5 TED Talks to Inspire Productivity This Summer

  • Copy by: Daryl Lindsey

It happens every year like clockwork: Summer rolls around and my productivity drops to a critical (or do I mean pitiful?) low. Crack it up to the warmer weather or the rediscovered desire to spend all of my time at the beach—summertime somehow makes conquering my to-do lists seem like a pipe dream.

Then this newfound lack of productivity somehow pushes its way into every other aspect of my life. I can’t let myself have fun, relax, or spend time with friends because I have too much to do, but I also never manage to put even a dent in that long list of necessary tasks. I’m not working, but I’m not having fun either. I like to call this the ultimate state of “blah.”

I know I can’t be the only one who experiences this—and if you’re like me, you might need a little mid-week inspiration to kick yourself into gear and help you charge full steam ahead towards the elusive ideal that is “work hard, play hard.”

So, here are five incredible TED Talks to inspire you to live a more productive, creative life this summer:

1. The Happy Secret to Better Work

“If happiness is on the other end of success, your brain never gets there.” -Shawn Achor

Psychologist Shawn Achor explores the meaning of success in this (hilarious) TED Talk, dissecting the way people often view success as a precursor to happiness. If we reverse this model, Achor explains, our happier selves will innately become more successful.

2. The Key to Success? Grit

“Live your life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” -Angela Lee Duckworth

What is grit? According to researcher and psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, grit is one’s perseverance for very long term goals. It is the ability to not lose sight of the bigger picture, no matter how stressful or difficult the journey. Research shows it is grit, not intelligence or talent, that leads to real success in life. The takeaway? It will be hard to get there, so keep your eye on the prize!

3. Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work

“You cannot ask somebody to be creative in 15 minutes and really think about a problem.” -Jason Fried 

While software entrepreneur Jason Fried’s talk is focused specifically on office productivity, there’s a lot we can learn from his observations about the typical American workday. For starters, we need to buckle down and eliminate interruptions and distractions if we want to do real, productive work. This is of course easier said than done, so check out Jason’s helpful tips on how to cut back on wasteful disturbances.

4. How to Make Work Life Balance Work

“We have to be responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries that we want in our lives.” –Nigel Marsh

Productivity isn’t just about having a successful day at the office. We all have responsibilities we need to tackle after we punch out for the day and neglecting these commitments can make us feel like our whole world has turned upside down. Australian author Nigel Marsh explains how we can prioritize our lives and find an ideal balance between work and home life.

5. How to Succeed? Get More Sleep

“This is a room full of Type-A women. This is a room full of sleep deprived women.” -Arianna Huffington

The advice isn’t new: Get more sleep, be more productive. Easy, right? Not really. Arianna Huffington (you may have heard of her from this little blog called The Huffington Postexpands upon why a good night’s sleep plays a crucial part in a woman’s productivity, and thereby in her success.  Okay, Arianna, you got me. I’m headed to bed tonight at 10 p.m. sharp.

What TED Talks Inspire you? What motivates you to get up and get going?