For most of us, the struggle to be productive when we want to be and when we are expected to be can seem endless.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to being productive, and there certainly isn't a finish that guarantees we'll get it right every time. Productivity is something we'll have to continue working on for the rest of our lives.
But that doesn't mean we can't get better at it. We're always curious how other people stay productive so they can live a more balanced life. What tips do productivity experts and successful people have for focusing on what matters and accomplishing their goals?
Whether you're looking for advice or just like to listen to a great interview, we've curated a list of seven awesome podcast episodes about productivity for you to check out. Bookmark them for your next commute (or use the free app Stitcher to make a playlist to listen to later).
7 Fascinating Podcast Episodes About Productivity
1) The Productivity Show: "A Year of Productivity w/ Chris Bailey"
You can't be productive if you're not also deliberate about what you want to accomplish. Because, of course, how can you invest in your productivity if you don't know and you don't decide what you're being productive on?"
Ever wanted to conduct a productivity experiment on yourself? Before you do, save yourself some time by listening to this episode -- Chris Bailey's probably already done it for you.
After graduating from college in May 2013, Bailey declined two full-time job offers to dedicate a full year of his life to exploring his obsession: productivity. During that year, he conducted productivity experiments on himself, like living in total isolation for 10 days, using a smartphone for only an hour a day for three months, waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, and working 90 hours a week.
In this episode, he talks about that year of his life -- and offers us his three ingredients for productivity: energy, attention, and time. (For further reading, you can check out Bailey's website, www.ayearofproductivity.com, which houses the results of all his productivity experiments.)
Length: 53 min.
2) HBR's Ideacast: "Take Control of Your Time"
No matter how many times we went to hope that we have more than 24 hours in a day or seven days in a week, the truth is, time is the ultimate democracy. Rich or poor, young or old, male or female, we’ve got the same amount. The first step to managing that better and having realistic expectations is to embrace the truth and work within our capacity instead of trying to work against reality."
Time is not a renewable resource -- and yet, we all seem to think we can get more done than we actually can. How can we start to set expectations that are more realistic and achievable? What are the best steps we can take to start controlling the chaos?
In this interview with Elizabeth Grace Saunders, founder and CEO of Real Life E and author of The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment, you'll learn how to embrace the reality of our time constraints, what signs to look out for that you’re over-allocating time to work, and how to change our mental patterns to prioritize what really matters.
Length: 17 min.
3) Stuff You Should Know: "Are We Obsessed With Goals?"
A stretch goal is a virtually unattainable goal you give to your employees to shake them out of their ruts -- which isn't great. Aubrey Daniels argue that stretch goals aren't good for your company because, when people in departments fail to reach their goals, research shows there's a performance decline afterward."
"Set goals and meet them, or be unsuccessful." That's what many of us were taught from a very young age. But in some contexts, goal-setting can actually be harmful and a hindrance to getting stuff done.
In this episode, co-hosts Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark explore the West's goal-obsessed culture and its beginnings in organizational psychology. They talk about what goals are and how they differ from ambition and intention, why they work and how to achieve them, and why it's sometimes best for your productivity and performance not to set them at all.
Length: 40 min.
4) The Tim Ferriss Show: "How to Avoid the Busy Trap (And Other Misuses of Your Time)"
A good man will not waste himself upon mean and discreditable work or be busy merely for the sake of being busy. Neither will he, as you imagine, become so involved in ambitious schemes that he will have continually to endure their ebb and flow."
Tim Ferriss -- best-selling author of The Four-Hour Workweek, among other works -- is known for being a big fan of Stoicism, the philosophy that one can endure pain and hardship without displaying feelings or complaining. In other words, you can't always choose your experiences, but you can choose how you experience your experiences. Theoretically, nothing can stop you from being creative, productive, or successful. Ferriss calls it "a simple and immensely practical set of rules for better results with less effort."
In this unique episode from his podcast, Ferriss doesn't do his normal interviews or monologues. Instead, he reads an excerpt from one of his favorite Roman Stoic philosophers, Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
The letter is called "On the Futility of Half-way Measure," and in it, Seneca talks about how we spend our time -- one of the biggest stresses for all people, especially entrepreneurs. Then, he encourages listeners to think about ways to adapt Seneca's wisdom to their own lives.
Length: 20 min.
5) Louder Than Words: "The Austin Kleon Episode"
So much of accessing that creative mind is about not being serious. It's about not being so uptight, and about loosening up and letting yourself go and diving into that kind of playful sub-conscious."
Litmus' John Bonini is the host of Louder Than Words, a podcast that gives listeners a glimpse into the lives and creative processes of some remarkable people. One such remarkable person is Austin Kleon, whom you might know as the author of Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!, or for his infamous "newspaper blackout poems" (see below).
Image Credit: Austin Kleon
In this episode, Bonini and Kleon talk about breaking creative ruts, the importance of being boring, how Kleon collects ideas, and how you should let nothing get in the way of your work.
The episode is funny, endearing, and above all, useful. Bonini, who credits Kleon for the reason he started the podcast to begin with, is in his element as a host -- and Kelon is as direct and compelling as ever.
Length: 1 hr. 11 min.
6) Radiolab: "Me, Myself & My Muse"
The source of her ideas was outside her. She could get some distance from it -- maybe negotiate with it, even fight with it -- instead of beating herself up all the time."
This episode is about ending the anxiety that comes with the pressure to be creative, and being liberated by your own creativity. And it all starts with an insane story about overcoming writer's block ...
Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks made a dangerous bargain with creativity: In 1968, when he was struggling to finish his first book, he told himself that if he didn't finish his book in 10 days, he would kill himself. It was crazy, but it worked -- in fact, he finished a day early.
That story got the hosts of Radiolab thinking: Is there a bargain you can make with your creative self that somehow avoids this terrible cost?
The rest of the episode features an interview with the always-fun, always-artistic Liz Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Eat Pray Love. She spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to, as she puts it, "live a lifetime of creativity without cutting your ear off." Her big revelation came when she began to think of her inner source of ideas and inspirations as a being separate from herself -- an entity she calls her "muse." In the episode, she gives advice on how to battle with your muse, and tells us why she believes your muse wants you to fight back.
Length: 15 min.
7) The Growth Show: "Unconventional Habits of Highly Productive People"
Productive people govern their own minds in a way most of us don’t. They see these choices that most of us don’t even know are there. They get more done with less stress and waste."
How do some people and companies manage to be so much more productive than others? Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer-winning journalist for The New York Times, spent five years researching that very question before writing his latest book: Smarter Faster Better.
This episode of The Growth Show features an interview with Duhigg, where he reveals things that normal people like you and me can start doing today to work smarter, faster, and better. You'll learn how to build mental models and envision your success, and how to choose better goals and make better choices and decisions.
Length: 34 min.
What are your favorite podcasts about productivity? Share with us in the comments.
Take a look at Medium, and you’ll find a passionate community of smart people who love great content: you’ll see commenters, sharers, and writers who are seeking out a forum to share their thoughts. Founded by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in 2012, Medium has created an entire social media ecosystem around thoughtful, engaging content. And now, the company is opening its doors to publishers who are seeking new opportunities to reach new audiences.
Enter Medium for Publishers, “a new corner of the Internet specifically designed for people and publishers who want to experience a deeper level of discourse and engagement.” The new platform gives media companies new tools to express their own identities on the platform.
So why should media companies take note of this new opportunity? For one, Medium is a new, untapped content distribution channel that creates a sustainable way for publishers to reach new audiences. Long story short, here’s what you need to know.
Publisher-Friendly Distribution & Monetization Features
As a recent article from Fortune points out, Medium’s goal is to give publishers a “one stop shop” to reach new audiences with great content. That being said, key features of the future include the ability to plug in sponsored content and manage reader memberships. In other words, media companies can start testing ideas for monetization without needing to build an entire sponsored content offering from scratch.
As Williams explained in a recent interview for AdAge, monetization features on Medium for Publishers are still in their planning stages. The company is currently researching how brands are using the platform for content marketing—data that publishers will find valuable when developing new marketing programs for advertisers, from the ground up.
“I think long-term we definitely see ourselves as a marketplace for brands and publishers to find each other in an efficient way and to do things together,” says Williams for AdAge.
While new revenue opportunities aren’t yet available, there are initiatives on the horizon. For instance, Medium has created a private beta for select publishers who are looking to take advantage of the platform, early. You can learn more and see if you’re eligible here.
The Opportunity to Build a Brand
Media companies can think of Medium for Publishers as a new door for audience growth that’s being cracked open: it won’t happen overnight, but the publishers who invest in the platform early will reap some of the strongest rewards long-term.
What Medium has brought to market now is a series of branding tools that publishers can leverage to build their identities. Now, when you establish a presence on Medium, you can differentiate your unique brand from the many voices who are on the platform. Here’s how Medium can help you build and optimize your relationships with your reader-base:
- Design your homepage with your unique colors and logo so that your media brand is instantly recognizable.
- Create your own custom domain so that your content is easy to find in one central hub.
- Send personalized email newsletters to your existing fans and followers by importing contacts from Facebook and Twitter.
Medium has also built in several moving pieces that often slip through the cracks for publishers: SEO and media rights. Instead of letting these topics rest in a gray area, the social network has built these topics into its new offering. You own the rights to your content, and you won’t need to take extra steps to make sure that it’s visible to search engines.
Medium is giving publishers a brand new platform to extend their reach and build a brand among smart audiences of avid-readers. You can even monetize your content directly on the platform. But ultimately, it’s important to treat Medium as one piece of your overall puzzle and continue to build a funnel back to your company. Some extra steps that you’ll want to take:
- Capture email addresses whenever possible, to continue to maintain a 1:1 relationship with your readers (so that you can collect their data to build your own database, too).
- In addition to bringing your branding to Medium, make sure to generate visibility around your products and services. If you’re hosting a conference or looking to promote your education products, Medium can be a powerful channel for generating awareness.
For a quick guide to mastering Medium, check out this podcast here. It features an interview with Sophie Moura, head of B2B partnerships at Medium, with detailed tips for how to build a content strategy. As you would imagine, you’ll want to do the following in your strategy:
- Invest in quality stories that generate comments and conversations.
- Treat Medium as a distribution channel, in addition to a hub.
- Focus on tactics to get noticed.
The Bottom Line
An investment in Medium is an investment in your media brand. Don’t just tinker: use the tools that Medium has created to your advantage. Take steps now to prepare for up-and-coming opportunities that will help your content get noticed. Pave the path for new monetization sources along the way.
Depending on the size, management style, and overall culture of the company you work at, you may have to deal with some workplace rules that can leave you feeling a bit frazzled.
Of course, codifying rules is often necessary for helping to keep everyone focused on the same goals -- especially as a company grows larger. That being said, rules don't always have a positive effect on the workplace. From restricting access to certain websites, to forbidding employees from wearing attire that's (arguably) outlandish, companies can sometimes go a bit overboard when writing their rule books.
The team at CashNetUSA recently created an infographic that highlights six of the most annoying workplace rules that employees have to deal with. What's more, the infographic provides tips and best practices for coping with these rules so that they don't interfere with your happiness or productivity.
What are your thoughts on the workplace rules shown in the infographic above? Leave a comment below.
Vietnamese Facebook users had problems accessing the popular social network over the past weekend, apparently due to an ongoing protest that the government has been trying to suppress.
For the past two weekends in a row, hundreds of people have been protesting in Vietnam's two major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as in smaller cities like Nha Trang, Vung Tau and Da Nang.
Pity the poor brands struggling to deliver you piping hot content all day — this one included.
A number of news outlets and other companies running official pages on Facebook have been unable to post or schedule posts for most of the day on Wednesday Australian time, although posting to personal pages appears to be unaffected.
SEE ALSO: How Facebook could steal your face
The error message reads: "There was a problem updating your status. Please try again in a few minutes." For Mashable, the bug has affected pages in the U.S., Europe and Singapore, as well as in Australia.