Category Archives: Psychology

Productivity and Reading, Is Reading Paper more Productive than Reading a Screen?

Reading paper isn’t more effective than reading a screen, but you’ll stick at reading paper longer, according to an interesting study in the journal of the American Psychological Association.

The study was investigating whether readers preferred to read from a screen or a book and which was the most effective at providing information.

The research showed that under fixed study time, reading from a screen was just as effective as reading paper at transferring information successfully. However, when people were allowed to choose their own length of study, they kept studying longer if they were reading paper than if they reading a screen.

We seem to exhibit better self control at knuckling down and concentrating on paper than on screens. This may be because reading from paper is slightly less tiring. I certainly find it so, though I find a good eReader to be as easy to read as paper.


Safe Employee Monitoring

A very interesting article in the Occupational Digest of the British Psychology Society this month about the potential dangers of monitoring your staff:

At Qlockwork, being in the time tracking business we are incredibly interested in this work and it doesn’t surprise us at all. If you are going to monitor your staff in any way you need to be very careful about it. That’s why we designed Qlockwork so that employees have control over what gets monitored and when. Employees can turn monitoring off and can review and control what will get reported about their time. Qlockwork is designed to make an employee’s life easier (who likes filling in timesheets?) Not feel mistrusted. Fundamentally, you do need your staff on your side.

Yes! And? Improv comedy can improve #productivity

according to Charlie Todd of @ImprovEvery. The key is agree and build (“yes, and”) rather than argue. I tend to agree. In our consultancy work we use a similar approach. Most ideas have something useful in them, even if they are not perfect or fully formed. Even the downright silly can have it’s uses (an individual’s enthusiasm if nothing else) . Your job is to find that useful part, incorporate it and build on it, not throw the whole thing out because there are elements of it you like less.

In Top 5 Regrets of the Dying: Working Too Hard

A very interesting article in the UK’s Guardian online newspaper last month on a book by an Australian palliative care nurse about the most common regrets voiced by dying folk in her care.

The top 5 regrets were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others”.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down”.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one”.

Would Free Milk Improve Office Productivity?

A new study by the Universities of Maine and South Australia found that “participants who consumed dairy products at least once per day had significantly higher scores on multiple domains of cognitive function compared with those who never or rarely consumed dairy foods, adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, lifestyle and dietary factors.” They also found that, in general, “…frequent dairy food intake is associated with better cognitive performance but underlying causal mechanisms are still to be determined.”

So, milk seems to make you brighter, but they don’t know why. We’re reminded of the really excellent free chocolate milk dispensed at Microsoft in the 90’s. Was it the secret of their success? These days the Google cafeteria does rather put Microsoft to shame and they do have unlimited free ice cream there. None of us have been to Facebook HQ so we can’t comment on the relative availability of dairy products, but we suspect Facebook is more about marketing and a great idea than sheer intellectual horsepower so perhaps they just don’t need that milk magic ;-)

Introverts May Be More Productive in a Quiet Workplace

There’s an interesting article in the Organisational Psychology Digest on a recent study suggesting introverts are more distracted by music and background noise than extraverts.

This matches our experience, so at Qlockwork we are probably all introverts at heart (IT folk, who would have guessed?) If we have something hard to work through, we like it to be as quiet as possible.

We tend to strongly encourage engineers to work from home for the day and unplug email if they have something they need to really concentrate on.

High Fat Diet Potentially Linked to Neuron Injury

An interesting article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation describes recent experiments on the effect of a high fat diet on rats and mice and, to a more limited extent, humans.

The interesting result was that consumption of a high fat meal (>60% fat) appeared to have the almost instant effect of causing inflammation and damage to the hypothalamus. Although after one meal the brain would heal itself, the healing became more limited on long term repetition.

I’m already regretting the buttered toast for breakfast.

Their summary “we report that, in rats and mice that are susceptible to DIO, consumption of a HFD rapidly induces neuron injury in a brain area critical for energy homeostasis. Although local responses appear to limit this injury, recovery is transient, eventually giving way to chronic inflammation, neuron loss, and reactive gliosis. Extending these findings is MRI evidence for gliosis in the hypothalamus of obese humans. Collectively, this work identifies a potential link between obesity and hypothalamic injury in humans as well as animal models.”

It’s Only Human to be Bad at Statistics

This BusinessWeek picture made us laugh, but it’s apparently only human to be bad at statistics.

I’ve just finished an excellent book by Nobel-winner Daniel Kahneman called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (reviewed by the Financial Times) in which he covers 40 years of his own research into psychology and our human ability to understand statistics and make “rational” economic judgments.

In fact, Kahneman won the Nobel prize for Economics  for his work, which suggests humans are not the rational agents that most economists assume – we don’t appear to have a correct intuitive grasp of statistics, although we often believe we do.

The book is very accessible and certainly worth a read.