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? 

  • I’ve always loved that Shawn Achor talk. He is HILARIOUS and full of wisdom. Thanks for the other recs!

    Danielle | D is for Dreamer

  • Everyone always talks about TED talks and I have not gotten into them yet (shame on me, I know)! But I cannot wait to watch!

  • I love TED talks and I do love searching through TED talks :)) Thanks for picking these up for us!


  • Love Ted Talks! One of my favorites is “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” by Mel Robbins. It is a little harsh, but she definitely has some great points! Thanks for sharing this post!


  • kate_quinn_1

    Hi Daryl! Thank you for this. I found myself gravitating towards the Ted Talk on Grit. I’ve been exposed to so many highly intelligent people who believe they should automatically be rich and successful. Because of their intelligence, there’s a sense of entitlement that stops them from working hard, and a belief and everything should happen for them with minimal effort. The laziness in that approach is what prevents so many opportunities for them. I myself have always been a fan of the quote “Work hard and be nice to people” – which has taken me farther than I ever thought possible.


  • Alyssa Mattison

    I loved these TED Talks & how universal they are. I think that at any age, being any gender or race, and in any profession, we can all find ways to relate. Thanks for sharing! Check out my favorite Talks here: