How to think about reported life hacks?

Interesting juxtaposition as two interesting pieces of spam happened to appear in my inbox on the same day:

1. Subject line “Why the power stance will be your go-to move in 2019”:

The power stance has been highlighted as one way to show your dominance at work and move through the ranks. While moving up in your career comes down to so much more, there may be a way to make your power stance practical while also boosting your motivation and energy at the office.

**’s range of standing desks is the perfect way to bring your power stance to your office while also helping you stay organized, motivated and energized during the typical 9-5. . . . not only are you able to move from sitting to standing (or power stand) with the push of a button, but you are able to completely customize your desk for optimal organization and efficiency. For example, you can customize your desk to include the keyboard platform and dual monitor arms to keep the top of your desk clean and organized to help keep your creativity flowing. . . . the perfect way to help you show your power stance off in the office without ever having to leave your desk.

A standing desk could be cool, but color me skeptical on the power stance. Last time I saw a review of the evidence on that claim, there didn’t seem to be much there.

2. Subject line “Why you’re more productive in a coffee shop…”:

Why “one step at a time” is scientifically proven to help you get more done. Say hello to microproductivity . . .

Readers’ Choice 2018 ⭐ Why you get more done when you relocate to a coffee shop. Plot twist: it’s not the caffeine. . . .

Feel like you’re constantly working but never accomplishing anything? Use this sage advice to be more strategic.

I clicked on the link for why you get more done when you relocate to a coffee shop, and it all seemed plausible to me. I’ve long noticed that I can get lots more work done on a train ride than in the equivalent number of hours at my desk. The webpage on “the coffee shop effect” has various links, including an article in Psychology Today on “The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals” and a university press release from 2006 reporting on an FMRI study (uh oh) containing several experiments, each on N=14 people (!) such as a statistically significant interaction (p = 0.048!!) and this beauty: “A post hoc analysis showed a significant difference . . . in substantia nigra (one sample t test, p = 0.05, one tailed) . . . but not in the amygdala . . .” So, no, this doesn’t look like high-quality science.

On the other hand, I often am more productive on the train, and I could well believe that I could be more productive in the coffee shop. So what’s the role of the scientific research here? I have no doubt that research on productivity in coffee shops could have value. But does the existing work have any value at all? I have no idea.