Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb, 2016

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In How to Have a Good Day, Caroline Webb—economist and former partner at consulting powerhouse McKinsey—shows us how to use recent findings from behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience to transform our approach to everyday working life. Her science-based techniques have boosted workplace performance and enjoyment for people in hundreds of organizations. Here, Webb shows us how to build these powerful tools into our own daily routines, to give us more control over the quality of our days.
The book is arranged around seven practices that are central to having a good day: setting the right priorities, making productive use of our time, having effective conversations, doing our very best work, achieving great personal impact, being resilient to setbacks, and sustaining our energy. Throughout, Webb teaches us how to be at our best even under pressure, and equips us to handle common challenges such as co-worker conflicts and difficult deadlines.
Filled with real stories of people who have used the Webb’s insights to improve their working lives, and drawing on cutting-edge ideas from the latest research in behavioral science, How to Have a Good Day is the book people wanted to read when they finished Blink and Thinking Fast and Slow, and were looking for practical ways to apply what they had learned to their own lives and careers.

(368 pages)

I'm not exactly sure how I thought I'd be a good person to read this book.

I mean, it's geared toward adults struggling as they face the daily grind of their office jobs. I'm a seventeen-year-old homeschooled high school student who sees an average of three people (excluding my family) a weekday - none of whom are actually my age. I'm not exactly drowning in office politics! But I liked the description of "science-based techniques" that could "transform our approach to everyday working life," and there weren't any other books in the program that I desperately wanted, so I requested How to Have a Good Day.

And it took me almost two full months to get through. For a girl who can read a 350-page novel in two and a half hours, this is really pathetic. What happened? Well . . . I got bored. Like, really bored. Her advice is actually really insightful, and there were parts that I could apply to myself, but so much of the content didn't apply to me that I had a hard time getting through it. I wound up leaving it by my bed and reading a chapter right before I went to sleep, when I was ready to start slowing myself down. Then today I finished the last third of the book all in one sitting, because I wanted to just get it done once and for all.

But honestly, it's not even that bad of a book. It's good, it really is! Webb's advice is thought-provoking, and I loved how she backed up all of her points with solid scientific evidence from legitimate studies. It was also cool to see how she combined studies and phenomena I've encountered over the years to explain human behavior. My favorites were when she explained how we make choices at the margin (an AP Micro topic), and when she talked about how the REM phase of sleep is the most restful and helpful phase for rebooting our brains. It was really cool to read a book that was so clearly not one of those quack science advice books. As the daughter of a real scientist, I can't stand those! This one, though, is full of hard data that really makes her points extremely valid and believable (though of course I can't totally vouch for them since I can't put them to the test).

Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm not much help in deciding whether to get this book. It made for an interesting and engagingly-written book, and I really will try to work on knowing myself and following her advice for moderating my interactions with others, but I'm not really the best judge of her techniques. As soon as I'm done writing this review, though, I'm planning on handing the book off to my father - he only recently began working in industry and is still adjusting to life in a bureaucracy, so he's pretty much the ideal target for this book. If I can actually get him to read it, I'll be sure to let you know whether he thinks it helps him! In the meantime, let me know in the comments below what your go-to tactic is for getting through a hard day.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program.

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