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Economist shares secrets to having a good day at work

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

We all want to be more productive at work. An overwhelming schedule of answering a steady stream of emails, meeting deadlines, tending to colleagues, and sitting through endless meetings can make any worker want to crawl under her desk.

A new book by economist and former McKinsey partner Caroline Webb attempts to address the stress so many of us feel with an aim to make us feel more fulfilled. Her book, “How to Have a Good Day,” uses recent findings from behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience to offer practical strategies to achieve what we all want: a good day at work and beyond. (The book even piqued the interest of actor Ethan Hawke, who, after watching Webb’s interview with Yahoo Finance, asked for a copy. Hawke was in our studios for another reason.)

"So many of us end up drifting through our days, letting it happen to us rather than taking control," Webb said, adding that based on scientific studies, we have more control than we think. In other words, the more that we understand about the brain and why we think and feel the way we do, the more we realize that things that seem random are actually under our control, according to Webb.

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Brain science suggests that you can really only process a certain amount of what you can see and hear. "You're only consciously noticing some of it," she said. We are not objective beings: "We are experiencing an edited, subjective version of reality all the time... Whatever is top of mind for you, your brain will say that's important to consciously notice and filter out the rest."

In her book, Webb notes the importance of priorities as a first step, setting an intentional direction for the day by choosing filters and reinforcing your intentions. "I do advocate taking a more mindful and deliberate approach going into your day." What matters most to you? That will shape what you notice and will redirect your energy toward that.

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