TED Talks for research productivity


Lyn Lavery It feels like winter in New Zealand has well and truly settled in. If you were thinking of spending the next few months tucked up warm in bed watching your favourite Netflix series, think again. Try keeping yourself warm by making some progress on your research instead! I’ve been busy compiling resources for our new Thesis Boot Camp and have been reflecting on my own productivity and things I could improve on. If you’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on your own working habits, here’s some videos to get you thinking...

How to achieve your most ambitious goals / Stephen Duneier

I love the key message in this video – make a conscious decision to start with something small and then build on it. If your research project currently seems overwhelming, pick a small task to start with and build momentum from there. Let’s face it, your research isn’t going to be completed overnight, so start out by taking a small step forward and you’ll soon be racing towards the finish line.

It’s not about reading 50 books, it’s not even about reading one book, it’s not about reading a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence. It’s about that decision when you’re sitting at your desk … you pick a book and you read one word.

Stephen Duneier

A more human approach to productivity / Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey spent an entire year “experimenting” on himself to discover what made the biggest difference to his productivity. His conclusion may just surprise you! For me, the take home message of the video isn’t necessarily what worked for Chris, it’s about “experimenting” with yourself to find out what works best for you personally. He finishes with some down to earth, practical tips for productivity that we could all benefit from.

Maybe the biggest idea that this experiment taught me, was that productivity is so much more than managing our time … I would argue that there are other ingredients that deserve to sit on the same level as managing our time, and our attention is one of them.

Chris Bailey

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator / Tim Urban

I thought I was a master procrastinator myself, until I watched this highly entertaining talk from Tim Urban. My own procrastination doesn’t quite match his level, but there were still some useful things to think about. The “instant gratification monkey” and “the panic monster” are useful analogies to understand your own behaviour and make some positive changes.

We need to think about what we’re really procrastinating on, because everyone is procrastinating on something in life. We need to stay aware of the instant gratification monkey, that’s a job for all of us … and it’s probably a job you should start today.

Tim Urban

How to make stress your friend / Kelly McGonigal

Is stress the enemy, or is it your perception of stress that’s the issue? It’s likely that you’ll get stressed at some point when you’re completing research – things usually don’t go to plan, and time pressures are constantly on us. So perhaps rather than trying to remove the stress, we just need to view stress differently.

Hopefully the next time your heart is pounding from stress, you’re going to remember this talk, and you’re going to think to yourself, this is my body helping me rise to this challenge. And when you view stress in that way, your body believes you and your stress response becomes healthier.

Kelly McGonigal

The power of habit / Charles Duhigg

If you’re thinking about improving your research productivity, you might need to change a few bad habits! There’s some great advice in Charles Duhigg’s talk on willpower and how we can use this to change our habits – what I particularly liked was that his ideas were solidly based on research. Whether you’re trying to spend less time on social media or want to eat healthier to improve your energy levels for your research, this talk will give you some ideas for understanding and changing those habits.

If you decide ahead of time, if you engage in this mindfulness in your life where you’re aware of what’s driving these nearly sub-conscious behaviours … we know from study after study you have the ability to change any habit in your life.

Charles Duhigg