Tapping your productivity in ways you never have before takes unconventional thinking.
Reaching optimal productivity is about working smarter, not harder, and making the most of each day.
The following TED talks offer valuable lessons in doing just that.
Adam Grant’s ‘The surprising habits of original thinkers’
“The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” he says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”
According to Gran – who has studied many of the greats – churning out tons of ideas, even bad ones, is the key to successfully launching a game-changing idea. Producing more ideas means more variety, and this gives you a better chance of stumbling on something truly great.
Shawn Achor’s ‘The happy secret to better work’
As the CEO of Good Think Inc., a psychologist, and author of “The Happiness Advantage,” Achor has spent a lot of time researching where human potential, success, and happiness intersect.
He suggests the common belief that we should work to be happy is misguided, and instead happiness inspires productivity.
Nilofer Merchant’s ‘Got a meeting? Take a walk’
The business consultant and author of “The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy Paperback” shares with TED audiences how she’s helped numerous major companies develop successful new ideas: walking meetings.
She recommends forgoing coffee meetings or fluorescent-lit conference room meetings in favor of walking and talking 20 to 30 miles a week.
“You’ll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking, and in the way that you do, you’ll bring into your life an entirely new set of ideas,” she says.
Jason Fried’s ‘Why work doesn’t happen at work’
According to the “Rework” author, thanks to modern offices, we’re constantly getting distracted by our boss checking in on us, pointless meetings, or coworkers with urgent requests.
“You don’t have a work day anymore,” Fried says in his talk. “You have work moments. It’s like the front door of the office is like a Cuisinart, and you walk in and your day is shredded to bits, because you have 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there.”
One of his proposed solutions goes against common convention, but Fried says implementing half-days (or more) of complete silence will help employees work uninterupted for longer periods of time.
Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘The power of time off’
For more than 20 years, Sagmeister has poured his heart and soul into designing album covers for artists like the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed. But every seven years, he closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh his creativity.
In his talk, he explains how taking time off has allowed him to pursue “some little experiments” that have become innovative projects.
David Grady’s ‘How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings’
Another crusader against bad meetings, the information security manager is on a mission to help you reclaim your time.
His solution to attending meetings needlessly is surprisingly simple, but it shifts so radically from modern workplace thinking, many rarely see it as an option.
Yves Morieux’s ‘How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done’
Morieux, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, believes today’s businesses are increasingly and dizzyingly complex, and the only way to solve brand-new problems every day is to cooperate with others.
“To cooperate is not a super effort, it is how you allocate your effort,” he says. “It is to take a risk, because you sacrifice the ultimate protection granted by objectively measurable individual performance. It is to make a super difference in the performance of others, with whom we are compared.”
Arianna Huffington’s ‘How to succeed? Get more sleep’
It’s a simple idea that a good night’s sleep has the power to increase productivity, happiness, and smarter decision-making, but Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, believes it can unlock bigger ideas.
“I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep,” she says.
Margaret Heffernan’s ‘Dare to disagree’
Good work relationships aren’t built on constantly agreeing with each other, as Heffernan, serial entrepreneur and “Beyond Measure” author, explains.
Great businesses allow people to deeply disagree, she says, but “the truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it. Openness isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.”