Hackers Digest #42: Birth a Child


Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that explores some of the more innovative 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. A productivity app that’s already on your iPhone.

Since you’re reading these words, it’s probably safe to say you spend a lot of time perusing the internet for the next biggest productivity hack or app. What if it turned out that the key to becoming a more effective worker was already in your possession and you just didn’t know about it? According to one writer, that may be the case—assuming you’re the owner of an iPhone. There are apps for everything. But instead of making organizing your work more complicated than it needs to be, you may be better off using the Reminders app on your iPhone, which comes stock on any new device. Quite simply, Reminders is an extremely helpful app that’s easy to use—or so the writer says. If you’re struggling with your productivity, there’s no harm in giving it a try. Business Insider has the scoop.

2. How famous writers increased their productivity.

To reach their full potential, every worker needs his or her own productivity system. How do you go about designing your own unique system? It starts with exposing yourself to a ton of new ideas to see which ones stick the most. In this light, this week we turn our attention to famous writers. Toni Morrison, for example, advises us to change our definition of failure. When our definition is too broad, we might be too discouraged to get started on a project in the first place. Then there’s Ernest Hemingway, who tells us to stop what we’re doing mid-sentence when we’re on a roll. That way, when you start writing again, you’ll be able to pick up right where you left off. For John Steinbeck, it was developing a system—never striving to achieve goals. If the sum of your work is always a work in progress, you’ll never run out of ideas. For more, head to Lifehacker.

3. Is having a child the ultimate productivity hack?

Common sense tells us that if you want to be productive, you probably shouldn’t procreate. With so many snot-nosed little brats running around, how could you possibly be able to get all your work done? Not so fast. It turns out that a new paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reveals that women who have a child (or children) are considerably more productive than their childless peers throughout their entire careers. Are kids actually the ultimate productivity hack? Maybe having to run someone else’s life all day and week long helps you figure out how to maximize the time you have to get your work done. Is it time to have a child? The case is made over at Quartz.

4. All those super sweet devices you have are probably making you less productive.

Maybe all of the people telling you to buy such and such device and download such and such app to be productive actually have it all wrong. According to one neuroscientist, technology actually makes us less productive for one simple reason: The human brain is incapable of multitasking. As a result, doing things like maintaining “inbox zero” are unadvisable. You ended up paying so much attention to your inbox it becomes impossible for you to focus on the task at hand. When you’re focusing on just one thing, your prefrontal cortex allows both sides of your brain to work together with one another. When you’re focusing on multiple things at once, your left brain and right brain are on different pages. So next time you thing about glancing down at your phone to see who texted you, it may be worth waiting until you finish whatever you’re doing. The story is over on PBS.

5. Eight simple tricks to become a more effective worker.

The article is written for forex traders, but the advice can still apply to any old professional: To increase your productivity, you may just have to make a few changes to your daily routine. For example, you might want to develop a morning routine that puts you in the best position to be productive. Create a morning mantra that helps you get inspired; work out before heading to work; put together a to-do list; and read the news. Build the foundation upon which your day will grow. You should also study your personal productivity at the end of each week to determine what, if anything, you can do to improve it. One more tip: Organize your workspace for maximum productivity. For more on those tips and others, head to LeapRate.

6. Don’t let stress hold you back. Turn it into productivity.

Even the strongest worker of all time can lose focus when he or she succumbs to stress. But what if instead of letting stress overwhelm us, we were able to channel that energy and make it work for us? It turns out that it’s possible if you put your mind to it. Our brains are powerful things; our perception becomes our reality and affects the way we go about our day and interpret situations. If you’re in a predicament where you feel spectacularly stressed out, you might want to try to reframe the situation. In doing so, you can theoretically change a stressful situation into a positive opportunity. When stressful situations become challenges instead of dreadful tasks, you can turn your negative energy into productivity. Read the story over on The Observer.

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