The Science of Productivity

Here's the actual science behind what makes us more productive and happy at work.

You'll learn what the latest in neuroscience and psychology means for your productivity, and we'll give you concrete tips on how to make it a part of your life.

Why Your Goals Aren’t Making You More Productive

Google didn’t become one of the most valuable brands in the world by accident. It’s been rated the #1 place to work by Fortune for seven of the last 10 years, and called “employee heaven” by leadership advocate Will Marré.

The secret to their employee engagement is a little trick they picked up from Intel: the OKR system. OKR stands for objective and key results. The premise of OKR goals is that every employee, from entry-level to CEO, is working towards a single objective that aligns with the general mission of the company. Each objective has key results which serve as measuring sticks for the success of that objective.

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Now used by tons of tech companies, the OKR system has become hugely popular in the tech community. But misuse of OKR goals can not only prove ineffective—it can prove fatal to your organization. Here are four disastrous goal-setting mistakes that startups make.

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Museum Hack’s Productivity Case Study

We developed IDoneThis to help teams become more productive, and to eliminate the need for time-consuming meetings. But some of our customers have found more creative ways to use us than we even imagined! Here’s how one of our clients, Museum Hack, uses IDoneThis to stay on task.

CEO Nick Gray used to hate museums. But just one incredible museum experience, totally turned him. Before he knew it, he was a museum junkie spewing fun facts about ancient artifacts to all his friends.

He had such a knack for bringing the art to life that the popularity of his unofficial tours took off and became the impetus for his unique startup: interactive museum tours.

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When Nick founded his museums-made-easy company, productivity tools were the last thing on his mind. But three years later, as Museum Hack had grown multi-fold, and its guides began to work in locations across three major cities, they were in serious need of a catch-all productivity tool that would keep them connected and on schedule. They found just that in IDoneThis.

We spoke with Michael, the Head of Marketing of Museum Hack, to get an idea of the problems they faced as they expanded, and how they used IDoneThis features to address them.

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The Father of Personal Productivity Joins the I Done This Team

I Done This is pleased to announce our newest addition to the team: Ben Franklin, or, as we call him, Benji. He will be assuming the role of in-house personal productivity expert and is super excited to be sharing his insights.

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I have been invited to join I Done This as the in-house personal productivity expert for a pretty obvious reason: I’m really great at getting things done.

My main accomplishments have been in the fields of technology and innovation, although when I dabbled in politics I did help draft the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, earning me that “founding father” title. I also have 9 honorary degrees and have held 16 public offices. In case you’ve never seen one, my face has also been put on the hundred dollar bill.

What can I say— personal productivity just comes easy to me. But it wasn’t always that way. I’ve spent years developing the best method for personal productivity. And I’m about to let you in on my secret.

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To Be More Productive, Work Less

Guest Post by Daniel Tay, Piktochart

Daniel is a Content Strategist at Piktochart, where he writes regularly about creativity, design, and storytelling. His motto in life: Always be improving, always be loving. Check out his latest articles over at the Piktochart blog.

Back in the 1800s, American author Herman Melville was facing a problem while writing his to-be masterpiece, Moby Dick. Like many famous creative people who would come after him, he struggled against mankind’s greatest nemesis – procrastination – and even had to resort to chaining himself to his desk to be productive.

That particular story turned out pretty well. Moby Dick went on to become one of the greatest literary works of all time. Sitting at our desks mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, though, it’s hard to imagine that we could ever overcome the Instant Gratification Monkey, and get to work on the ever-increasing mounds of assignments and projects ahead of us.

Even if we did chain ourselves to our desks and get started, distractions continually attempt to pry and lure us away. And unlike Melville, we live in an age of perpetual distractions which are easily accessible at the swipe of a finger. Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass says that we are “suckers for irrelevancy.”

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Each time we get distracted, we mess up our flow – defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Not being in the flow is naturally very, very bad for doing actual productive work.

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The 5 Daily Habits of a Terrible Boss

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About half of workers at some point have left a job to get away from their manager.

Not the work, not the clients or coworkers. The manager.

We’ve written before about how 95 percent of managers are wrong about what best motivates employees at work. Now we know that many managers are so bad they’re making half their employees leave the job. According to another survey, 19.2 hours are wasted every week — 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend — worrying about what a boss says or does.

It’s not easy being the boss. But terrible habits make it hard to be a good boss. Don’t be a terrible boss. Avoid these common habits of bad managers and maybe your employees will stick around a while.

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How Distractions Ruin The Most Important Thing You Can Be Doing At Work

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We live in the most distracting time in history. When else did people have access to so much information with so little effort?

It’s a phenomenon that can be both beautiful and terrible. You can easily stumble on to a new favorite song, or a link to a book that changes your life. You can take personalized Portuguese lessons with a native speaker without leaving your house. Or…

Cats. So many cats. One click on a Facebook link can send you down the rabbit hole of lost time and missed productivity. Who knows how many hours and dollars you’re costing yourself in the long run.

Even worse, we’re most susceptible to these kind of distractions at work, where our attention and energy is at its most vulnerable.

Not only is it taking away your time. And taking away your money. It’s taking away the most valuable, important thing you can be doing at work.

It’s taking away your flow.

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How Procrastination Can Be Your Best Productivity Tool

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Consider the cliche job interview question — What’s your biggest weakness?* What’s the worst answer you can give?

“I’m a procrastinator.”

Probably no quicker way to ensure you’re “not the right fit” for that job. No matter what the job is.

Procrastination has become one of the ugliest words in modern work. It’s practitioners are stigmatized more than employees who make bad choices and blow up the company. They at least were doing something, the thinking goes.

But what if we’re thinking about it all wrong. What if the impulse to procrastinate is one of the more valuable tools we have?

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What Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Love But 1 in 4 Americans Ignore

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What’s the secret weapon of highly successful people? Reading books.

Throughout history, Bill Gates and many of the world’s most successful and influential people have been avid book readers.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not. One in four Americans did not read a single book in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 1978, that number was 8 percent. By 2005 it was 16 percent.

It’s a trend to avoid it you want to do great things.

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How Decision Fatigue Makes You Work Worse When You Work More

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Planning on getting arrested anytime soon? Better hope the judge has had a sandwich.

Researchers in 2011 studied more than 1,100 decisions from eight Israeli judges serving on a parole board. Their findings were surprising: the biggest factor determining how lenient a judge would rule was how long it had been since the judge had a snack or lunch break.

“Basically, right after a short break, judges came in with more positive attitudes and made more lenient decisions. As they burned up their reserves of energy, they began to make more and more decisions that maintained the status quo,” wrote Jeff Sutherland, CEO of Scrum, Inc. and author of “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.

The problem: decision fatigue. The mental work of making all those high-stakes decisions, one after another, wore down the judges.

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How Distractions At Work Take Up More Time Than You Think

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Make an estimate on how many times are you are distracted during an average work day.

Now take that number and multiply it by 25.

That’s how many minutes of concentration you’re losing. It takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to return to the original task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine.

Multiple studies confirm this. Distractions don’t just eat up time during the distraction, they derail your mental progress for up to a half hour afterward (that’s assuming another distraction doesn’t show up in that half hour).

In other words, that “30 seconds to check Twitter” isn’t just 30 seconds down the drain. It’s 25 minutes and 30 seconds.

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