Smarter Tomorrow

From The Wall Street Journal:

Working at home has led to widescale experimentation in productivity. Many workers, no longer tied to central offices, are trying new schedules, locations, routines and work-life arrangements. But this has been a haphazard process, nothing like a controlled scientific study. Those interested in adding rigor to their self-improvement journeys have no better place to turn than “Smarter Tomorrow: How 15 Minutes of Neurohacking a Day Can Help You Work Better, Think Faster, and Get More Done,” by the science educator and advocate Elizabeth Ricker. (Neurohacking, to put it simply, is finding shortcuts to a better-functioning brain).

At the outset, Ms. Ricker contrasts her project with traditional self-help, in which one copies an authority’s example and doesn’t measure the results. Instead, she offers what she calls “The Neurohacker’s Creed”: Don’t assume the same thing works for everyone, pick “hacks” and evaluations carefully, and find a partner so you can help each other. There’s also “the neurohacker’s ladder,” F-S-T-R: Focus on your goals, select an experiment, train and reflect on the outcome and next steps.

Similar organizing structures permeate her upbeat book, which reads like a combination of a science book (including both fun findings and neuroanatomical terms), a workbook (presenting goals and takeaways in each chapter, and a section for experiment recipes), a memoir (detailing her own self-help sojourn) and an encouraging email from a smart friend (full of exclamations points and apologies for puns).

“Smarter” can mean lots of things. Ms. Ricker interprets the term ecumenically, tackling four broad categories of improvement. First, there’s “the new IQ,” by which she means executive functioning, a combination of working memory (juggling things in your head), inhibition (resisting temptation) and mental flexibility (quickly shifting focus or synthesizing ideas). Second, “the new EQ,” or emotional self-regulation—the ability to monitor, assess and modify your feelings. Third, memory and learning, whether for events, facts or skills. Fourth, creativity. Each can be assessed with simple tasks online or in the book, and the author also offers surveys with which to track two more holistic outcomes: the ability to complete to-do lists and life satisfaction.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (The link should work for non-subscribers, but the WSJ may cause it to rot after a few clicks. PG apologizes for the paywall, but hasn’t figured out a way around it.)

4 thoughts on “Smarter Tomorrow”

  1. $14.99 on Kindle.

    Always makes me wonder whether the big publishers have the same reward structure that makes an indie not price an ebook over $9.99.

    And how much of that the author gets (not counting the agent).

    Also makes me very reluctant to buy.

    • Agreed, A. I was all ready to buy the book before I saw the outrageous Kindle price. I still may break down and purchase it because the preview I downloaded seemed to be really good, but I may wait for awhile to see what shows up under used books. The audiobook costs less than twice the price of the ebook. My library seems to get a lot of recently-published audiobooks before printed or ebooks of the same title, so I’ll keep an eye out there as well.

  2. It’s interesting how many ways they can find to re-write Napoleon Hill. They always update the keywords to keep up with the popular sciences of the decade even as the what-to-do advice never changes.

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