Hackers Digest #33: Work Fewer Hours

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that shines a light on some of the more inspiring ideas about productivity that emerged 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. You work too many hours.

Though common sense might indicate that the more hours you log in the office, the more work you’ll be able to accomplish, that’s not always the case. It turns out that working fewer hours may actually enable you to become a more effective worker. According to science, workers are generally most productive during their second through sixth hours of the typical eight-hour workday. Additionally, in the 1970s, U.K. workers only logged three days a week due to a downtick in industry—which only translated to a 6% drop in productivity. So maybe working less is really working more. After all, we do know that workers become considerably less productive after the eighth hour of the workday. So at the very least, it doesn’t make any sense to force yourself to log 12-hour days. Read the whole story over at The National.

2. Stop being so damned distracted all the time.

While technology promises to make us more productive, too much of anything is always the recipe for disaster. According to a recent study, 75% of workers say they lose at least two hours of productivity every day due to being distracted by technology while 43% of them say they lose at least three hours for the same reason. Among the biggest culprits for distraction? Email. As for other things that kill productivity? Workers cited in-person meeting, noisy coworkers and working in a cubicle. If you want to reach your full potential, you may want to cut as many nonessential tech items out of your life as you can. For more, head to Business Management Daily.

3. Five tips to motivate lazy people.

Some people are incredibly lazy. They often procrastinate, leaving everything until the last possible minute. While it may be just how these people are wired, laziness is not exactly a virtue—particularly in the business world that increasingly values productivity. Luckily for the lazy, at least one writer shares their plight. She’s put together a list that includes five tips lazy people can use to take their productivity to the next level. To start with, lazy workers need to understand their motivation behind why they need to do certain tasks. Examples of motivation include “my boss won’t hate me” and “I’ll keep my job.” Up next, you’ll want to reward yourself for a job well done. Those tips—and three others—are over at The Huffington Post.

4. Boost your effectiveness by managing information overload.

Taken together, the age of big data and the evolution of technology provide organizations with a ton of benefits. But just because there is more data available than ever before doesn’t mean it’s necessarily useful—particularly if companies and employees are unable to sift through it quickly to find what they’re looking for. You can’t expect anyone to reach their full potential if they’re constantly being bothered by coworkers, clients and customers with a zillion requests every day. In today’s modern workplace, productivity starts with managing information overload successfully, across the entire organization. How exactly can you do that? For starters, your company would be wise to designate specific time periods as “non-interruption zones.” As the name suggests, during these hours, workers are expected to focus solely on their own work—not bother their peers with questions. Beyond that, organizations need to make sure all of their employees have the same definition of the word “emergency.” For more on those concepts and others, head over to Forbes.

5. How the CIA can help create better leaders and better organizations.

The CIA—and its predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services—knows a thing or two about management and productivity. During the height of World War II, the OSS published a manual that it sent to its allies living in Axis-led nations. The purpose of the pamphlet? To help its allies sabotage their own countries factories, transportation lines, and offices thereby contributing to the cause of the Allies. The manual—which was written in 1944—was declassified in 2008. The fine folks over at Business Insider have combed through the pamphlet only to discover that lots of the advice remains surprisingly relevant today, some 72 years later. The manual offers tips on how to be the worst leader, the worst manager and the worst employee. To find out what you should avoid doing at all costs, head to Business Insider.

6. Leverage your stress and anxiety to become more productive.

For some of us, stress and anxiety are crippling. We get overwhelmed by the fact there’s so much on our plates that we buckle to the point we’re unable to cross anything off our to-do lists. But what if it turned out that the more you knew about stress, the more likely you’d be able to channel that stress and become more productive? Whenever we get stressed out, our brains release a chemical called noradrenaline. While an overabundance of noradrenaline makes us restless and anxious, the perfect amount of the chemical helps us become more attentive and more curious while boosting our memories. What does this all mean? If you learn to handle the emotions that are associated with stress, you can leverage the noradrenaline it releases to become much more focused, creative and productive at work. Lifehacker has the story.

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