Hackers Digest #55: How Secrets Hold You Back


Welcome to this week’s installment of the Hackers Digest, a feature that examines some of the more fascinating 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. Secrets are killing your team’s productivity.

Despite what they may say from time to time, many of today’s organization are still shrouded in secrecy. Workers are forbidden from sharing their personal salary information with one another. Important decisions are made but employees don’t find out until the company is ready to implement the change. Nobody has any idea of what’s expected of anyone else. The list goes on. But many of today’s younger workers place a high value on transparency in the workplace. According to a recent study, a majority of workers say they are more productive when they are working in transparent environments. Unfortunately, a majority of them also believe that their organizations aren’t as transparent as they could be. If you want your team to make it to the next level, you may want to discourage secrets. Entrepreneur has the scoop.

2. All of those time-saving gadgets and apps are making you less productive.

John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2029, we’d all be able to get by living comfortably while only working an average of 16 hours each week. Anyone who works full-time likely predicts Keynes will be way off when 2029 finally rolls around. But one writer suggests that Keynes is still right on the money. Nowadays, the writer suggests, the average white-collar worker contributes 16 hours of economic activity each week. The rest of the time he or she sits in the office is wasted doing any number of silly administrative tasks made possible thanks to the evolution of technology. Despite the way technology has helped us become more productive over the last several decades, it appears it can also work against us too, giving us more boxes to check off and more platforms to check up on. Is it time to put down your gadgets and stop using so many apps? The story is over on The Spectator.

3. What the NBA teaches us about productivity. 

Are you familiar with the former NBA player Steve Nash? If not, he was a joy to watch on the court. Truly a one-of-a-kind player, Nash was a point guard who brought out the best in his teammates whether he was on the Suns, the Mavericks or the Lakers. Nash’s talents made his teammates better players. This effect is called spillover by economists. It turns out that spillover can help teams outside of basketball courts, too. There may be a number of employees working for your organization who have intangible skills that make everyone around them stronger contributors. The synopsis of the study can be found on ScienceDaily.

4. Is masturbation the golden ticket to productivity?

Studies show that the most productive workers take breaks periodically throughout the day. But is there a way to make breaks more effective? Some folks suggest that the ticket to increased productivity may found in the decision to use your breaks to masturbate.  A senior psychology lecturer says that masturbation can help reduce stress and relieve tension, giving workers a clear mind when they return to their desks. Another psychologist says company masturbation policies would produce workers who are more focused and more productive. Practitioners beware: You may return to work even more stressed if your break isn’t long enough—if you catch the gist. And it’s worth noting that your coworkers may be repulsed and offended to the point you get fired (or, depending on your chosen location, even arrested). Maybe the productivity hack is intended just for those who work from home? Anyway, the case is made on Refinery29.

5. What a guy who helped reinvent Google Calendar learned about productivity along the way.

Users of Google Calendar have no doubt noticed a number of new features that have been rolled out over the last several months. One of the engineers responsible for some of those upgrades—Google bought the startup he was working on, which the company has since leveraged to improve its calendar app—has written about the productivity lessons he learned as a result of helping to build that platform. Most importantly, he learned that he was terrible at estimating how much time it would take him to get things done. To improve in this realm, he suggests starting to estimate how long you think it’ll take to get certain tasks done. At the end of a week or two, you’ll see how bad your estimates are and can go back to the drawing board and make better estimates in the future. The writer also stressed the importance of developing weekly schedules—not daily schedules. Your Mondays don’t always have to look exactly the same. Switch things up. For more, head over to The Observer.

6. Just because certain things make you feel more productive doesn’t mean you’re getting more done.

There’s no shortage of people who are “passionate about productivity” these days. But what exactly does that mean? Increasingly, many workers fill up their days with tasks that are designed to make them feel more productive. Maybe you throw on that two-hour playlist that you swear makes you more effective. Maybe you read about the Pomodoro technique and decided that you need to give it a try. Maybe you spend a lot of time watching every TED Talk known to man. Whatever the case may be, productivity is all about getting things done and doing them well. Creating a ton of tasks for yourself on a Trello board or using new techniques may make you feel like you’re becoming a more productive worker. But unless you’re actually producing more, what’s the point? Forbes has the story.

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