Hackers Digest #39: Trains, Planes & Productivity


Welcome to this week’s installment of the Hackers Digest, a feature that shines a light on some of the fresher 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 we found this week:

1. You need to start taking better breaks.

Even workaholics like Elon Musk take breaks from time to time. You can’t expect to sit at your computer all day long, day in and day out, without burning out, after all. But it’s not enough to simply know you need to take a break. To reach peak productivity, you need to take smart breaks. If you step away from an assignment only to check your email, you’re not really taking a break. So what’s the recipe for a successful break? Different people work differently, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach that can be taken. But studies suggest stepping away from your work for somewhere in the ballpark of 12 minutes seems to work for most folks. For breaks to be productive, you need to do something that’s enjoyable and intermittent throughout the day. To figure out how to take your breaking game to the next level, head over to PC World.

2. How productivity ties into depression.

There’s a link between depression and work productivity. When you’re in a sour mood, there are a million things on your mind. Maybe you think your life sucks. Maybe your relationship is on the fritz and you got into a huge fight with your significant other the night before. Maybe you’re dead broke and are wondering how you’re going to make rent. Whatever the case may be, when we’re depressed, it’s impossible to reach our full potential at the office. In a recent psychology story, researchers found out that it was possible to determine how successful a patient’s depression treatment has been by studying the individual’s work productivity. If medication isn’t getting the job done on its own, additional therapies—like more exercise—might be in order. Bottom line? If you’re not in the best mood, you should probably figure out how to get to a better place before tackling your work. For more, head to PsychCentral.

3. What do you know about productivity porn?

There’s porn. There’s food porn. Now, there’s productivity porn. Today, there’s so much focus on productivity systems. Increasingly, people are giving bullet journals a try. In the age of Instagram and social media, it appears as though productivity gurus are now taking pictures of their bullet journals to show everyone else how awesome they are at designing a functional to-do list. Some might argue that spending a ton of time designing a bullet journal that’s pleasing to the eye and taking the time to share it on social media isn’t exactly the most productive use of time. In any case, Elle has the scoop.

4. Want to be productive when you travel? Stick to trains.

Common sense might tell you that if you need to travel across the country on business—or out of the country if you’re someplace like Europe—you have one option: take a plane. But we all know how stressful and time-consuming flying can be. So instead of hopping on an airplane, it might be time to consider taking a train to get to your destination the next time you travel on business. In doing so, you’ll be less stressed, and it’ll be easier to get more work done while you’re traveling. In a recent study, 90% of professionals said that they view travel time on a train as productive, whereas only 6% indicated they could be productive when they’re 30,000 feet in the air. To read more about why trains rule, head to European Railway Review.

5. Do you rely on Gmail? You need to read this.

It’s not uncommon for folks to live inside their inboxes these days. You send and receive documents and files. You chat in real time with your business partners. Your calendar is connected to your inbox. The utility of the tool can be endless. But are you getting the most out of Gmail? No matter how good your Gmail skills are, there’s a good chance you’re not an expert. The folks over at Fast Company have put together a list of 25 tips and tricks designed to help you make the most out of your Gmail experience. It’s almost certain that you’ll find at least a couple you’ve never heard of. FastCompany has the scoop.

6. Is your organization’s approach to security hurting your productivity?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the endless amount of high-profile hacking cases. Sony. Anthem. Home Depot. Target. The DNC. The list goes on and on and on. Almost every company likely understands the importance of maintaining strong security. But it’s not enough to deploy a security solution today and think it’ll do the job for the ensuing decade. In a recent survey, two-thirds of IT decision makers said they believe they’ll be subject to a security attack within the next 12 months—unless their companies upgrade their security tools. Getting hacked won’t make it any easier to be productive. To learn more about how digital security is linked with productivity, head over to ITProPortal.

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