What does being productive mean? Can working for long hours make you productive? Not really, says a Stanford study, which found that productivity, in fact, drops dramatically after you hit the 40-hour a week work mark. The study found that the average productivity of a person who works 60 hours a week was much lesser than that of someone who worked only 40 hours. So, the key lies in using the time you spend at work in the best possible manner, or, in other words, finding ways to work ‘smarter’. Here are a few TED talks that will give you some tips on how to utilise your time, effort, and resources in the right manner while at work:
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What are the biggest productivity killers? According to Jason Fried, Co-founder of 37signals and author of Rework, our offices or workplaces are what distract us the most. Jason calls them “interruption factories” and says that the concept of a work day doesn’t exist anymore. Most of us can relate to him when he says that we have to seek our quiet zones or private spots in our offices if we really wanted to get work done. Jason says that meetings and managers are the biggest distractors, and suggests some solutions to keep this to the minimum.
Does working well make you happy? Or, does being happy make you work well? This is the question that Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc. and positive psychology researcher, poses in this talk. This entertaining and insightful talk on how staying positive can make you happier and lead to more productivity at work is backed by credible scientific and case studies. Shawn tells us that productivity can only be a by-product of a happy and creative brain and urges us to “change the lens, change the reality.”
Meetings are definitely not a hit amongst TED speakers, the reason being that they are one of the biggest time sucks at the workplace. To be precise, unnecessary meetings take up almost 31 hours of your average work month. To make meetings more productive, Nilofer Merchant, business consultant and author of The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy, suggests having ‘walking meetings’. In this talk, she spells out the advantages of having meetings out in the open and how it drives fresh thinking.
Artist and designer Stefan Sagmeister, famous for having designed album art for musicians like the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed, has a unique style of working. After every seven years of working, he closes down his studio and takes a year-long break. During this break, he pursues his own side projects, but those which are not related to his work. By following this seven to one sabbatical model, he says that he returns to work rejuvenated and more creative. He is also happy and content that he is able to take part in other innovative projects without feeling guilty about juggling too many things at once.
The crux of most of these talks is to keep distractions at bay and to take breaks to keep yourself energised to work. These are, in fact, the cornerstones of productivity. In other words, focus and rest in balance are what will determine how productive you are at work. So, this was our list of talks that inspired us to stay on track and work smarter. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments section below.