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Work Smart

8 Interesting Ted Talks on Working Smart

November 24, 2015

Have you heard that saying, the one which goes something like, ‘Working smart isn’t the same thing as working hard. It’s about how much and how well you get things done.’

Isn’t this so true about the way we work these days? Or aspire to at least. Gone are the days when logging 9 hours religiously would define your organizational worth. These are times when smart actions and mindful decisions define your worth as a professional. It is all about your ability to get things done in a nifty and sustainable way, making the best use of your own time and resources and that of others.

Some of the best tips on working smart can be found on Ted Talks, and we decided to round our top 8 for you.

1. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

This is possibly the most entertaining, engaging and insightful talk about how positive psychology can help make you feel happier and thereby more productive at your job. Shawn is the CEO of Good Think Inc. and researches about positive psychology. The premise of Shawn’s argument is that by reversing the conventional happiness equation, i.e., ‘if I work well I will be happy’, we can bring in a lot more productivity in our daily lives. His theory is backed by scientific studies and he makes a strong case for actively nurturing positive thinking and changing the way we approach work. “Change the lens, change the reality” is the mantra he recommends.

A must-watch for anyone looking to boost their productivity levels.

2. Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? In this particular Ted Talk mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe talks about the transformative power of doing just that. He talks about the myopic vision we develop when we keep ourselves attuned to the monotony of one task and that alone, and how it is essential to refresh the mind for just 10 minutes every day to think clearly again.

He talks about mindfulness, being present ‘in the present’ and being very conscious of the things we do. When we work mindfully we pay sincere attention to our work and in so doing we avoid getting caught up with distractions. To become a more mindful employee, Andy suggests taking only 10 minutes out of your day to step back, empty the mind space and come back to the present with more focus and clarity.

3. Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

In this Ted Talk, co-founder of 37signals Jason Fried talks about offices being one of the biggest productivity killers. He calls them the “interruption factories”. His talks offers an observation that people actively seek out “alone time” or some sort of a private spot when it comes to really getting things done. This is especially true for professionals involved in highly creative work — designers, illustrators, programmers, writers and such — who request long uninterrupted periods of time to get their tasks done. Jason goes on to offer three insights that can be adopted by any organization to give their people just enough room space to breathe and work on their own terms and in their own comfort zones.

4. Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work

Author of popular book “Fat, Forty and Fired”, Nigel Marsh has been researching about the elusive concept of work-life balance for many years. In this talk, he highlights the four key things he has found to be true about the realities of chasing work-life balance. “Being more balanced doesn’t have to come from dramatic upheavals to your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life,” he says and that’s the key take away from his talk.

5. Susan Colantuono: The career advice you probably didn’t get

While this talk is primarily aimed at an audience of women it has universal takeaways. Susan Colantuono shares a simple little secret behind climbing the career ladder that you’ve possibly been never told before. She proposes a change in the way we talk about and evaluate leadership and how we define parameters for career succession — whether it is within the organization and outside. Empowering, insightful and thought-provoking, this Ted Talk is a must watch for anyone who’s ever felt stuck at a job knowing all the while they have it to be ‘up there’ in their organization.

6. Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely talks about two eye-opening experiments that bring out our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. Do people really care about money? Is there another incentive that drives people to do a good job? Dan says yes. In today’s knowledge economy, people care more about the ‘meaning’ in their work, the challenges, the pride associated with their job, and a sense of ownership too. And when leaders recognize this will they have, in true sense, a team that’s driven and that cares.

7. Kare Anderson: Be an opportunity maker

In our great quest for trying to do things that hold meaning or that are for the larger good we tend to go astray quite easily. That’s because not all of us know how to use our talents for creating something meaningful with our lives. This talk by Kare Anderson, a self-proclaimed chronic shy person and a Forbes writer, will tell you just that. Kare shares her own story of how she became a more open person by harnessing a “mutuality” mindset — a mindfulness to help others realize their own greatness. She says that ‘our capacity to do something smarter together for the greater good that lifts two people in a scalable way’ is a notion that needs recognition in every work environment.

8. John Wooden: The difference between winning and succeeding

With all his poetic grace John Wooden, affectionately known as the ‘Coach’ who led UCLA to record wins that are still unmatched in the world of basketball, talks about the difference between winning and succeeding. Speaking with a kind of profound simplicity, this talk from 2001 is a keeper — for all the times when you feel you are losing sight of your goals and success seems hazy. Coach John Wooden talks about what he has come to understand as the real definition of success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspirational discourse he talks about his days back in Indiana and at UCLA and the advice he gave his students, learning all along as a teacher himself.


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