Hackers Digest #49: Your Young Boss Suffocates You


Welcome to this week’s edition of the Hackers Digest, a feature that investigates some of the more impressive ideas about productivity that made the rounds 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. How one entrepreneur gets more done than you. 

One entrepreneur recently shared one word that could describe his method of productivity: hustle. No, he didn’t just have a eureka moment and figure out what changes he could make to get more done. Instead, he put his work habits under a microscope, generated corresponding data and summarized what he found. By using an app called RescueTime, the entrepreneur was able to figure out that he was wasting nearly five hours a week simply surfing the web aimlessly. Next, he realized that he got more sleep than the average person, logging 9.25 hours a night. This gave him more energy; after a good night’s sleep, he only needed 2.5 hours to tackle the 400 emails that greeted him every morning, compared to the four hours it takes when he didn’t get enough shuteye. Whenever the entrepreneur starts a task, he makes sure to finish it in that sitting—thereby streamlining productivity. For more on those tricks and others, head over to Forbes.

2. Five productivity secrets for the self-employed.

Anyone who works for themselves will tell you the same thing: It’s intense. You have to stay on top of so many different things, and there’s no boss figure in your life reminding you what to do. The good news is that entrepreneurial folk enjoy sharing their secrets for success and helping out others who are in the same position. In that light, one startup founder recently put together a list of five productivity hacks she relies on religiously. For starters, self-employed individuals should give all of their projects some sort of structure. Using a project management platform like Trello has been invaluable to the writer and her team (we use it here at Knote, too!). Next, many entrepreneurs find it helpful to join a community to surround themselves with other people in the same space. This helps build up a support network that can be leaned on during tricky times. Though you might be tempted to skimp on sleep and miss a meal here or there, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost. Fast Company has those tips and two more.

3. The Yerkes-Dodson curve and productivity.

Developed more than a century ago, the Yerkes-Dodson curve attempts to relate an individual’s level of “arousal” with how well they will tackle the task at hand. When someone isn’t aroused at all, i.e., they’re detached from the task, they’re not going to perform that well. But if someone is too aroused, i.e., they have a ton of energy, they don’t perform well either because they’re unable to focus. Do you know whether you’re a low-arousal person or a high-arousal person? Figure that out first. Then you can play around with how you tackle your work. Ideally, you’ll be able to match your level of arousal with the work you have to do. Fast Company has the story.

4. How the Pomodoro method saved one writer’s business.

If you’ve ever blogged for a living, you know how difficult it can be to crank out sentence after sentence day in and day out. Everyone hits a wall eventually. For one writer, that wall was so large that he wondered whether he’d have to ditch his blogging business altogether because he couldn’t conquer writer’s block. One day when he thought all hope was lost, he happened to stumble across a blog that talked about an interesting productivity system: the Pomodoro method. Essentially, this entails working in 25-minute blocks and then taking 5-minute breaks. Once that’s done four times, you take a 30-minute break. Working in chunks helped the writer minimize his distractions so he could get more work done and continue growing his business. The story is over at SitePoint.

5. You are drowning in distractions.

Check your personal email. Then make it over to Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Gotta check the news sites, too. Have you done your holiday shopping? Amazon has a great sale today. And you gotta check Etsy, too. Your phone vibrates, and it’s your significant other saying hi. You think of a clever response and start texting back and forth for some time. Let’s face it: There’s an endless amount of distractions in today’s modern world. When you don’t manage them correctly, it can make it impossible to tackle work. And it’s not a surprise, either: Nearly 50% of workers believe that they are not getting as much work done as they could be. Indeed, we’re drowning in distractions. Luckily, The Globe and Mail has some tips as to how to conquer them.

6. Your younger boss is making you less productive.

Do you work for someone younger than you? If so, you might struggle to reach your full potential. That’s according to a new study which showed that companies that have younger bosses managing older employees saw measurable declines in productivity. That’s due in part to the fact that older employees tend to experience more “negative emotions” when they have younger bosses. They’re more likely to suppress these emotions, which stifles their output. This is not to say that young bosses are terrible; it’s just something to keep in mind, particularly as more and more millennials infiltrate the workplace. You may want to think twice about promoting an army of 20-somethings. The Daily Herald has the scoop.

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