Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Smarter Faster Better: Yorkshire Powerhouse Score 7/10

When you get to the last section, it’s a real relief from the fear that you might have missed the point.

Who will gain the most from reading this book?

Individuals from all walks of life who are concerned about personal productivity, effectiveness and decision making.

Core Content

Yorkshire Powerhouse reviews this book at the request of Emma Young, Media Assistant at Carat, thanks for pointing the way Emma.

Charles Duhigg writes in an extremely engaging way and the central theme of the book is his problem with accommodating all the tasks and opportunities he faced in the time he had available, a problem common to many and certainly most who would buy this book.

The stories and anecdotes that Duhigg uses to illustrate his book are fascinating, the reader finds themselves drawn in to the stories that contrast the skills of people from such diverse backgrounds as airline pilots and car assembly workers. The stories are great, brilliantly researched and developed in such a way as to put you in the head of the main characters. The anecdotes remain with the reader well after the book has been read, and it’s difficult not to find oneself repeating the most vivid stories as you go through daily life.

It is true to say, though, that it can be difficult to discern the thread between different areas of the book, and it is really easy to lose the common theme in the book. Sometimes this can be because an individual story and the lesson it gives is so powerful, but at other times it can be as though the author has found a good story in his research and he wanted to include it, although it wasn’t really necessary.

It is actually the very last section that draws everything together when the author starts to talk about his own improved work habits and its real relief because by then you begin to fear that you are going to be left enthused and having been engrossed, but also having missed the point.

Charles Duhigg actually entitles this last section the ‘Appendix’, if you are one of those people usually misses this out, please don’t.

  • Motivation becomes easier when we transform a task into a choice. Doing so gives us a sense of control. Connect the task to something you really care about.
  • Smart Goals; a subject that has been well covered previously, but has relevance in this context.
  • Focus; Envision what will happen, in what order it will happen. Visualise the obstacles, how they will occur and how you will overcome them. If you have a story in your head about what will happen it’ll be easier to focus when your plan hits real life.
  • Decision making; visualise multiple futures. By driving yourself to imagine various possibilities or outcomes, some of which may be contradictory, you’ll be better equipped to make wise choices.

Duhigg also covers aspects of managing people and teams.

  • Manage the how, not the who of teams.
  • If you are leading a team, think about the messages your behaviour and choices has on the team. Are you rewarding the loudest people or encouraging equality.
  • Employees work smarter and better when they are committed to an outcome.
  • Encouraging innovation by combining old ideas in new ways.

The section on absorbing data is particularly striking for today’s world, when we encounter new information we should force ourselves to do something with it and use it, in however small a way.

Could a Yorkshire perspective improve this book?

A bit more plain language and signposting on how the stories in the book relate to real people, in real daily lives.

One final caveat if you are reading this book on a Kindle or similar. You hit the Appendix at 65% and the end at 68%. There is a real ‘oh no’ moment when you hit the Appendix, think you have finished with a complete lack of conclusion. It is then a real relief when you realise that the Appendix is of value in drawing a conclusion, but still the book finishes leaving you feeling cheated.

Review Takeaway:

Visualise multiple futures, good and bad, it helps to make decisions as you reach forks in the road. Yorkshire Powerhouse, Book Reviews

Click here for a quick link to purchase Smarter Faster Better from Amazon.

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