14 TED Talks That Will Make You Work Smarter, Not Harder | Scoro

14 TED Talks That Will Make You Work Smarter, Not Harder

The key to productivity in the workplace is to work smarter, not harder. Everyone needs a bit of inspiration now and then to keep doing that. Luckily, the ever so motivational TED Talks save the day.

As an experiment, we watched over 30 TED Talks. That’s almost 10 hours of talks given by leaders in the fields of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. Our goal was to find the most inspirational talks on the topics of work management, motivation and productivity.

Here are 14 of our best picks. Some are 3 minutes, others up to 20 minutes long. Each of the speakers is very different – however, they all assure us on the importance of working smartly, staying motivated and productive. Watch the talks at your own pace and if needed, bookmark this page to return to later.

Get ready to be inspired!

1. HOW TOO MANY RULES AT WORK KEEP YOU FROM GETTING THINGS DONE (16:38)

Modern work is about solving brand-new problems every day, flexibly and collaboratively. But too often, an overload of rules, processes and metrics keeps us from doing our best work together. Meet the new frontier of productivity: cooperation.

About the speaker:
Yves Morieux is the director of The Boston Consulting Group’s Institute for Organisation. He researches how corporations can adapt to a modern and complex business landscape.

2. GETTING THINGS DONE: THE ART OF STRESS-FREE PRODUCTIVITY (22:16)

An inspiring and educational look at the art of stress-free productivity. Learn practical ways you can be more appropriately engaged in your life.

About the speaker:
David Allen, the author of the bestselling Getting Things Done, is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority on personal and organisational productivity.

Read on: Top 21 Work Management Software for Efficient Work Management

3. THE HAPPY SECRET TO BETTER WORK (12:13)

We believe we should work hard to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and amusing talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that happiness inspires us to be more productive.

About the speaker:
Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology.

4. HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD OR AT LEAST YOURSELF FROM BAD MEETINGS (6:40)

An epidemic of bad, inefficient, overcrowded meetings is plaguing the world’s businesses — and making workers miserable. Here are some ideas on how to stop it.

About the speaker:
David Grady is an Information Security Manager. He is on a crusade to help you take back your calendar.

Read on: 12 Proven Tips for Effective Meeting Management

5. AS WORK GETS MORE COMPLEX, 6 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY (11:57)

Why do people feel so miserable and disengaged at work? Because today’s businesses are increasingly and dizzyingly complex, and traditional pillars of management are obsolete, says Yves Morieux. So, he says, it falls to individual employees to navigate the rabbit’s warren of interdependencies. In this energetic talk, Morieux offers six rules for “smart simplicity.”

About the Speaker:
BCG’s Yves Morieux researches how corporations can adapt to a modern and complex business landscape.

Scoro Work Management Software

6. HOW TO SUCCEED? GET MORE SLEEP (4:03)

In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity, happiness, and smarter decision-making.

About the speaker:
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books. She is the co-host of “Left, Right & Center,” a political roundtable radio program.

7. GRIT: THE POWER OF PASSION AND PERSEVERANCE (6:08)

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realised that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

About the speaker:
At the University of Pennsylvania, psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success.

Read on: How to Apply the Grit Psychology to Your Work

8. THE SURPRISING HABITS OF ORIGINAL THINKERS (15:24)

How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organisational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals” – thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals, including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas to get a few good ones.”

About the speaker:
After years of studying the dynamics of success and productivity in the workplace, organisational psychologist Adam Grant discovered a powerful and often overlooked motivator: helping others.

9. FORGET THE PECKING ORDER AT WORK (15:47)

Organisations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”

About the speaker:
The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns – like conflict avoidance and selective blindness – that lead organisations and managers astray.

10. WHY WORK DOESN’T HAPPEN AT WORK (15:13)

Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. He calls out the two main offenders (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make the workplace actually work.

About the speaker:
Software entrepreneur Jason Fried thinks deeply about collaboration, productivity and the nature of work. He’s the co-founder of 37signals, makers of Basecamp and other web-based collaboration tools, and co-author of “Rework.”

11. INSIDE THE MIND OF A PROCRASTINATOR (14:03)

Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window. It encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.

About the speaker:
With Wait But Why, blogger Tim Urban demonstrates that complex and long-form writing can stand out in an online wilderness choked with listicles and clickbait.

Read on: 89 Productivity Hacks to Crush Procrastination

12. THE POWER OF TIME OFF (17:32)

Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explains the often overlooked value of time off and shows the innovative projects inspired by his time in Bali.

About the speaker:
Renowned for album covers, posters and his recent book of life lessons, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister invariably has a slightly different way of looking at things.

13. HOW TO GET BETTER AT THE THINGS YOUR CARE ABOUT (11:22)

Working hard but not improving? You’re not alone. Eduardo Briceño reveals a simple way to think about getting better at the things you do, whether that’s work, parenting or creative hobbies. And he shares some useful techniques so you can keep learning and always feel like you’re moving forward.

About the speaker:
Learning expert Eduardo Briceño is a learner, leader, speaker and writer devoted to enabling a more learning-oriented world.

14. SUCCESS IS A CONTINUOUS JOURNEY (3:47)

In his typically candid style, Richard St. John reminds us that success is not a one-way street, but a constant journey. He uses the story of his business’ rise and fall to illustrate a valuable lesson – when we stop trying, we fail.

About the speaker:
Richard St. John is a Marketer and Success Analyst. A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, he spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success, and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.


Let us know which of these TED talks is your favourite, or if you have any other inspirational talks or thoughts to add!

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