As a lover of TED Talks, it’s only natural for me to look to them whenever I want to learn more about a certain topic, see a topic from different perspectives or just experience some new ideas about life.
When it comes to productivity, there are a whole bunch of TED Talks out there to help you be more productive. But, rather than just look for the ones that were straight up about productivity, I decided to share some of my favourite TED Talks that have lessons in them that inadvertently make you more productive.
Their lessons apply to many different aspects of life, allow to to realise you are in control, and help you to beat procrastination, take control, and be more productive.
These are some of my favourites. Be sure to save this page for later (or feel free to binge watch them all right now).
1 – 3 Ways To Make Better Decisions – By Thinking Like A Computer – Tom Griffiths
Is it just me or do we all have problems making decisions? If you’re a fellow decision making avoider like I am, this talk is for you!
Cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths talks about how we can more easily make decisions in our lives by applying the logic of computers in various aspects of your life, from where to eat dinner to how to declutter your wardrobe.
Any opportunity to take less time to make a decision and use computer logic sounds like a winner to me.
2 – All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes – Andy Puddicombe
When is the last time you took just 10 minutes to do nothing?
Such a simple question, but one that so many of us would struggle to answer. I have to admit, I suck at meditation, but it’s something I’m working on – increasing my focus/relaxation and being more mindful.
When he speaks about being anxious about feeling anxious… that’s something so many of us can relate to (clearly, it’s not just me). This reinforces how important it is to include mindfulness in our day to day lives.
We can all spare 10 minutes out of our days to increase our mindfulness – and this time will actually lead to an increase in productivity with a focus on actually completing tasks rather than just being caught up in ‘busy’.
3 – An ER Doctor On Triaging Your ‘Crazy Busy’ Life – Darria Long
The words we use matter and ‘crazy busy’ is a phrase we have all used at some point. But did you know that by simply saying ‘crazy busy’ you’re preparing yourself to not actually be able to handle what is coming your way?
You can be busy, without being crazy, and be in ready mode instead. As someone who works in the Emergency Medical field, I can relate to the triaging system in your life and it’s easy for you to implement too.
Simply triaging different areas of your life can make a world of difference to that feeling of overwhelm, especially when you start moving more tasks to the ‘Green’ category.
4 – Can We All ‘Have It All’? – Anne-Marie Slaughter
How often are we caught up in the question of how we should balance our work and career goals and our family life? How do we choose what is most important to us?
And as mothers, what does male and female equality really mean? Does having women in high powered jobs represent real male and female equality?
Fantastic talk about the often unspoken side of the gender equality debate and how it relates to our lives, our ‘balance’ and therefore our productivity.
5 – Dear Overwhelmed Moms, Self-Care Isn’t Selfish – Liz Carlile
You know I am the Queen of ‘you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself’ and that you literally just go into ‘limp’ mode if you don’t look after yourself. You stick with autopilot – barely doing the things you need to get by without actually being productive. You just ‘exist’.
‘Mothers not only could, but should be more selfish.’ Yes, yes, yes!!!
Seriously, this is something I advocate for so darn much! What can you do to feel whole and ready for your days? Have you ever actually thought about what it is that fills your cup and brings you joy? It might take a few trials for figure out what it is that you need.
Self care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. What you do for you each and every day changes everything and actively taking care of yourself can help you cope with overwhelm and help you to be more productive!
6 – From Clutter To Clarity – Kerry Thomas
Our need for ‘stuff’ has lead us to actually feeling overwhelmed. But clutter isn’t just the ‘stuff’ – it can be so much more than just the physical things. It can be digital, emotional, and so much more.
“Clutter is postponed decisions” – how much clutter do you have? And what does that clutter actually say about you?
Postponed decisions are the same as procrastinating – it all leads to a lack of productivity. A ‘future you’ problem. Clearing the clutter, making the decisions now, means present you is doing the best you can for future you (and future you will thank you for it).
7 – Getting Rid Of The Unnecessary To Get Down To Basics – Colin Wright
While this talk isn’t directly about productivity (like many on this list) the lessons within will help you be more productive in different areas of your life.
A highly entertaining TED Talk from Colin who travels the world and changes the country he lives in every 4 months.
From contemplating renting an apartment just to store his stuff while he travelled, Colin changed his mindset to create an intentional life that doesn’t just focus on the physical possessions in our life, but our relationships and the people we allow in our life, our work and everything that happens in our lives.
8 – Getting Stuck In The Negatives (And How To Get Unstuck) – Alison Ledgerwood
I don’t have time. I’m too busy. I wish there were more hours in the day. Sound familiar? These are all negatives.
I’m so glad I’m not the only person who gets stuck on negatives – it’s such a natural thing to do, especially as a people pleaser. How many times have you experienced this yourself?
My husband and I were discussing the successes we had and how often we quickly adapt to our successes and chase the next one, but we hold on to negatives for so much longer.
You have to work to see the upside. This is such a great talk to shake up how you approach your day and reframe how you talk about things in your life. Focusing more on the good things than the negatives and making more of an effort to see the upside.
Focus on what you can do with your time, what you do have control over, and use the time you have to be productive, instead of focusing on the time you don’t have or wish you had.
9 – How To Change Your Behaviour For The Better – Dan Ariely
What friction do you have in the decisions you make in your life?
Removing friction from your decisions can help you make decisions faster, and hopefully, eliminate the need to make decisions at all in some cases (we make SO MANY decisions each day).
Understanding why and how you make decisions can help you to make decisions for the better and to use your own motivation to help you live your best life. When it comes to organizing our life and being more productive, motivation and behaviours play a huge part.
This is a super interesting TED Talk about just that.
10 – How To Gain Control Of Your Free Time – Laura Vanderkam
Are you always looking for little pockets of time in the day to do all the things you love? Maybe you’ve got it the wrong way around.
I’m a massive advocate for figuring out the things you want to do in your life, and building the rest of your day around that (especially when it comes to self care!).
This is the key to being productive – creating a day that works around what you want, what you need, and how to make it happen by taking control of your time.
11 – How To Overcome Overwhelmed – Terry Brock
The first step to tackling overwhelm is actually understanding that you are in control.
You are in control of your life, what you allow in, what you say no to, and the filters you place in your daily life. I seriously love his approach to ‘I don’t know how to do that’ and reprogramming our thought process to say ‘not yet’ instead.
Rather than hiding away from the world and removing yourself from technology in order to reduce overwhelm, learn how you can use the tools available to you in order to overcome overwhelm, beat procrastination, and become more productive.