Hackers Digest #31: Ditch Your Smartphone


Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that highlights some of the more cutting-edge ideas about productivity that were published 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’s in store this week:

1. Your smartphone is making you incredibly unproductive.

Ever since smartphones came onto the scene, pundits have told us that the devices would make us incredibly more productive workers. Instead of twiddling your thumbs on the train during your commute, you’d be tackling work emails and collaborating on projects with other coworkers—all thanks to your smartphone. When something sounds too good to be true, it often is. According to a new CareerBuilder study, smartphones are really stifling productivity. A whopping 75% of executives feel as though their employees lose at least two hours every day due to begin distracted—which includes each of them staring at their smartphone. So maybe mobile devices aren’t really helping us do our jobs after all. Maybe we need them to post on social media, check out who’s in what movie on the IMDB app and send that super sweet text message to our buddies. The story is over at Network World.

2. Too much data is hindering our decision-making capabilities.

The age of big data promises us the ability to make much more informed decisions. Instead of throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what sticks, for example, marketers can leverage large swaths of data that indicates, without a doubt, which campaigns or initiatives are most likely to be successful. Quite simply, data enables us to make decisions with confidence. But as technology continues to evolve and more and more data is generated and stored, the promise of data begins to fade. It turns out that the age of big data might be dead on arrival as today’s professionals are simply drowning in information. While data can help us make better decisions, too much data can make it impossible to make up our minds. Head over to Fast Company for the story.

3. Head to a coffee shop to boost your productivity.

Whenever you go to a coffee shop, you see people who appear to be working. Are they just trying to get out of the house—or are they on to something? It turns out that productivity can be contagious in certain settings. When you head to a coffee shop and see a bunch of people tackling their own work, you become inspired to tackle your own, so the thinking goes. Unable to leave the office or the house to get to a coffee shop? Not a problem. Believe it or not, there are actually apps that are specifically designed to mimic the coffee shop experience. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that simply listening to the sounds of a coffee shop can make you more productive. Tech.Co has the scoop.

4. The surefire way to become a more productive worker.

Everyone tells you what you can do to be more productive. Go to sleep earlier. Drink more coffee. Exercise during the day. Sleep in three-hour increments. Eat seven times a day. The list goes on and on. While every single productivity hack has likely helped at least one person become more productive, no two people are the same. So what works for someone might not work for someone else. What, then, about this surefire way to become a more productive worker? It’s actually quite simple: Try a zillion different routines until you find the one that works the best. Wear many hats, and you’ll eventually find one that fits. For more, head to The Huffington Post.

5. Are small rewards the key to productivity?

Common sense might tell you that if you want to make your employees more productive, you should shower them with gifts. But instead of giving your workers huge bonuses, it turns out that small rewards are a much more appropriate motivator. A recent study revealed that students who received “credits” (i.e., points) in an online course were much more likely to engage with course work. These kinds of credits are “small rewards”—congratulations if you will. On the flipside, studies have found that providing lavish gifts to your workers—like huge bonuses or a surprise trip somewhere exotic—can actually be demotivating. Who knew? The rest of the story is over at Tech.Co.

6. How small business owners can stay productive on the road.

By definition, small businesses lack the resources that industry juggernauts enjoy. This means that when small business owners travel, they don’t exactly have the luxury of taking time off work and not tackling their responsibilities. So how exactly are they supposed to remain productive when they’re on the road? Luckily, there are a number of tools that have been developed specifically to help these kinds of workers remain productive—even when they’re traveling. If you haven’t yet, you may want to give apps like Pocket, Manifestly and Cometdocs a try. Read about them over at Small Business Computing.

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