TED talks are perfect to watch when you want to take a quick break at your desk.
Instead of watching a steam of trending YouTube video, spend 20 minutes learning something new and fascinating on TED. Learn about how your brain absorbs and retains memories while you sleep, or how to “talk lean” in meetings.
There are tons of TED talks, all with the noble purpose of entertaining and enlightening you. To save you time, I’ve compiled a list of the ten best TED talks focused on improving your productivity. These videos will teach you about time management, procrastination, and the intricate science and biology that governs it all.
Besides, if someone passes your desk and sees you watching a TED talk – it’s way better than catching you lost in viral video land on YouTube.
1. Forget Multitasking, Try Monotasking by Paolo Cardini
Countless studies have already taught us the dangers of multitasking and debunked its efficacy. But why do we still do it? Designer Paolo Cardini suggests we radically change our ways and adopt “monotasking” instead.
2. How Too Many Rules at Work Keep You From Getting Things Done by Yves Morieux
Compared to productivity levels in the 1950s to today, business consultant Yves Morieux says we’re working slower than ever and producing less results. Why? Morieux says in his insightful talk that it’s because of too many processes and internal metrics. His solution? Instead of competition, we need more collaboration.
3. Dare to disagree by Margaret Heffernan
We all know communication is key to team collaboration and success. What about conflict? When we don’t agree with our co-workers, Margaret Heffernan suggests we not shy away from conflict. Instead, she says the best partners aren’t echo chambers. Be bold and share your point of view.
4. How to Stay Calm When You Know You’ll Be Stressed by Daniel Levitin
This super interesting talk by Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explores a new way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations. “We all are going to fail now and then,” he says. “The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be.” This is what he calls a “pre-mortem.”
Our brain has evolved over millennia to release cortisol in stressful situations. When this happens, it inhibits rational, logical thinking. Levitin suggests how to respond during stressful times.
5. Got a Meeting? Take a Walk by Nilofer Merchant
A simple change but an effective one – walk and talk next time you have a one-on-one meeting. Nilofer Merchant suggests this minor change, is not only good for your health, but the openness and relaxed setting, can lead to breakthroughs.
6. Looking For a Job? Highlight your Ability, Not your Experience by Jason Shen
What happens when you reach a point in your career and want to pivot into something completely different? Take Jason Shen as an example – he studied biology but later became a product manager at a tech company. Shem shares how job seekers can make themselves more attractive with these tips.
7. The Power of Time Off by Stefan Sagmeister
Designer Stefan Sagmeister takes a whole year off every seven years. He says that this sabbatical does wonders to rejuvenate his workflow and concentration. Although we might not all be able to take a full year off, we can strive for constructive breaks on a regular basis.
8. How to Gain Control of Your Free Time by Laura Vanderkam
This is a great one! Time management expert Laura Vanderkam examines how busy yet productive people spend their lives. A huge problem that most of us have – is that we dramatically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. Vanderkam makes some insightful suggestions on how to take control of how you spend your day.
9. How to Triple your Memory by Using this Trick by Ricardo Lieuw On
Have you ever learned how to learn? Most of us haven’t. In this TED talk, Ricardo Lieuw On shares how he learned how to reduce his learning time from 3 hours to 1 hour on the same piece of content. Why do we still need to memorize today? Well, if you’re one of those people that immediately forget someones name right after you meet them, this can surely help you become more professional.
10. The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers by Adam Grant
Fail, fail and fail often. That’s advice many of us hear on a regular basis and for a good reason. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. Here, he shares what makes them stand out from the rest and what we can learn from it.
“The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”
11. Why do we sleep? by Russell Foster
And lastly, let’s look at sleep. We spend most of our lives sleeping, yet we still know so little about it. Russel Foster is circadian neuroscientist and studies how sleep affects the brain. An incredibly insightful talk on sleep affects you and your daily productivity.
Hopefully these TED talks left you with some new nuggets of insight to help you tackle your daily To-Do list and left you more informed than before. Your mind and body are amazing! These tips are all designed to help you and remember…
~ Persist and Grow Forth ~
What are some of your favorite TED talks? Do you have some that I didn’t include? I’d love to hear them, share it in the comments below.