Hackers Digest #5: Technology is Killing Your Productivity


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Hackers Digest, a weekly feature that covers some of the most fascinating ideas relating to productivity that came out over the past several days. We explore every nook and cranny of the Internet to find the six best hacks and productivity stories of the week so you don’t have to.

Here’s what we’ve got in this week’s installment:

1. Stop multitasking.

In a piece on Entrepreneur, Shawn Carolan, founder and CEO of Handle, a company that builds technology that optimizes workflow, shares five productivity lessons he’s learned from his buddies in Silicon Valley. Among them: Don’t multitask. While everyone works differently and some might not agree with his approach, Carolan’s reasoning is clear: When you multitask, by definition, you’re devoting less than 100 percent of your attention on any given task at hand. While you may be able to get more things accomplished simultaneously, the results likely won’t be as strong. Read the full piece here.

2. To be productive, you need to learn how to overcome resistance.

As the first-time marathon runner passes mile marker 18, he or she might hit a brick wall wondering how the hell they’ll be able to keep going for 8.2 more miles. A writer working on a novel might be absolutely stumped after finishing the eighth chapter of a 25-chapter book. A band whose debut album was a hit might have a hard time trying to write new songs that’ll be even better. In any creative process, you’re bound to encounter some kind of resistance somewhere along the way. The truly productive folks are able to overcome that resistance every time. Head over to The Business Journals to read about how you can better overcome the resistance you’ll face.

3. We expect technologies to increase our productivity. But they can also hold us back if we’re not careful.

Technology has certainly transformed the way we work, making tons of tasks incredibly easier. But with no shortages of devices, apps and platforms to choose between, if we don’t play our cards right, we could end up overwhelming ourselves.

An illustration: To book a meeting in the past, parties would call each other or coordinate via email to pick a mutually agreed upon time that works best for all involved. Nowadays, people can book meetings with you based on what’s most convenient to them thanks to your real-time cloud scheduling app. But what works for them might not work best for you, particularly if the time they choose will impede your workflow. So inadvertently, in this example, technology works against you. This concept and a handful of others are explored in depth over on Forbes.

4. The happier your corporate culture is, the more productive your team will be.

Chances are you’ve had a pretty terrible boss at one time or another in your life. Maybe it was the coffee shop manager at the first gig you had in high school. Maybe it was your first boss at your entry-level white collar job. Suffice it to say that individual didn’t really inspire confidence in his or her staff. On the flipside, great managers—those who focus on building positive work cultures and sustaining them—encourage their team members to rise to the occasion on a daily basis. A recent Harvard Business Review piece explores new research that demonstrates a positive work culture can have a profoundly positive effect not only on employee morale and productivity, but also on the bottom line. Read more here.

5. Want your team to be more productive? Consider flexible schedules.

Thanks to the evolution of technology and the rise of cloud computing and mobility, today’s workers are able to get their jobs done anytime from anywhere. Though that’s the case, many companies are still embracing outdated approaches to work, forcing their employees to be in the office between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. But forward-thinking organizations are increasingly embracing the concept of flexible schedules, i.e., the idea that employees should be able to pick and choose when and where they work. So long as they’re getting their jobs done well and aren’t missing any deadlines or meetings, does it really matter when they’re in the office? Read more at The Guardian.

6. Or better yet, consider truncating the workday.

Earlier this year, a village in Sweden made headlines when it enacted a six-hour workday. The idea is quite simple: Workers will be more productive if they work less, because they’ll have more energy to invest in their jobs when they are on the clock. When you stop to think about it, it makes sense: How many mornings have you come into the office only to stare blankly at your computer for an hour while you sip your coffee and read the news? If we can work more effectively in less time and be more productive, why shouldn’t we truncate the workday? Workers in the U.K. are mulling a similar shift, and you can read about it at The London Economic.

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