Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that explores some of the more interesting 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 on tap this week:
1. You need to start waking up a lot earlier.
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise—so the old adage goes. But just early are you supposed to wake up? Probably a lot earlier than you’re used to. There’s a growing trend among the world’s most influential people of waking up super early. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, wakes up at 3:45 a.m. every morning. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, gets out of bed a little later—at 5 a.m. According to a new report, it turns out that 4 a.m. might be the most productive hour of the day. It sort of makes sense when you think about it. No one’s up. No one’s texting you. With fewer distractions, you can be more productive. But odds are you’re not used to waking up at the crack of down. Good news: Inc. has 10 tips that can help you get used to the early-morning shift.
2. A 100-year-old productivity tip that is incredibly simple.
Steel magnate Charles Schwab wanted to figure out how to make his workers be more productive. So he asked Ivy Lee, a business consultant, what could be done. Lee was up for the task. All he needed was 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s executives. Schwab asked how much Lee would charge for his services, and Lee told him he could write a check for however much he wanted if he was pleased with the results. A few months after Lee’s meetings with the executives, Schwab cut him a check for $400,000 (in today’s dollars). So what was Lee’s simple secret to productivity? Good Housekeeping has the scoop.
3. It’s time to kill your air-conditioner.
We’ve all worked in ice-cold offices before. When it’s hot outside, for some reason it seems natural that managers try to make offices as cold as they can. Who doesn’t like an air-conditioner? But too much of a good thing can turn out drastically. In fact, studies show that the colder an office is, the less productive workers will be. A recent Bloomberg article highlighted one such study that showed workers in a 78-degree office hit twice as many keys on the keyboard as their peers stuck in a 70-degree office. Sure, it’s not the perfect measurement of productivity. But if you’re looking for a way to be more productive, you might want to turn the air-conditioner down at least a bit. For more—like the reason why offices are so cold in the summer in the first place—head to Bloomberg.
4. The key to productivity: take conscious action.
A lot of workers suffer from attempting to be perfectionists. While producing flawless work is certainly something to be commended, it’s not exactly the ticket to becoming the most productive worker. You end up spending an insane amount of time ironing every single detail, and in the process, your day slips away and you’re unable to move on to the next thing. Instead of trying to make sure every last speck of an assignment is flawless, just work hard to get something done. Take conscious action. As Nike says, just do it. Of course, you still need to work hard and produce results. But is it really worth debating whether it should be two sentences or one sentence broken up by a semicolon for the umpteenth time? Head over to Forbes to read the story.
5. Blast music in the office.
Ever worked in an eerily quiet office before? The kind of place you could hear a pin drop? It’s pretty creepy. But beyond that, it also stifles productivity. Still, common sense tells us that we shouldn’t be incredibly loud in the office. But according to a new study, playing music in a communal setting in the office is linked with an uptick in productivity and a more cooperative workforce. Sure, you might not want to blast heavy metal or any music with incredibly vulgar lyrics. Studies show that such music can actually stifle productivity. But upbeat music has been linked with happiness and productivity. So put together a playlist of mostly agreeable tunes (e.g., “Brown-Eyed Girl”) and press play and see whether you and your peers are able to get more done. The story’s over at Consumer Affairs.
6. You need to pay more attention to what you have for lunch.
There’s so much focus on productivity these days that one very essential aspect of it often gets overlooked: Every professional needs to eat sooner or later. Understanding the importance of diet and nutrition, some companies are starting to take lunch very seriously. How? They’re providing their employees catered lunches and healthy snacks on site. Others gamify lunch, encouraging their employees to take pictures of their lunch in “healthy eating” contests. How much thought have you given to your midday meal? If you just shove whatever’s within reach down your gullet, you’re almost certainly doing it wrong. The Calgary Herald has the story.