3 TED Talks to Help You Work Smarter, Starting Today!

November 6, 2014
3 TED Talks to Help You Work Smarter, Starting Today!

The Internet is full of great resources to help you maximise your productivity, and TED is a well-known repository of information.

This post will briefly outline (whilst trying not to spoil them!) three different TED talks that will help translators to work smarter.

Dan Ariely

What makes us feel good about our work? (20 minutes)

If you’ve ever found yourself demotivated, then this is a great presentation to consider. 

Ariely asks what makes people feel good about their work, and how rewards for completing work reflect this. Obviously, money is expected in exchange for completed work, but Ariely questions whether money alone is sufficient to motivate people.

He introduces an experiment where people were asked to create Lego models for a small amount of money. After completing a model, the people were then asked if they’d like to make another one for slightly less money. This continued until the person wanted to stop or the value of the model reached 0. 

One group had their models taken away from them and put out of sight after completion, whereas another group had their models disassembled in front of them. 

This experiment revealed that those who had their models disassembled before them were significantly less likely to make more Lego models compared to those who had the models taken away from sight. 

From this (and a few other experiments too), Ariely concludes that money is only a minor aspect of how humans value things, and things like meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity and pride are all very important too.

If you’re finding your work unfulfilling, perhaps this presentation will cause you to ask why that might be?

Arianna Huffington

How to succeed? Get more sleep (4 minutes)

Whilst this is a shorter talk than the others in this post, there is a lot of truth to its main claim: getting more sleep improves your working efficiency and general outlook.

Huffington claims that more sleep leads to better decision making, and it’s obvious that people are more alert when they’ve had better sleep. As a translator tasked with examining the details of a manuscript, this can only be a good thing!

This talk also questions why lack of sleep is seen as a good way to be more productive in our culture, and that our addiction to business instead of efficiency has a direct impact on our sleep hygiene.

Yves Morieux

As work gets more complex, 6 rules to simplify (12 minutes)

This talk is better suited to those who own or run a translation business rather than individual freelancers, but Morieux’s rules could still be applied personally too. 

Morieux believes that the increase in modern organisational complexity ultimately leads to a bigger workload and a disengaged workforce. To combat this, he suggests that organisations need to be simplified.

With this in mind, Morieux suggests implementing the following rules to help simplify your organisation:

  • 1. Understand what your people do
  • 2. Empower managers to make independent decisions
  • 3. Incorporate more people in the different aspects of your business (with the hope           that this will break self-insulation)
  • 4. Create feedback loops so that you’re more informed
  • 5. Increase reciprocity between different employees and their skills (this is different to     cooperation, as reciprocity highlights the importance of the individual’s ability)
  • 6. Reward those who cooperate to make cooperation the core of your business’               culture

Hopefully, these talks will give you some inspiration to help you work smarter, and please do share any ideas of thoughts in the comment section below.

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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