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Neuroscience Tells Us How to Be Productive


The science of the brain has much to tell us about how to be productive and how to lead others. Optimize your behavior at work, and increase your productivity, your team’s productivity, and your memory skills.

(Photo Credit: TZA/Flickr)

Create Positive Feedback Loops

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The stories we hear and tell about each other create “feedback loops.” These feedback loops can be positive or negative. Create a more productive work environment for your team first by looking for success stories about the team members.

Then, reinforce the positivity by recognizing the success. Make a point of thanking the team member in front of the group. Discuss with the group what is working well, not just what needs to be improved. When people get into positive feedback loops, they feel more empowered to be productive and succeed.

The opposite is true for negative feedback loops. Gossip and fault-finding make people hesitant to act, and hinder productivity.


For optimal productivity, both the physical and the virtual environments in which we work must be well designed. It may sound simple, but organization has a profound effect.

The physical environment affects how we think. A cluttered workspace results in cluttered and chaotic thinking, lack of physical organization results in lack of mental clarity. Therefore, to set up a workspace for optimal productivity, make sure your team has the space it needs to be organized. Everything has a place, and people need to know where to go to find resources and information. In your own cubicle or office, make it a priority to keep things organized.

An organized and well-thought-out environment is just as important in the virtual world. Employees communicate and work together via their tablets and smartphones; a cluttered virtual environment reduces productivity. On an individual basis, make certain your apps and electronic interface make sense to you and it is easy for you to find what you need. If you are responsible for a group interface, think it through. Leading others toward high productivity requires the ability to create online environments on webpages, calendars, and virtual workspaces that are as organized and easy to use as a neatly marked file cabinet.


Mnemonics are a fun and easy way to remember things. It sounds silly, but it is powerfully effective. One type of mnemonics are simple rhymes.

For example, you are at a meeting of new people, and you have a lot of names to remember. Perhaps you are mingling and would look odd taking notes. You may find little ways to remember people’s names.

Let’s say Bruce is an important contact but a casual dresser. “Bruce is loose with clothing choices.” When you are trying to remember his name, you remember casual dress: “loose with clothing choices — Bruce!”

Another important contact is Mary; she is quite short. “Mary can reach the berry bush, but not the apple tree.” Mary and berry rhyme, and may help you remember her name.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you encourage productivity and memory in your workplace? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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