Hackers Digest #60: Stop Talking Politics

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Welcome to this week’s installment of the Hackers Digest, a feature that illuminates some of the more innovative ideas about productivity that came to light 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 in store this week:

1. How to make better decisions. 

Many productivity lists are incomplete without advice that tells you how to spring out of bed at 3:47 in the morning so you can get a head start on your day. But if you’re like most people, you’re a zombie at that hour no matter what you do. Good news: One CEO has found that waking up at 7:30 a.m. and starting work two hours later works just fine. The trick is to not let that two-hour block between jumping out of bed and getting ready to work go to waste. The CEO uses the time for what he calls big-picture thinking—being alone with your thoughts. Whether you use the time to plan out the rest of your week of brainstorm ideas for a new game-changing product is up to you. Give yourself time to think and you’ll make better decisions. For more on that tip and two others, head over to CNBC.

2. It’s time to adopt a non-digital time management system. 

There’s a seemingly infinite amount of time-tracking tools and digital time management systems that are all designed to help increase productivity and effectiveness. But do you really think interacting with yet another platform will make you noticeably more productive? Increasingly, productivity seekers are reverting to the tried-and-true method of keeping track of their time and their schedules by hand. It turns out there are a number of reasons why keeping track of your schedule by hand can turn you into a productivity beast. For starters, it’s time away from staring at your computer screen—which is a welcomed break. Keeping track of time by hand is also completely customizable; you won’t be slowed down by a platform’s rigidity. This approach to time management also forces you to think a lot more about your day because you don’t want to make any errors and have to restart. Put down your gadgets and pick up a pad over on Forbes.

3. Become more playful. 

Anyone who’s ever worked in a miserable environment knows how depressing it can be. You show up to the office every day only to be greeted by silence. You head to your desk, put your head down and start tackling your work, quietly, for the next several hours. According to a new study, it’s high time we had more fun at work. In fact, playfulness can play a huge role in employee morale and productivity. With playfulness, monotonous tasks become more exciting. Playful people are also better at thinking outside the box and solving problems. Perhaps most importantly, playful people are less stressed—and they help reduce the stress levels of those around them. For more, head to Reader’s Digest.

4. You’re talking about politics too much. 

No matter what your personal political opinions are, it’s safe to say that roughly one-half of the country disagrees with you. So remember: Just because you sit next to someone you get along with doesn’t mean that person shares your political opinions. According to a recent report, three-quarters of U.S. workers are increasingly talking to their colleagues about politics. About half of those workers have seen friendly conversations devolve into heated arguments. If you want to take your team’s productivity game to the next level, you’d wise to do what you can to keep the political theater at home. Time has the story—as well as tips on how to sidestep political conversations you don’t want to be a part of.

5. The main reason you’re not becoming more productive. 

If you’re reading these words, it’s safe to say that you’re interested in becoming a more productive worker. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just read what other people have written about increasing your output and thinking that your production will magically skyrocket overnight. The main reason people are unable to increase their productivity is because they don’t set aside enough time to take a step back and really look at their approach to work. Invest time in thinking about the way you, specifically, work and what could be changed to improve it. Once you’ve got it figured out, it’s time to make some switches. Inc. has the scoop.

6. Your organization is governed by too many rules.

Without rules, your organization would be chaotic. But too many rules can really hurt your company’s productivity, as workers get depressed and overwhelmed. For example, if your company has a strict dress code and someone gets scolded when they slightly violate it, that individual is probably not going to be too encouraged to go above and beyond. Bottom line: Rules tend to isolate us from one another. If your organization has a zillion rules on the books, you’re almost certainly stifling productivity. Of course, you still need some rules in place. Otherwise, anarchy would reign. The trick is finding the right balance. Learn how that can be accomplished over on The Huffington Post.

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