Category: Research (page 1 of 2)

FlowLight: How a Traffic-Light Reduces Interruptions at Work

I am extremely happy to announce our newest project, FlowLight, a traffic-light-like light for knowledge workers to reduce their interruptions at work, and makes them more productive! The research project, published with the title “Reducing Interruptions at Work: A Large-Scale Field Study of FlowLight”, was conducted in close collaboration with researchers at ABB. It was also awared with an Honorable Mention award.

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David Allen: Why you should keep things off your mind to get into “the zone”

What is productivity? Many would describe it as the time you spend in “the zone” when you get things done. The time you are fully present, totally engaged with what happens, time you spend in the productive flow. But how to get there? David Allen, one of the responsible people that elicited my interest in researching productivity, talked about his time-management method getting things done in on TED a few years back.

Being appropriately engaged with what is going on

The secret to stress-free productivity, according to Allen, is to be totally committed and engaged with just a single thing at a time. The more that is on your mind at the same time, the more inappropriately you are engaged, and the less you can focus on just doing the thing you should be doing. It may sound counter intuitive or even awkward, but the key to being able to fully engage with the current project/task is to park everything unrelated to the task on a separate list that you regularly revisit in the right time and trust that it lets you never forget a thought or idea.

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Spending time in the mountains makes you happy

According to an Austrian Psychologist, people who regularly go for hikes in the mountains are happier. The positive effect already starts after 3+ hours and reduces negative feelings such as fear of failing or lack of energy.

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Why there is no “I don’t have time for that”

We all have this in common: We live in a busy world. And we all have got the same 24 hours to spend. While (at least in theory) we can choose what to spend our time on, most of us are always in a hurry. And we often excuse ourselves with: “I don’t have time for that.” But that’s not entirely true…

I was regularly thinking or saying “I don’t have time for that.”. Was. Until I saw a Ted talk by Laura Vanderkam, a time management expert, who studies how busy people spend their lives. She discovered that extremely busy people, such as a woman with multiple kids, a houshold to take care of and a very successful career, still had time to go for a hike on a Wednesday – a weekday!

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Cope with Stress and Control your Performace in any Environment

In my strive to make people more productive, less stressed and generally happier at work, I’ve found an interesting article on Business Insider who interviewed Eric Potterat, a former head psychologist for the US Navy SEALs. He mentions that one similarity of “elite people”, whether they are athletes or military members, is how they cope with stress. He describes that people who control stress can control their performance in any environment, and that anyone can learn it and turn it into a habit.

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How you can become more active at work

Are you often feeling stressed during your work days? Do you never really find the time to do sports and train your body? You are not alone, but there are many easy things to be more active and healthy at work.

Walk-Meetings

Meetings don’t have to be held in a dark and boring meeting room. Get your meeting partner(s) up and go out to take a walk. I usually take paper and pen with me (yes, they still exist! 🙂 ) to take notes.

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Multitasking is Bad for your Productivity and could be Damaging your Brain

Are you a multi-tasker? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your work habits.

I personally know many who are proud to be able towork on several tasks at the same time, as they “get more stuff done than others”. However, research has found out that multi-tasking is actually less productive than doing just one thing at a time. Here is why:

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Kevin Kelly: Humans are good at inefficiency, Productivity is for Robots

I’ve just watched an incredibly interesting TED Talk by Kevin Kelly, who explains why technological progress is inevitable and why robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will not kill all our jobs.

Much like our strive to make things faster, easier and more convenient couldn’t prevent the phone or internet to be ‘invented’, broad use of AI systems are inevitable. That’s why Kelly suggests us to “embrace AI to steer it”.

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Be productive like a boss with ambient background noise

Are you working in an open-space office with a lot of background noise? Can you just focus better if you hear your background mumble, like in a coffee shop? Or are you more relaxed when you hear birds sing or the sound of water?

Then, Noisli is for you! Noisli is a free and very simple service that lets you enable/disable different sounds to listen in the background. You can choose from birds, forest, wind, sea, fire, train waggons, coffee shop, and so on.

I’ve been using Noisli for the past 1-2 years and I’ve found it extremely helpful in times where I have a hard time to focus on my task. Also I cannot listen to music for a whole day when I am in the office, but I can listen to birds much longer.

I recommend everyone to try it out 🙂

How Stress is affecting your Decision-Making

The World Economic interviewed Guideon Nave, researcher at Warthon, on the impact of stress on how fast and how good we make decisions.

Find the transcript on the WEF website and learn why you should not go to the supermarket when you are stressed and what a baseball bat math quiz helps to analyze reactions of stress.

Office Delve Analytics to learn how to manage your time effectively

Where does my time go? How much time do I ‘waste’ with emails or ineffective meetings?

Delve Analytics is an interesting free feature for Office 365 users that helps you analyze how much time you spend in meetings, with emails and with whom you communicate how often. This helps you gain insights on how well your activities align with your top priorities and helps you to self-monitor your behavior at work.

More information can be found in this infographic.

Creative hobbies can boost productivity

An interesting read on TheNextWeb summarizes recent research which has shown that actively pursuing hobbies in the spare time is not only fun and helps with work-life balance, but can also boost productivity and the IQ. These include playing an instrument, playing strategy games and exercise regularly.

Read more on TheNextWeb.com.

Exploratory Study on Developer’s Personal Retrospections of their Work in Vancouver

I just arrived back home in Switzerland after a two week trip to Vancouver, Canada. Together with a work colleague from our s.e.a.l. research group, we conducted two studies (one each) on analyzing and improving developer’s effectiveness. Both studies were exploratory studies where we wanted to follow our ideas and explore their applicability and if developers would be willing to use our prototypes over two weeks or more. This is how the two studies looked:

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Criteria for Selecting a Site for Building a Sustainable Data Center

In the fall semester 2014 I participated in a course at UZH where we learnt more about sustainability in the information technology environment. Part of the course was to write a short fact sheet discussing a selected topic.

My fact sheet consisted of a short summary of criteria one needs to take into consideration when selecting a suitable site for building a sustainable cloud data center. Click here if you want to have a very short and concise summary of the topic.

Survey: The Role of Music During Your Software Engineering Work

In some domains, studies have shown that music can improve the productivity of workers for some tasks. We invite you to participate in our survey about the role music plays during your software engineering work. Your answers will help us to find out more on how to improve developer productivity.

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