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Tech Productivity

Issue #257  (Task-Centric vs. Outcome-Centric) 01/15/24


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Well worth a watch is a short TED talk by neuropsychologist Nicole Byers called How Stress Drains Your Brain — and What To Do About It. If you've been faced with a lot of stress and find yourself forgetting simple things like people's names or other bits of info, the simple advice here may help.

Before the final few suggestions towards the end of the 9-minute video, Nicole covers the science (in simple terms) on how the brain is affected by stress and distractions.
TED - How Stress Drains Your Brain

Some of the main points I found interesting were:

  • The human brain can store 2.5 million gigabytes of data (equal to about 5,000 iPhones).
  • She tells an anecdote of a "10-second-Tom" who, after a successful brain surgery for seizures, couldn't remember performing tasks multiple times but still got better at them over time. This demonstrates that we have different types of memories.
  • Some memories are more prone to interference.
  • Our short-term memory is very small, and easily affected by distractions.
  • Mentally juggling too many things means we're more likely to make a memory error.
  • Stresses take up brain space, forcing us into mental multi-tasking.
  • Trying to work faster to compensate for distractions makes us more stressed.
  • Stress doesn't just affect memory retrieval – it makes it harder for our brains to solve problems.

The advice she gives is pretty simple: If you're forgetting things, just take some time for a mental reset. Do something else. Think about something other than the problem at hand. And don't try to "think harder" – this just makes the situation worse because it blocks the brain cells needed for mental retrieval.

Hope the video helps you if it's something you've been struggling with of late!

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


Tools & Apps

Bluedot — An AI-powered Chrome extension for Google Meet, to record, transcribe, and summarize your meetings with AI-generated notes adapted to your needs.

Dual Monitor Tools — A software package for Windows users that have dual or multiple monitor setups. All the tools are open source and free, and each tool is independent so you only need to install or run what you want.

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  

Jot — An iOS app that's a privacy friendly, everyday helper that has state-of-the-art voice recognition and AI-based suggestions for creating and organizing notes, lists, etc.

Anybox — A replacement for your browser’s bookmark manager, with support for iOS and macOS, offline search, and easy migration from browser bookmarks.

Stealth — A secure collaboration platform for businesses to store, share, and search your files in complete privacy, available for web and iOS.

Pumble — An all-in-one team collaboration app that features communication channels (similar to Slack), direct messaging, threaded conversations, file sharing, video conferencing, and more.

Articles & Resources

Is Your Team Overworking But Underperforming? — The author discusses two important areas of work: The performance zone and the learning zone. The latter can provide more enjoyable and effective work for teams and individuals.

How the 85% Rule Can Help You Succeed at Work — The rule in question apparently was popularized in track running, where maximum effort is discouraged in order to free up your abilities for a more relaxed but efficient approach.

Free Your Newsletters From the Inbox — The inbox is full of distractions and too many subscriptions lead to inbox chaos. Time to liberate your inbox and move to Meco, a newsletter aggregator built for reading.     sponsor  

How To Improve Attention Span and Productivity Amid Distractions — An in-depth look at the concept of a 'short attention span' followed by five practical suggestions for improving.

Task-Centric vs. Outcome-Centric: A Different Perspective on Productivity — This is excellent advice because it encourages you to look at the overall effect of what you're trying to achieve, rather than simply seeing a set of tasks to check off a list.

The Law of Diminishing Returns: How To Do More With Less — An article from early 2023, consider how Henry Ford used this law to increase the productivity of Ford workers with fewer working hours and how you can do the same.

Never Say “No,” But Rarely Say “Yes.” — From 2011, where the author gives an example of a job he did in the 1990s that he didn't expect to be accepted because his "yes" came with a big caveat.


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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