What Are The 5 Best TED Talks for Productivity?

Everyone has their favourite TED Talk. Whether it’s an uber-famous Talk or it’s a really old one from back in the day – they sure are memorable. But they’re not just memorable – they’re also inspiring. So, if you’re facing the doldrums of the office on a Monday afternoon, tackling writer’s block for the umpteenth time this week or are stuck in a procrastination rut – these are the TED Talks for you right now. After all, TED is all about spreading ideas…

Getting Things Done – David Allen

David Allen is the mastermind behind GTD (here’s an article on GTD 101 if you’re new to the concept) and in this talk he asks if you’ve you ever been amidst a crisis but somehow found your ‘Zone’- something Allen calls a ‘productive flow’. Allen then asks: “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could experience peace and productive engagement without having the danger and stress of a crisis?” Well, “it’s possible” he says, and he then drops the bombshell that “getting things done isn’t about getting things done.”

Key Quote: ‘Crisis evokes Serenity’


Arianna Huffington: How to Succeed? Get More Sleep

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and this is one of those ‘back in the day’ talks I mentioned earlier. However, in a very short, but sweet talk, Huffington manages to capture the importance of catching 40 winks on a regular basis. She tells the story of a very brutal ‘awakening’ that caused her to consider the importance of sleep and the role it plays in productivity and success. She argues that getting enough sleep will allow you have a more joyful, inspired and productive life. In her eyes, sleep deprivation one-upmanship should be a thing of the past in order for us to make better decisions in the future.

Key Quote: “The essence of leadership is being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic. And we’ve had far too many icebergs hitting our Titanics.”

Yves Morieux: How Too Many Rules at Work Keeps you From Getting Things Done

Morieux dives in at the deep-end at the start of his Talk by highlighting the fact that all of the problems we’re facing at the moment stem from the productivity crisis we’re all currently experiencing. This crisis, he says, are the result of the basic tenets about efficiency: “effectiveness in organisations, in management — have become counter-productive for human efforts”. From then on, he delves into an illustrative metaphor highlighting, yet again that slow and steady wins the race. This, he argues, is all down to cooperation.

Key Quote: “ The miracle of cooperation: it multiplies energy, intelligence in human efforts. It is the essence of human efforts: how we work together, how each effort contributes to the efforts of others. With cooperation, we can do more with less.”

Andy Puddicombe: All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes

I’ve mentioned Andy’s talk on the blog before because meditation really is the next best thing – happening now. In his insightful and engaging talk, Andy manages to convince you that meditation is the way forward using both his skills as a juggler (need I say more) and his old job. He used to be a monk! (Even though nowadays Andy’s a really successful businessman, he still knows what he’s talking about). He gets the ball rolling by asking the simple yet powerful question: “when is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes?” Well? When did you?

Key Quote: “I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.”

Tim Ferriss: Smash Fear, Learn Anything

Hailed a ‘productivity-guru’ by TED themselves, Ferriss’ talk encourages people to achieve more through colourful anecdotes and by asking the question “What’s the worst that could happen?”. But the author of The 4-Hour Workweek doesn’t just want you to get more done, he wants to make you feel like you can do anything. His honest and funny accounts of learning to swim, speak Japanese and ballroom dance are incredibly motivating. You’ll either find new energy to finish that project or for something more drastic that you’ve been putting off for years!

Key Quote: I would love to speak with you. I know nothing. I’m a beginner. But I ask a lot of questions, and I would love your advice.” and, as a bonus: “That is when I realized that I was not the Incredible Hulk.”

These are just some of the seemingly countless talks on productivity out there, but with millions of views between them, it makes you think that the speakers must know their stuff. What did you think of the talks above? Do you have a favourite? Why? Let me know in the comments below!

Image: TED, YouTube