Team building helps everyone get to know and trust their fellow coworkers, but you don’t build trust overnight. Your team goes through gradual stages as they grow from a collection of strangers to efficient collaborators. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s team building model describes three stages — forming, norming, and performing—to show how teams can become more united over time.
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.
Stunned, my coworker sat not sure what to say. Julia was one of his best team members, and he thought she was valued and appreciated. Yet, here she was moving on to another role somewhere else.
What happened? Unfortunately, what was satisfying for someone a year or two ago, may not be so today. Fresh, exciting challenges from their early days on the job can grow to become stale, and boring once mastered.
You’re swamped with a huge project when your boss suddenly asks you to complete another urgent assignment due tomorrow. Your heart’s beating a mile a minute and you’re wondering how you’re going to get this all done. But somehow you’re going to try to make it work.
Too much stress will overwhelm you, but too little stress leaves you bored and unmotivated. The right amount of stress motivates you to succeed instead of making you crack under pressure.
Your ability to thrive or choke under pressure is ultimately based on the Yerkes-Dodson Law: Moderate stress up to a certain point can actually improve your performance. But beyond that point, your performance suffers.
Stress management is actually built into your brain’s chemistry. Here’s the science behind your body’s stress levels so you can maximize your productivity.
You’re being interrupted every three minutes to handle something urgent. You have a report that’s due at the end of the day. But your coworker just called you into a meeting that will “just be a minute.” When you get back, you just have to send a quick email. After you start on that email, another coworker asks you to jump on a client call.
You don’t think you’re procrastinating because you’re busy every moment. But just because you’re super busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. You’re actually guilty of a subtle form of procrastination known as priority dilution. This means you are distracted from focusing on your most important work. But it’s not your fault that you’re getting consumed with all these small disruptions. Your brain is actually hardwired to handle them. Here’s the science behind managing the small disruptions so you can be more productive.
Transparency helps you move fast. Information isn’t siloed — it’s all readily available for the taking. You don’t need to ask questions, forward information about a customer, or attend a meeting to know what’s going on. Instead, anyone can get access to the information they need without having to jump through hoops to get it.
However, extending this transparency to email is tricky. It was initially designed for 1:1 conversation but has been adapted to team use over time. You can loop in the people you need on a single email with BCC or CC, but it’s hard to make email efficiently accessible to an entire team. At the same time, within every inbox is a goldmine of customer interactions, company history, and internal discussions — so not sharing that is depriving your team of valuable information.
Thanks to new tools, automation, and a bit of organization, you can turn your outdated email inbox into a fully transparent platform that will serve as a resource for your entire team. Here’s how to do that in three steps.
Editor’s Note: This refreshed post was originally written by Kevan Lee in December of 2013, but has been completely revamped and updated for currency and comprehensiveness by Willa Rubin.
I spent an hour on this opening paragraph.
The hour wasn’t time well spent, mind you. Sure, I was working — writing, deleting, tinkering with words here and there — but my one-paragraph-per-hour pace wasn’t out of indecisiveness as much as a lack of motivation.
I spent five minutes on email, ten minutes on Twitter, and fifteen minutes doing who-knows-what on Tumblr. (Just kidding, I know exactly what I was doing: watching cat videos.)
Motivation is a tricky thing to corral. Tricky, but not impossible.
A habit is something you do automatically, without thinking. You know your personal habits—whether you do the dishes right away, or if you throw your clothes on the floor—but you aren’t always the same person at home and at work.
We put together this Productivity Quiz to help you identify what your work habits are. At the end of the quiz, you’ll see your Productivity Personality, which gives you personalized tips on how to be more productive by capitalizing on your good habits and eliminating your bad ones.
Whether you schedule every minute or go with the flow, you’ll leave with actionable feedback on how to make the most of your workday.
Hashtags and @ mentions have created a renaissance in workplace communication.
They may have started out as fun tools to help us engage with others on social media, but they’ve changed how we collaborate across channels and even between teams. These tools empower employees to keep their communication transparent, and to collaborate better and smarter.
@ Readers: Here’s a brief history of the # hashtag and @ mention, and how they’ve become an integral part of how we collaborate.
Who are your productivity heroes? If Michael Jordan isn’t up there, he should be.
Most people know Michael Jordan for his phenomenal scoring ability, superhuman dunks, or his starring role in Space Jam. Over a 20-year span, he scored more than 32,000 points, won six NBA titles and was named the league’s most valuable player five times. But to his teammates and coaches, he was notorious for his diligent work ethic.
Jordan’s longtime coach Phil Jackson once wrote that Michael “takes nothing about his game for granted.” He spent so much time preparing for competition that when it was game-time, he didn’t have to think about what to do next. He relied on instinct and muscle memory to dominate his opponents.
Professional athletes have to squeeze as much as they can out of their prime years, making them perfect productivity case studies. Here’s what some of our most famous athletes have to say about getting stuff done.