Checking Facebook at work might be a bad idea for a variety of reasons, but not all non-work online destinations should count as goofing off--especially if you're watching a TED talk given by a well-spoken leader with an insightful idea. If you think a dose of self-improvement could help you get ahead at work (and life), check out these excellent presentations.

Tech pundit David Pogue says you probably don't know a handful of easy tech tricks that can help you save time when using your computer or phone. For instance, there's a super-fast way to scroll down a page when surfing the web--just hit the space bar. Or, when using your cell phone don't navigate to the punctuation keyboard to insert a period and end a sentence. Just tap the space bar twice to do it and automatically start your next sentence with a capital letter.

Inc. columnist and 37signals co-founder Jason Fried believes offices are interruption factories. When people really need to get work done they carve out alone time in a special spot, on a plane, or at odd times, like before anyone gets to the office or after they all go home. Creative types, in particular--designers, programmers, writers, engineers, and the like--need long uninterrupted periods of time to get things done. In the last three minutes of this talk he gives suggestions for how to cut down on office interruptions.

Are you working long hours in a job you hate to buy things you don't need to impress people you don't like? Only you can control what your life looks like and if you don't design it yourself, someone else will. "The small things matter. Being more balanced doesn't mean dramatic upheaval in your life," says book author Nigel Marsh, who talks about how he accidentally gave his young son the best day of his life just by giving him a bit of time and attention. "With the smallest investment in the right places you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life," he says.

"Sitting has become the smoking of our generation," says Silicon Valley author and speaker Nilofer Merchant. She conducts 20 to 30 miles worth of walking meetings a week and gives loads of stats about how inactivity will kill you. "You'll be surprised at how fresh air drives fresh thinking," she says.

Angela Lee Duckworth left a demanding management consulting job to teach seventh grade math to New York City public school students. The biggest surprise? Her best students weren't necessarily the smartest. In graduate school she then researched success, studying West Point military academy cadets, National Spelling Bee competitors, effective inner city teachers, and salespeople making lots of money. She found that those who achieved the most shared one common characteristic: grit, which she defines as the passion and perseverance to reach very long-term goals. "We need to measure whether we've been successful and we have to be willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned," she says.