All of us have experienced a little productivity lag here and there and we often attribute it to workload or burn out rather than our happiness level, our thoughts about stress, or our physical workplace.  The following  three TED talks show us that our thoughts on productivity are backwards. Discovering that happiness, stress, and the office environment play a different role in our productivity than we ever thought could make us happy, successful, positively stressed, uninterrupted powerhouses.

1. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work (12:20)

Happiness makes you more productive –

According to psychologist Shawn Achor, in this very entertaining TED talk, success depends on happiness, not the other way around. He says that people will never be happy if success is the determining factor for happiness because as we reach the point of success we push the marker again. So as we decide after getting the new job that success is now the promotion, we have delayed happiness again. Instead, he argues, that being happy first creates success because our brain functions better when we are happy. His suggestion for making ourselves happier, more positive, and therefore more successful people is following a daily ritual to boost positivity including gratitude journaling, exercise, and random acts of kindness for 21 days. Watch the inspiring talk below:

2. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend (14:29)

Stress is fuel –

Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal talks us through the idea that when we think stress is bad for us, it literally can be. However, when we think about stress as being helpful, our body’s reaction is the same as if it were experiencing happiness or courage. Our blood vessels do not constrict like they do in a traditional stress response and the only difference is where we view stress as a detriment or a positive. She encourages us to think of our stress response as our wingman, boosting your strength to get through the challenge we’re faced with. She also explains that part of our stress response creates a need for human connection, moving us to reach out to friends and family for support, and relieving stress in that process.  So next time you are overloaded with a large project at work, think of the stress you are feeling as boost of strength to power you through it. View the interesting Talk below.

2. Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Work is like sleep –

Software entrepreneur Jason Fried explains why people never say “the office” when asked “Where do you go when you need to get something done?” This TED talk will likely hit home for so many office workers, providing insight into why people sometimes go through an entire workday only to have found they’ve  accomplished nothing.  He shows us that work is like sleep in that it is phase-based, and employees (especially creatives, designers, writers, and developers) need long stretches of uninterrupted work just like we need long stretches of uninterrupted sleep. This enlightening Talk explains that most companies blame social media, TV, the internet for distracting employees when these are actually voluntary distractions we opt into between stretches of work. Managers and meetings are involuntary distractions, causing the most harm to our productivity. His remedies include “no talk days” once a week, utilizing passive communication like email so the employee can be distracted at their will, and cancelling the likely unnecessary meetings. See the whole Talk here: