by Erin McGowan, Teen Volunteer
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
If you’re anything like me, you frequently read books designed to teach you how to improve the way you live your life. Mostly in the hopes that this time, you won’t be awake at midnight the day before an important test wondering how you could have studied differently (spoiler alert: you’ll be up late studying anyway, no matter how many books you read). Whether you’re trying to find the motivation to organize your life, pick up a new hobby, or stay on top of your schoolwork, it always seems easy to find inspiration in the form of a “self-help” novel. When you’re simply reading about ways to become a more efficient, productive, type-A superhuman, anything seems possible-that is, until you close the book.
Developing a new habit or organizing a large part of your life is far easier said than done, which is why so many people prefer to read about ways they can achieve these goals rather than actually putting in the work necessary to achieve them. Many books can inspire us to achieve our goals, but few actually motivate us to achieve them. Fewer still prepare us with the tools we need to do so. Smarter Better Faster by Charles Duhigg is one of these rare few. Rather than tell you specific things you can do to score better on your next test at school, or impress your boss at the next department meeting with how much you’ve accomplished, this book breaks down the factors necessary for success in eight areas of life and business: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data. Duhigg backs up his claims with evidence from an abundance of interviews, papers, and psychological studies conducted by researchers at Google and the Harvard Business School, etc. This evidence also comes from studies conducted in a wide variety of environments, from hospitals to the SNL writers’ room to the basic training camps of the Marine Corps. The variety and depth of information covered in this book makes it a truly interesting, as well as inspiring, read. Overall, my only negative opinion about this book was that the information was sometimes reiterated to the point where reading it began to seem repetitive and tedious, but in the end that was what drove many of the lessons home.
Smarter Better Faster teaches you a new way to approach concepts such as teamwork, focusing, and absorbing data; in other words, concepts that may seem like they should be second nature. This book, however, proves through real studies and stories that if we can teach ourselves how to maximize our efficiency in areas that we typically don’t think about, this will have a domino effect on the rest our our lives. Smarter Better Faster, aside from being a fascinating book, is a revolutionary one in the sense that it provides long-term solutions where other books may have simply offered quick-fix tips. Consequently, that makes this book a worthwhile read for people of any age group looking to finally get their life together.