My notes on The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

The Productivity Project

Recently I finished a great book: The Productivity Project, by Chris Bailey.

This book is a collection of the most valuable lessons Chris learnt during his one year of productivity experiments.


He talks about a LOT of aspects that affect our productivity. He also gives solutions and tips on how we can be more productive.

The best thing about this book, is that Chris tested those experiments himself, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.

In this book, time management isn’t the best way to track your productivity. You should track how productive you are according to the tasks you accomplish during the day.

We all have 24 hours, what differentiate us from the most successful people on Earth, is the importance of the tasks we accomplish during that period.

I already knew some of the principles referred in this book because I apply them in my life. But I also learnt a lot of new tips and insights that I’m going to try in the future.

1. Manage Time, Attention and Energy

This is the subtitle of the book. But it also is one valuable lesson you should apply to increase your productivity.  

Unfortunately, we focus way too much in the time we have, or in the time we don't have. The only thing we want is to work the maximum amount of time we can possibly think. But that’s not the path to follow, if you want to become more productive.

Actually, productivity is a combination of time, attention and energy. And they should be considered as equal.

If you think about it, even if you have 10 hours per day to finish something, but your energy is low, are you really going to be productive? What if you’re doing an important task but you can’t focus on it properly?

You have 15 hours in your day to finish something. So time shouldn't a problem, right? 

But what if it takes you 10 hours to finish a task, when it could be done in 5 hours? 

In theory, you're being productive. Because you finished a task you had to complete. 
But it took you 10 hours instead of 5.

Is this really being productive?

Sometimes, time is not the problem, energy and attention are!

And this leads to one experiment the author tried in The Productivity Project, that I find quite interesting.


Chris worked 90 hours in one week.

In another week, he only worked 20 hours.

The results?

He accomplished just a bit more in his 90 hours week, compared to when he only worked 20 hours.​

The conclusion? Working more hours isn’t always the best option!​

2. Fake Deadline

It’s complicated to satisfy our brain, but if we make an effort to understand it, we can improve our lives a lot more!

When you have a deadline to deliver something, your brain will force you to finish that task before the deadline ends, right?

But what happens if you don’t have a deadline? You procrastinate a lot more!

That’s why Chris suggested something really interesting that I’m going to apply more frequently.

Basically, give yourself a Fake Deadline!

Fake Deadline:

1. You have to finish writing a blog post 

​2. Give yourself a deadline to deliver that task

​3. Delivery Date: 19/2/17 - 14 p.m. 

​4. Accomplish your task before the deadline ends

The results?

You will Procrastinate a lot less and you will also finish your task earlier!

As the Parkinson’s law says: 

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

3. Procrastination Triggers

There are certain tasks that we procrastinate more.

Those can be: paying and dealing with taxes, house cleaning, finishing an assignment, etc. But why exactly do we procrastinate more in those type of tasks?

In The Productivity Project book, Chris enumerates The 7 Procrastination Triggers:

The 6 Procrastination Triggers:

1. Boring

2. Difficult

3. Frustrating

4. Unstructured/Ambiguous

5. Lacking Personal Meaning

6. Lacking Intrinsic Rewards

If you think that a specific task is frustrating, you will probably procrastinate on it.

But Chris also has a solution for this problem, and it makes a lot of sense!

For example, if something is boring for you, try to combine it with something you enjoy doing.

Or if it is difficult, consider breaking that task in small actions to make it easier to accomplish.

The key is to analyse which task your brain procrastinates more, and to be creative finding ways to make it much more enjoyable.

4. Maintenance Days

Cleaning the house, or doing grocery shopping, isn’t something we’re always willing to do.

Chris suggests that during the week, we should write everything that we remember that needs to be done:

For example: buying butter, washing the car, making meals for the week, etc.

We should keep track of all these tasks during the week. And then, you decide in which day you are going to do all of them.

You can also group some tasks to save you time. For example, if you need to go to the supermarket and to the gas station, group all of those tasks.

To make everything more enjoyable, listen to an audiobook, podcast or music!

I complete all these type of tasks on Saturday morning, and it is actually something I learnt to enjoy doing.

Maintenance Days:

1. During the week, write down all the tasks that need to be done

​2. Chose one day of the week to complete them all

Tip: Learn to enjoy your maintenance days, by combining your tasks with listening to an audiobook or to your favourite music. 

5. Find the time when you're more energised

We are all different. And so we have different periods throughout the day when we feel more energised and productive. 

You should find the time where your energy is higher. And use those periods to do more creative or difficult tasks.

Find your Biological Prime Time aka when you feel more energised

1. In a piece of paper, track your energy levels (0-10) every hour. 

​For example:
2 p.m - 4
3 p.m - 5
4 p.m - 7
5 p.m - 9 

2. ​In the end of the day, create a graph/chart with the information you collected

3. Analyse the peaks of your energy during the day

Tip: ​Repeat this process for more than 1 day, to get more precisely results. 

Tip 2: ​Use the hours when you feel more productive, to finish tasks that require more focus and energy. 

If you have a more flexible schedule, fill your “biological prime time” with tasks that are more important and require more focus.

6. More about The Productivity Project 

Here are more three considerations that I really enjoyed in this book!​

-According to research, the average employee check their email once every 15 minutes.

-Gloria Mark, attention researcher, says it takes us 25 minutes to return to our initial task, once we get distracted!

-David Allen, recommends you to create a “Waiting List”, with tasks that fill your mind but there isn’t nothing you can do about them.

For example: Waiting for an Amazon package, money someone’s going to pay you next week, etc.

The Productivity Project

1. Manage Time, Attention and Energy

2. ​Create a Fake Deadline

3. Combine boring tasks with things you enjoy doing

4. ​Have a Maintenance Day

5. Find the periods of time when you feel more energised

Believe me, those are only a few of the great insights and ideas you can find in this book! So I highly recommend you to read it! Buy it here!

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