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Book Review: Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

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Smarter Faster Better
, by Charles Duhigg, is a book that will get you excited about productivity! Using powerful anecdotes (worth sharing in your next keynote address) from the worlds of theater, movie-making, poker, aviation, medicine, education and business, insights are gleaned into the factors that impact attention, motivation and productivity.

One of the most immediately useful ideas, drawn from the author’s own experiences, is how to create a more productive to-do list. If you are a busy person that gets a lot done each day but never seems to find the time to work on your “heart’s desire”; that book, painting or trip that never seems to materialize- then this is the book for you. Duhigg walks you through the steps needed to make your “stretch goals” a reality using “s.m.a.r.t. goals.” Duhigg’s updated to-do list is simple to implement and will allow you to complete more creative projects.

As a teacher, I most resonated with the chapters of the book that emphasized the importance of choice and voice in impacting motivation and productivity. Businesses mentioned in the book found greater success as executives gave voice to employees that were closest to problems and allowed them agency to find solutions. These sections served as important reminders to infuse choice and voice for all students in every day’s learning in order to increase student motivation, engagement and achievement.

As a writer, I was inspired by the chapters about the creative processes that gave birth to “Frozen”, a Disney movie, and the iconic play, “West Side Story.” The depth of struggle, despair and time that went into each of these projects was very comforting, as well as the torturous path that led to creative breakthroughs. In light of the intimate description of the work behind the genius and artistic vision, I will now look at a blank page or a storyline that isn’t working with different eyes.

As a team member, the sections about the importance of people being heard, respected and allowed to speak freely, as well as the importance of having norms for successful team interactions is not a new message but bears repeating.

Smarter Faster Better was one of those audiobooks that soon made me sorry that I hadn’t bought the hardcover to keep in my bookshelf and pull out for ready reference! However, being able to listen to all those wonderful anecdotes, learning that I could clip and bookmark audio clips for future reference and finding the book’s end notes in the Resources section of Charles Duhigg’s website, eased my pain.

In a world where we all have never been busier while getting less and less done, Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg gives us not only hope and inspiration, but practical solutions to make our lives more productive, and most importantly, more meaningful.

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