Hackers Digest #57: Rewire Your Brain


Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that examines some of the more innovative 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 we found this week:

1. Time-saving tasks that will boost your productivity.

To be more productive, you don’t have to work harder. You just have to work smarter. There are only so many hours in the day, and you’ll burn out if you keep pushing yourself beyond what your body can handle. Instead of tacking more and more tasks onto your plate, you may be better off figuring out everything that can be taken off for it. For example, if you need to head to the nearby Staples to grab a bunch of office supplies once a month, you may want to determine whether it makes sense to subscribe to recurring shipments through Amazon and get items sent directly to you. That way, you’ll never have to go to the store again. You may also find that consolidating your boring tasks into one action instead of spreading them out over the course of a week has benefits, too. For more on those tips and one other, check out Entrepreneur.

2. Are nootropics the answer to the productivity problem?

For many workers, all it takes is a few cups of coffee to get going in the morning. But it’s a whole different story for workers out in Silicon Valley who are constantly trying to figure out the next productivity hack that will help them make it to the next level. Recently, some professionals have taken up the habit of ingesting small amounts of LSD during work hours—which they swear makes them more productive. But not everyone is cool with taking hallucinogenics during work—and for good reason. That hasn’t stopped folks from trying to figure out what substances they could take that would help make them better workers. Case in point? Nootropics are pills that are designed to help improve cognitive functioning. While scientists haven’t verified they work just yet, many Silicon Valley workers swear by them. Are nootropics right for you? Find out over on Marketplace.

3. Two ways to rewire your brain to become more productive. 

There’s no shortage of entrepreneurs working on figuring out how to leverage neuroscience to make us more productive. In fact, some believe that neuroscience and the wearable devices that come with it will ultimately increase our productivity threefold by improving brain clarity and function. Unfortunately, a lot of the technology that’s been developed in this space is still relatively nascent and unproven. The good news is that you can still use neuroscience to become more productive right now. Rewire your brain; you’ll just have to wait a bit to use the gadgets. For example, learning how to redirect stress can help you conquer one of the top productivity killers. You may also find out that your brain acts differently in areas with lots of light than it does in darker areas. For more, head to Fast Company.

4. Make your inbox more organized and more efficient. 

A recent survey from Adobe revealed that the average U.S. worker is connected to his or her inbox for 37 hours each workweek. Think about how many times you navigate over to your email tab in your browser or refresh your inbox on your mobile device.  It’s not exactly the most productive use of time. Unfortunately, email plays a critical role in our jobs. You can’t just ignore your inbox all day and expect to stay on top of your responsibilities. So, the goal is to reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox while increasing your efficiency with email. That requires you to develop a system that works best for you and you alone. Use apps. Take advantage of labels. Check your inbox periodically throughout the day. Build a system that works for you. To learn more, head over to INFORUM.

5. Take a sabbatical.

A Silicon Valley consultant had been busting his tail every day for 15 years when he finally realized he was coming down with the classical symptoms of burnout. Ultimately, he decided to take a three-month sabbatical—and he suggests you do the same. During that time, the consultant got a lot of work done and also had the time to sit around and do a lot of deep thinking. At the same time, he felt extremely relaxed and had a lot of leisure time on his hands. Whereas he forced himself to always look busy when he was a consultant in Silicon Valley, he didn’t have to maintain the façade on sabbatical. Does your employer have a sabbatical policy? If you’re unsure, it may be time to find out. The Guardian has the details.

6. How to have productive conversations in high-pressure situations.

Not everyone is in their element when they are pitching to investors. Not everyone can ace a group interview at a highly competitive organization. Not everyone can get their ideas across effectively during important board meetings. If you’re one of the folks who isn’t the best at communicating in high-pressure situations, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. But just because you might not be the best communicator in intense conversations doesn’t mean you can’t sharpen your skills. One writer put together an article that shares four tips you can use to make sure you’re heard. For starters, focus on what you want to say—not what you think someone else wants to hear. Whenever possible, share an interesting detail about yourself that will help people remember you and pique their interest. If you’re going back for additional meeting with investors, spend a few minutes refreshing their memories about your previous meetings. You should also learn some techniques to calm your nerves so that you open strong. Fast Company has the scoop.

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