded, informative and tangible. Highly recommended
Andrei Zgirouski
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Liad Magen
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found the methods described in the book very helpful. I can clearly notice a difference since I've started practicing its recommendations.
Yaroslav Ganin
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: life, brainssss
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
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter House
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Hodge
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Wally Bock
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Darian Onaciu
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
If your work involves interacting with people you should read this book.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mandi Ehman
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Mehdi Hassan
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives
  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It
  • Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See the World
  • Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
  • 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
  • Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
  • Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
  • Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen
  • Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life
  • The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them
  • The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact
  • The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance
  • The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • Красная таблетка-2. Вся правда об успехе
  • Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
See similar books…

Related Articles

For more than a decade, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world-renowned astrophysicist and host of the popular radio and Emmy-nominated...
77 likes · 13 comments
“We all often think about what’s easy to think about, rather than what’s right to think about.” 6 likes
“Mindfulness is a habit, it’s something the more one does, the more likely one is to be in that mode with less and less effort…it’s a skill that can be learned. It’s accessing something we already have. Mindfulness isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is to remember to be mindful.” 4 likes
More quotes…