Hackers Digest #50: Productivity without Technology


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 CEO manages three companies while supporting his teams.

How do tech CEOs that manage multiple companies stay productive? Surely it involves some bizarre three-hour morning ritual that starts at 4 a.m., right? Not necessarily. Amol Sarva—founder of Knotable, Knotel and Halo Neuroscience, who’s also the publisher of this site—recently spoke with FastCompany about what he does to stay productive. For starters, it’s all about dividing your schedule so that you have time allotted for being by yourself and getting things done as well as time for meeting with your employees—or at least being available to meet—so they can get things done, too. Sarva’s also a huge believer in ridding organizations of unnecessary meetings. Workers are stretched thin enough as it is. For more on those tips and others, head over to FastCompany.

2. Is diversity within your group a key to productivity?

The physical sciences aren’t exactly the most diverse area of study. That’s according to a recent guest speaker at Duke University, Professor Ágnes Mócsy, who said that over the course of her career, she’d often been the only woman in the room. According to a recent study, the most productive teams are the ones that are the most diverse, Mócsy relayed. If your team lacks diversity, you may be missing out on the ability to unlock your full potential. Check out the story at The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper.

3. How listening to peace and quiet makes you more productive.

Are you the kind of worker who always has headphones on, listening to music as you try to tackle your work? It turns out you might be performing way below your potential. While there is evidence that listening to music can increase output, the original study that made the finding focused on workers in menial factory production jobs that were relatively mindless. So, if you’re doing the same thing over and over and over again, music would help you be more productive because it would serve as a distraction so you wouldn’t go crazy. But when you’re doing actual work that requires a lot of thought and concentration? Silence many trump music. The Atlantic has the scoop.

4. How listening to music makes you more productive.

OK, forget that. A recent survey amongst college students indicated, overwhelmingly, that listening to music drastically increases productivity—depending on the kind of music, of course. The results of the survey were backed up by a doctor from the Mayo Clinic who said songs we like can release dopamine in our brains, making us feel good and more committed to the task at hand (think: positive reinforcement). So, maybe some people are better at working in absolute silence as the above study indicated, but there are certainly those of us who enjoy more noisy environments. The Threefold Advocate, which is John Brown University’s student paper, has the story.

5. How to be productive without adding more technology to your life.

A vast majority of articles written about productivity link technology to an increase in output. But imagine the guy who takes all the advice and uses 100 different apps to manage his work. Doesn’t seem like he’s going to get much done. Do you always have to use technology to become a more effective worker? Of course not. One writer put together a list of seven ways you could become a more productive professional—none of which involve downloading a new app. For example, try to solicit positive advice from the smartest people in your life. You also shouldn’t be afraid to take a risk. You can’t win if you don’t play. More on those tips—and five others—are over on Entrepreneur.

6. How to be productive and maintain your privacy in a coworking space.

Many professionals work out of coworking spaces like Knotel these days. In addition to being more affordable than dedicated office space, you get to meet a whole slew of amazing people at coworking spaces—picking their brains and bouncing ideas off of them. Still, you don’t own a coworking space. So if you find yourself working in one, there are some tips and tricks you should follow to make sure you remain productive—and keep all your information safe. For example, you’ll want to make sure that you sync to the cloud to guarantee your work is backed up. You’ll also have to get in the habit of checking out the security of WiFi; you may want to grab a VPN, which isn’t expensive. The story is over on CIO.

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