Hackers Digest #16: Hack Your Brain for Productivity


Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a weekly feature that explores some of the most exciting ideas about productivity that appeared 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 found this week:

1. Be productive without wasting time or money

For some folks, being productive is all about downloading the latest productivity apps and reading up on all the hacks other workers have discovered. But getting some of those apps—at least their premium features—can cost money. Then you have to spend time figuring out how to use them. Can you afford to try out a platform that you might end up hating? There’s good news: Productivity hacks don’t always have to involve wasting a lot of your time or spending a lot of your money. In fact, there are a lot of ways you can increase your productivity that won’t cost a cent. You can meditate. You can go to sleep earlier. The Huffington Post has the rest of the story.

2. How neuroscience ties into productivity

Haven’t you heard that old saying about how humans use about 10 percent of their brains? Well, it’s not true. But it’s safe to say that most of us don’t use our brains as much as we can or should. No, it’s not because we are lazy. It’s because we don’t know how. What if, by learning how your brain works and figuring out how to control different parts of it, you could become a much more effective worker? According to a recent article, willpower plays a huge role in the productivity puzzle. When you understand the chemistry behind willpower, you can become a more productive professional. Head over to InfoQ to learn more.

3. Work in an open office? Here’s how you can stay productive

Working in an open office can be cool. There’s a ton of light. There are people everywhere, and ideas and excitement abound. But working in an open office can make it impossible to do actual work. Just when you’re getting into a task, for example, a coworker will come by to tap you on the shoulder and interrupt you. Luckily, a ton of people work or have worked in open offices. And more than a few of them have figured out how to be most productive in such environments. To be productive in an open office, you should take a breather periodically. You should also buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Find more tips at Greatist.

4. Can female workers be more productive if they’re given leave when they’re menstruating?

Is it harder for females to work when they’re menstruating? I have no idea. But one U.K. company has decided to give its female employees paid time off when they have their periods—all in the name of productivity. Studies show that a vast majority of women experience pain when they menstruate. For some, that pain is unbearable to the point where they’re unable to work. Employees don’t necessarily have to be in the office constantly plugging away to be productive. Time off, where one can relax, is as important a piece to the productivity puzzle as anything else. Will more companies follow suit? Catch the story on Independent.

5. Why paying your employees more won’t always solve productivity problems

Yes, every one of your workers would be happy to get a bump in their paychecks. But if you want to increase your team’s productivity, you’re going to have to get a little more creative than simply throwing cash at the problem. While raises might boost employee happiness and productivity over the short term, their effect can wear off quickly, pushing employees back into a disengaged rut. To make your staff more productive, you have to focus on making them engaged. Money is just one component of employee engagement. The case is made at Madison.

6. How snacking at the office can make you more productive

Can what you munch on over the course of the day have an effect on the quality of your work? One company thinks so. Berkshire Natural is a business that provides healthy snack vending options to businesses in the Boston area. Partner with Berkshire, and the company will make sure your vending machines are stocked at all times. Businesses can then choose whether to pay for their employees’ snacks or have their employees pay for the snacks themselves. Find out what to eat at WCVB.

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