The psychology of unfinished tasks

Unfinished tasks can feel overwhelming, leading to procrastination and slowing your progress. On the other hand, the annoyance of having all of these unfinished tasks on your to-do list may motivate you to tackle them at the next opportunity. These contradictory experiences are due to two effects: the Zeigarnik effect and the Ovsiankina effect. A …

Read more

Temptation bundling: how to stop procrastinating by boosting your willpower

You know you should be working on that presentation, but you’ve been procrastinating. To make things worse, the latest season of your favourite show has just dropped on Netflix. Luckily, making progress on your work and indulging in activities you enjoy is not only compatible, it can make you more productive. That’s called temptation building. …

Read more

Servant leadership: why being a servant leader is worth the work

Servant leadership may sound antithetic. Isn’t the role of a leader to guide and manage, rather than follow and serve? However, being a leader and being of service are not only compatible, their combination can lead to better outcomes than the sum of their parts. Instead of blindly following organisational goals, servant leaders prioritise the …

Read more

How to design a sustainable workplace at home and in the office

You are likely to spend around 90,000 hours at work over your lifetime. If that number doesn’t seem big already, that’s ten years of your life. Depending on where you work, you may have little agency over the design of your workplace — hospital workers and flight attendants are rarely consulted when it comes to …

Read more

Productivity addiction: when we become obsessed with productivity

The business and productivity app market is worth billions of dollars. Every day, there is a new productivity tool popping up, a book about productivity being published, and millions of people reading and sharing content related to personal productivity. It started as a measure of efficiency for the production of goods and services. Somehow, along …

Read more

Using the goal gradient hypothesis to help people cross the finish line

Our perception of progress can impact our overall drive to reach a goal. The goal gradient hypothesis posits that our efforts increase as we get closer to achieving a goal: when the reward is in sight, we feel incentivised to reach the finish line. Designers and decision-makers can effectively use goal gradients as a motivational …

Read more

How to manage “Can I pick your brain?” requests

You open your inbox, see an email from someone unfamiliar, read it, and see the dreaded “Can I pick pick your brain?” request. No context, no offer to compensate you for your time, just this vague demand to extract value from you without contributing anything in return. What are some ways you can reply to …

Read more

The MoSCoW method of prioritization

Whether you are trying to decide which product feature to ship first, or what task to place at the top of your to-do list, it can sometimes be hard to decide on the right prioritization. That’s when a strategic approach can be helpful. The MoSCoW method is a simple, effective way to bring order to …

Read more

Is there a perfect productivity system?

Every year, dozens of new productivity systems pop up, each of them promising a more efficient, better way to work. And, every day, people try one of these new systems in the hope of better managing their work as well as their mental health. Talk to any knowledge worker and they will have tried at …

Read more

The willpower paradox: when confident self-talk becomes counterproductive

We all have used self-talk to motivate ourselves. “I will meditate everyday”, “I will start going to the gym”, “I will complete this coding course”… It gives us a boost in confidence and the conviction that we will achieve our goals. Such self-talk sounds harmless, but research suggests we may benefit from being a little …

Read more