The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author:

Chris Bailey (born 1989) is a Canadian writer and productivity consultant, and the author of The Productivity Project (2016) and Hyperfocus (2018).

Publication Year: 2016


If you’re someone who’s looking for ways to be productive, then ‘The Productivity Project’ is for you. This book is a summary of the author’s research and experiments on productivity over the course of a year or the compilation of techniques to boost productivity that actually worked. The chapters were short and the author also provided a takeaway and an estimated time in front of each chapter which seems fitting to the project! While explaining his techniques, the author also cited various interesting researches to show why these techniques are effective.

You don’t feel like you’re slogging through the book. Plus, there were several challenges that are simple and not intimidating, scattered throughout the book that’ll help you be more productive in the long run. The project is more about digging deeper in your mind and learning about yourself and your motivations. But as they say that things are bound to go wrong, the author also faced challenges during the experiments. But he managed to overcome them and learned to not be hard on himself when things didn’t go as planned. Here are some important highlights-

Productivity in brief:

🔹Productivity has nothing to do with how much you do and everything to do with how much you accomplish

🔹The best way to measure productivity is to ask yourself a simple question at the end of every day: Did I get done what I intended to? When you accomplish what you intend to and you’re realistic and deliberate about the productivity goals you set, you’re productive

🔹A small number of tasks lead to the majority of what you accomplish therefore productivity isn’t about doing more things, it’s about doing the right things

🔹The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself

🔹Time is no longer the money, productivity is money

🔹It’s pretty much impossible to act deliberately 100% of the time. This is what makes productivity more of an art than science

🔹Busyness is no different than laziness when it doesn’t lead you to accomplish anything

🔹When you spend too much time on your tasks, it’s not a sign that you have too much to do; rather, it’s a sign that you’re not spending your energy and attention wisely

🔹Small incremental changes and habits might not the significant by themselves but they add up in the long term to produce big results

🔹Energy is the fuel you burn throughout the day in order to be productive, that’s why eating healthy food is important

🔹The amount of willpower you have is steadily depleted as you expend it over the day

🔹It doesn’t matter what time you wake up, it’s what you do after you wake up and whether you got enough sleep in the first place

Ways to be more productive:

🔹Find a deep, meaningful reason for being productive that’ll sustain your motivation in the long run after the initial excitement wears off

🔹At the start of each day and week, pick 3 tasks and put all your focus in accomplishing them

🔹Identify your Biological Prime Time- the time of the day when you have the most energy, and therefore the greatest potential to be productive

🔹Work on the most meaningful and important tasks during BPT, when you have the most energy- not when you have the most time

🔹Morning is the best time to do creative work as the brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for creative thinking, is most active immediately after you wake up

🔹Embrace procrastination but find ways to reduce it

🔹The tasks that will make you the most productive are also the most aversive, so learn to fight the urge to put them off

🔹If you start identifying with your future self without seeing it as a stranger, you’ll be less likely to put things off for your future self to deal with

🔹Disconnect from the internet while working on demanding and unappealing tasks

🔹Consider the internet as a nicety, not a necessity

🔹Managing your time should take a backseat to how you manage your energy and attention

🔹Set deadlines, create urgency and shrink how long you’ll work on a task

🔹Optimal hours to work every week are roughly 35-40 hours, after which your productivity begins to plummet

🔹Gather all your maintenance tasks (those that support your personal life and work but provide you abysmal value) together and tackle them all at once

🔹Reward yourself after you accomplish something

🔹Learn to say no to the tasks that don’t add any value to your life

🔹Work on your tasks slowly with more awareness and mindfulness instead of faster and harder

🔹Delegate and outsource the low-impact tasks in your work and home life

🔹Externalize your tasks and write them down to free up mental space and get organized which will reduce stress and help you focus

🔹Do a weekly review of your tasks and accomplishments

🔹Let your mind wander without distraction as it’s beneficial for brainstorming, problem-solving and becoming more creative

🔹‘Sleep on a problem’- studying before bed will help you perform better on the tests the next day

🔹Keep your distractions more than 20 seconds away from you for eg. Keep your phone in another room while you work

🔹Work on a single task to develop your ‘attention muscle’ as multitasking overloads your brain and your productivity suffers

🔹Try ‘Pomodoro Technique’- Work on only one task for 25 minutes and take a 5-minute break

🔹Practice mindfulness and meditation

🔹Two rules to eat well- Eat more unprocessed food and stop eating after you’re full

🔹Drink fewer alcoholic and sugary drinks, drink more water and drink caffeine only when you need the energy boost, not habitually. Have better caffeine drinks i.e green tea or matcha

🔹Drink water first thing in the morning as it fires up your metabolism making it 24% faster

🔹Start exercising as it provides you energy and ability to focus in return for your time

🔹There’s no perfect wake-up time, you need to figure out the best wake-up time for you

🔹The happy you are, the more productive you’ll be, so be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up

Ways to be productive in the long term:

🔹Take breaks more often

🔹Recall 3 things you’re grateful for every day or journal about a positive experience you had at the end of each day

🔹Create sub goals, spend time on planning your project, create a to-do list to make the work structured and engaging

🔹Ask yourself for advice when you run into a difficult situation

🔹Be someone with a growth mind-set i.e someone who believes that through hard work and persistence, you can accomplish anything

🔹Create a list of your accomplishments

🔹Look at pictures of cute baby animals! (Studies show that it can boost cognitive and motor performance. And, it’s fun!)

All in all, it’s an absolute must-read book if you want to accomplish more. In the author’s words, this book will provide valuable insights in exchange for your precious time, so I highly recommend it!

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I'm an introvert, agnostic-atheist, insatiable reader, fitness enthusiast, daydreamer, music-lover, cat-adorer, eternal optimist with a touch of cynicism, curious soul, annoying preacher, OCD for cleanliness with a teeny affinity for messiness!

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