Book Review: “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer

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How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

One of the major roles of the professional organizer is helping clients decide which objects or activities deserve a place in their life, where they should fit them in, which ones they should let go, and how that will take place. It’s helpful, therefore, to have a good understanding of your clients’ decision-making process.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer is a fascinating look at this subject. Although it has a scientific foundation (Lehrer majored in neuroscience at Columbia University), you don’t have to be a scientist to understand and appreciate it.

Through various illustrations of the decision-making process, Lehrer demonstrates the ways that the human brain taps into its rational and emotional sides in different scenarios, ranging from choosing a healthy or unhealthy snack to making an emergency landing while flying an airplane. Some depict real-life situations, such as the thought processes that a World Series of Poker champion goes through, whereas others were experiments which were staged for the purpose of examining how individuals would react.

I received the book as a gift from my sister, after hearing me complain about how hard it is for me to make minor decisions. It’s definitely not a self-help book, and that wasn’t her intention, but one thing I took away from it was that it’s okay to follow my feelings when making decisions, even though my personality type preference is Thinking.

If you like to read and you’re looking for a change from organizing strategies, I would definitely recommend How We Decide.

What other non-organizing books have you found helpful to your client work?

I recommend...

A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Kathy Stinson on November 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Glad the book proved both interesting and useful to you, Janet. Your review makes me want to read it too (hint, hint).

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on November 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Hint taken! I will bring it next time I see you (which allows me to postpone finding a home for it on my bookcase too 😉 )!

  2. Avatar Kathy Stinson on November 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    That’s terrific, Janet. Thanks.

  3. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on January 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Janet, have you read The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz? In any such book I am amazed to read and think about just how many decisions we make each day. How We Decide sounds good too. I’ll put it on my list!

  4. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on January 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Janet-

    This was a favorite book of mine. And as you know, I picked the book up from a crowded bookstore shelf because of the enticing cover with the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream cones on it. Such a clever cover concept tied into the content.

    Am really enjoying the focus this month about decision-making on the PO Organizers’ Blog Carnival. It’s at the core of our work and such an essential topic.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on January 20, 2015 at 9:56 am

      I wonder how many copies of the book were purchased because of those yummy looking ice cream cones? I’m pretty sure that’s what drew my sister’s attention. She actually bought it for me as a bit of a gag gift, teasing me for my indecisiveness, but I was really pleased to find it so interesting, and even relevant to organizers like yourself who read my blog.

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