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We usually check the time using smartwatches and smartphones, which have clocks tallying the time with signals from atomic clocks, some of which are installed on GPS satellites.

The signals from atomic clocks are now becoming increasingly accurate, allowing us to measure gravity waves in ways previously unimaginable.


Scientists are hoping to redefine the second – here's why

The Start Of Calculating Time

The oscillator, invented by Christiaan Huygens and used in most mechanical clocks, measures time with resonance, a pendulum of a fixed length moving back and forth.

This frequency mapping of oscillating movement was improvised in the 18th century by John Harrison.

Quartz crystal, a tiny musical tuning fork of high frequency and stability, is used in most modern clocks. The atomic clock, which all our normal clocks check to discipline themselves, was first built by Louis Essen. It worked by calculating the flipping frequency of electrons in caesium atoms. The frequency is so sharp that one second is exactly 9,192,631,770 caesium electron spin flips.

GPS technology, something found on every smartphone, has the accuracy of atomic clocks built-in.

Ultra-fast lasers, linked to atomic clocks, creates a new kind of optical atomic clock that is being researched by scientists. It is about a hundred times more precise than previous atomic spin measurements.

Such hyper-accurate time using laser beams provides new ways for scientists to detect space-time distortion, volcanic eruptions, and distant gravitational waves.

A work-life balance

The concept of a work-life balance suggests that work and life are two separate entities that need to be kept equal. Historically, labour was a necessary struggle and was seen as a means for sustenance and survival. It is no wonder that work is seen in a negative light.

But what about creative work or intellectual work? When we research a topic out of curiosity, is this unpaid work?

The problem with work-life balance: it's actually a rollercoaster - Ness Labs

  • Work and life are not strictly separated. If you are happy at home, you bring a huge amount of energy to the office. If you're happy at work, you come home with energy. It is really a circle, not a balance.
  • Your work is not just a job. You may find genuine joy in your work.
  • Your work may just be a job to pay the bills.
  • You may not want to achieve a work-life balance.
  • Work-life balance assumes a limited definition of work.
  • Work-life balance is a myth.

Instead of feeling ashamed because you cannot maintain a work-life balance, realise that it is an illusion that can't be achieved.

The alternative is to embrace the unexpected, accept that some periods of your life will be filled with work, and other times it may be leisurely. Sometimes work will be dull, and sometimes it will feel energising. You may have a job just to pay the bills, and another time you may find the perfect job.

GTD (Getting Things Done)

GTD is a productivity method for organizing your to-dos, priorities, and schedule in a way that makes them all manageable.

Its 5 principles are:

  • Capture
  • Clarify
  • Organize
  • Reflect
  • Engage

Productivity 101: A Primer to the Getting Things Done (GTD) Philosophy

GTD is an organizational system. It doesn't put rules around how you actually do your work. Instead, it focuses on how you capture the work you need to do, organize it, and choose what needs your attention
Capture everything. Your to-dos, your ideas, your recurring tasks, everything. Put it in a pen-and-paper notebook, a to-do app, a planner, whatever you prefer to use to get organized.
Clarify the things you have to do. Don't just write down something vague, but plan actual steps that are clear and sheds light on the details, the time and the exact action required.
Organize those actionable items by category and priority. Assign due dates where you can, and set reminders so you follow up on them. Make sure all these are done keeping in mind the priorities

Reflect on your to-do list and review it often. If done right, this is a very helpful step to trim the list or do the action right away.

Get to work on your list. Choose your next action and get to it. Your system is, at this point, set up to make figuring that out easy. You know what to work on, and when. 

Find a GTD-friendly system that works for you, like a paper notepad,a planner, or a certain app like Evernote, or the default App in your Smartphone like Apple's Reminders or Google Keep.

The Noise Playlist

The specific stimuli of a coffee shop: a combination of noise, casual conversations and visual variety provide us with a low-level distraction that is conducive to creativity.

The low-to-moderate levels of ‘ambient noise’ boost our abstract thinking, creativity, decision making and senses, something known as stochastic resonance.

Why you’re more creative in coffee shops

Other people around us in a coffee shop who are working on their laptops, make the place a co-working environment, which acts as a motivator for us to be productive, just as going to the gym makes us exercise as we see people around us do the same.

As we sit in a coffee shop and open our laptops (often in our favourite chair) the visual stimulation around us, the decoration, walls, windows, makes us delve into convergent creative thinking, the one that requires us to think out of the box.

The people that come and go, the sunlight that changes, and the food that is being eaten around creates micro-stimuli that helps us work differently and efficiently than at home where we may feel stuck and bored.

Meeting at a bar or a coffee shop creates an air of informality that is missing from the board room. This helps people gather, collaborate, brainstorm and do stuff that isn’t possible in a Zoom meeting.

The Open-Office culture, which took speed more than a decade ago, helped people collaborate by providing the same setting as a cafe would, though in many cases it turned into added levels of distraction.

Recent research on remote workers reports that about 80 percent want to continue working from home, and not in co-working spaces or cafes.

The lure of the coffee shop is not going away even after this temporary jolt, as people who are working from home can benefit from the change of scenery and the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee that is hard to find at home.

The passage of time is subjective

Time is the product of physics, but how we perceive the passage of time is the product of the mind.

Your perception of time is subjective and malleable - it changes in response to input and context. It can be distorted by drugs, disease, sleep deprivation, or other altered states of consciousness.

The Neurology of Flow States

When our minds are not stimulated, it can feel like time is moving very slowly.

When we are fully engaged, especially when we are busy with activities that keep us in a state of flow, our sense of time seems to speed up or even disappear. This "flow state" is where one is wholly absorbed in a mental or physical activity.

Improvised art forms, such as music, acting, or comedy is an example of a flow state. Improvisation is a highly complex form of creative behaviour. The ability to improvise requires cognitive flexibility, divergent thinking and discipline-specific skills.

During musical improvisation, there is an increase in the area of the brain involved in intentional self-expression and the pursuit of goal-oriented behaviours and a decrease in the brain areas involved in conscious self-monitoring, focused attention, and evaluation of planned actions.

We don't need to be able to improvise to achieve flow states. We can turn off the constant time-keeping moments when in artistic rapture or contemplation. Activities such as meditation, hypnosis, and daydreaming can also induce altered states of consciousness.

During improvisation, a performer's moment-to-moment decisions and actions may feel as if they happen outside of time and without intention. But, if performers become overly self-aware or self-conscious for too long, they can lose the flow state, and their performance will suffer.

Increasing Your To-Do-List’s Productivity
  1. Divide it into the following categories: Today, This Week, Later This Week, Long Term.
  2. Once you complete a task, delete it. If you need to follow it up, make a new entry for it.
  3. In the long-term section, keep notes about future big projects you want to execute.
  4. Keep it synced through all your devices so you can edit it anytime.

The Deeply Unsexy To-Do List Hack That Made 2018 My Most Productive Year Ever

Addressing Myths About Productivity
  • During a given day, if you accomplish what you intended to do, you had a productive day.
  • Certain ‘productive’ work like answering email or replying to messages is actually a distraction, and can be better managed by blocking specific time slots for execution.
  • You are not on track if you are not doing what is the main objective of the day.
  • Work does not mean ‘paid labor’ but encompasses community service, side projects and even hobbies.

How To Get the Most Out of Your Calendar - Nir & Far

  • Reflect on the time during the day you had done what was the goal, and on what occasions were you distracted. This can be done using time-tracking apps or a simple journal.
  • Refine your calendar by timeboxing your main objectives to map your daily and weekly productivity, along with the real-time improvisations or delays that have occurred.

It’s impossible to be completely indistractable, but if we are able to meet our objectives and protect our most precious resource, which is time, then we have ample play in the day to live the life we want.

Calendar Management Mistakes
  • Mixing tasks in the same time frame or attempting multitasking may provide an illusion that more work is being done in less time, but is ineffective and takes longer to finish tasks.
  • Calling one-on-one meetings and team meetings randomly or as per convenience will not do any good for the productivity of the employees, as they will be tied up attending the meetings and making the notes.

This scheduling strategy can save you hours per week

For a manager handling a set of team members, staggering of specific To-Dos and stacking them together makes it a focused task, and is done with efficiency.

Example: All one-on-one meetings can be stacked in a single day, while team meetings can be done on another day.

The main objective is to save time and leave open days for deep work, where there are no meetings to attend and the tasks at hand can be focused on without official distractions.

As information moves slowly, one-on-one meetings help identify problems that can be resolved the next day during a team meeting. Senior management can take it up later in the week if required.

Don't waste valuable energy

We can't waste valuable energy on mindless activities while putting off what matters most for later.

In business, wasting energy means working on low-value tasks, and thinking busywork is the same as productivity.

How Low-Value Work Is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Being overwhelmed may be the new normal, but taking on too many responsibilities may be watering down our overall impact.

Bring back your focus to what matters most. Work on the projects that are the real game-changers. Delegate the discretionary work and eliminate unnecessary meetings.

Running a thriving business means understanding how to organize your work by importance and knowing when to delegate.

  • Find your sweet spot. When you consider taking on a project, see if it aligns with your purpose and the organization's broader goals. Ask yourself if you're the right person with the right skillset.
  • Automate. As your company grows, use automation tools for low-level work. It also allows your employees to make more meaningful contributions.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to say no to low-level tasks. Set your own limits about what you'll take on.

Slot your meaningful work into the times when you feel most productive. Realizing how your focus, creativity, and interest change at different hours in a day can help you better engage in your key projects.

The email experiment works as follows:

  • No logging in to any primary email accounts for the entire month.
  • Setting up automatic forwarding to an assistant to ensure nothing urgent falls through the cracks.
  • Setting up an auto-reply explaining the reason for the email sabbatical, the period, and ways to connect during this time.

What I learned by taking a month-long break from email

According to a 2018 survey, the average creative professional spends 5.6 hours per day checking email.

Once you make up your mind to make the mail app less accessible, it is much easier to give up email. Leave the phone outside the bedroom to help build resilience to the email habit.

Most emails are of little value. We often remember the extraordinary, like the once-in-a-lifetime invitation, but not the ordinary - that possibly only three percent of emails are worth reading.

We often impose an unhealthy expectation on ourselves to respond to every email immediately.
Except for work assignments, this is unnecessary. Many people will applaud you for taking a break and find your decision inspiring.

We expect information to come to us, rather than proactively seeking it out

Our news email means we don't have to search it out. Our event invites mean we don't have to look into what's happening. While it is convenient, we are conditioned to become lazier.

There are so many things funneling back to email.

Without email, it can be difficult to check a doctor's appointment, RSVP to party invites, or access your bill history. Email can be a nightmare if you're trying to create boundaries.

A periodic sabbatical

Spending a month away from email can help you question your default distractions.
Without email, you have to find other stuff to do while riding on the subway or waiting in line. Then you may realize that self-importance and the sense of urgency are not important.




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