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Tech Productivity

Issue #252  (How to Avoid Work: A 1949 Guide) 12/11/23

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Here's an interesting study that was conducted in April 2017, which I shared a while back in this very newsletter, but didn't discuss it in any detail. It's called Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity.

You probably don't need to read the results (which are made clear in the title) because I think we're all aware of the negative effects of smartphones on everyday life.
Mobile Phone Use

But I thought I would include a few interesting quotes from the report, which includes lots of background info on this topic. First here's a quote from the abstract for the study:
"Results from two experiments indicate that even when people are successful at maintaining sustained attention—as when avoiding the temptation to check their phones—the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity."

The key point there is that this is dealing with people who are normally good at maintaining attention. That's certainly relevant when looking at the effects of mobile phone use.

Another quote:
"Research indicates that signals from one’s own phone (but not someone else’s) activate the same involuntary attention system that responds to the sound of one’s own name."

And how about this one for those in school:
"Research in the educational sphere demonstrates that using mobile devices and social media while learning new material reduces comprehension and impairs academic performance."

The rest of the paper goes into great detail on the methods, procedure, and results of the experiments, so be sure to check it out if you want to take a deep dive into the study.

Now on to this week's hand-picked productivity links!


Tools & Apps

Planning Poker — This is an online app you can use with your team members to do something also referred to as "Scrum poker", a gamified technique for estimating in a way that takes away the influence of other participants.

Cloaked — A consumer privacy platform that includes a password manager, identity cloaker, one-time passcodes, and other privacy-related features.

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Baron — Native Mac or Windows app to add ChatGPT to any application, just a keyboard shorcut away, to help streamline your ChatGPT usage.

Oasis — A web-based voice recorder and AI writing assistant that lets you choose from a list of 'styles' (blog post, text message, professional email, etc).

Alto — An iOS app to help streamline your business invoicing with features like client management, invoice templates, various payment integrations, time tracking, and more.

Swipewipe — A neat idea for an app, this is Tinder for your camera roll, for iOS and Android. Swipe right to keep a photo, left to delete, to quickly weed out unneeded stuff taking up too much space on your phone.

Articles & Resources

My Process When Starting A New Job — The author is an independent consultant, so she often finds herself in this situation, so this advice might help you when switching roles, though you might not do it as often.

Research: Using This Font Can Preserve Your Memory — Some interesting points here including: "A 2019 thesis study ... found that easily readable fonts, such as Times New Roman, supported better reading comprehension."

Bytes: Your Favourite JavaScript Newsletter — I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, but this is definitely one I look forward to. Entertaining with lots of cool and useful coding tidbits and tools.    sponsor  

The Full Reset — A bit of a bizarre comparison here but the gist of this is that starting with a clean slate is beneficial in careers and business because it worked for the German army after they were stripped clean during WWI.

How to Avoid Work: A 1949 Guide to Doing What You Love — The article is from 2012 but the content is based on a guide written in 1949 that was apparently effective in helping people find more purpose back then.

The Wrong Way to Define Productivity — An intriguing consideration of how trust in the workplace, when it deteriorates, is the true root of lack of productivity in teams.

Why Note-taking Apps Don't Make Us Smarter — A deep dive adding to the discussion on note-taking apps, some of the assumptions we might make, and the expectations we have on how they can (or can't) help us.


Have a suggestion for a productivity-related tool, article, or other resource? Send me a direct message via X (@LouisLazaris) and I’ll consider including it in a future issue.

Stay productive!


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