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Book Report: ‘The Productivity Project’ by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey turned down lucrative job offers to pursue a lifelong dream—to spend a year performing a deep dive experiment into the pursuit of productivity, a subject he had been enamored with since he was a teenager. After obtaining his business degree, he created a blog to chronicle a year-long series of productivity experiments he conducted on himself, where he also continued his research and interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts, from Charles Duhigg to David Allen. Among the experiments that he tackled: Bailey went several weeks with getting by on little to no sleep; he cut out caffeine and sugar; he lived in total isolation for 10 days; he used his smartphone for just an hour a day for three months; he gained ten pounds of muscle mass; he stretched his work week to 90 hours; a late riser, he got up at 5:30 every morning for three months—all the while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work.

The Productivity Project—and the lessons Chris learned—are the result of that year-long journey. Among the counterintuitive insights Chris Bailey will teach you:

  • slowing down to work more deliberately;
  • shrinking or eliminating the unimportant;
  • the rule of three;
  • striving for imperfection;
  • scheduling less time for important tasks;
  • the 20 second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions;
  • and the concept of productive procrastination.

In an eye-opening and thoroughly engaging read, Bailey offers a treasure trove of insights and over 25 best practices that will help you accomplish more.


Reading a book that challenges some, ahem, bad habits can hit a little too close to home. No one wants to face those hard truths.  Not with ‘The Productivity Project’ By Chris Bailey!  It is a gentle read but will encourage you in the moment to make some changes that are long overdue.

Right from the beginning, Bailey, set’s out a time table for an estimated reading time at the beginning of each chapter. What book have you ever read that practices what it preaches right in the outset?  As the reader you have a regimented amount of time to read and even try out some of Bailey’s gentle ‘Challenges’ towards change.  No pressure, bien sur.

‘The Productivity Project’ is not only a wonderful work book to bring subtle nuances into your daily routine but will also create a foundation that you can build further upon as you move through the stages of change.

‘Structuring downtime and weekends. It might sound counterintuitive (and not very fun) to structure your time away from work, but research says that doing so makes you more focused, creative, active, motivated, happy, involved in what you’re doing, and a lot more likely to achieve ‘flow’, that magical state where time seems to pass so quickly it’s as if it doesn’t exist at  all.  I don’t believe in strictly structuring work or free time (where’s the fun in that?), but some structure is helpful.  For example, during my project I discovered that I always had more energy when I sat down and created a rough schedule of how I was going to spend my time over the weekend, even if that included scheduling time for putting my feet up and doing nothing at all.’

For years, I have been building a schedule around my vacation and weekends. To some people in my life – I’ve been told that I am ‘nuts’.  But for me, I feel more accountable to myself to use the time I have worked so hard for is filled with a mix of relaxation, long overdue projects and time with family and friends.  [As I write this, I’m making a list for next week when I have vacation time coming my way. ]

‘My Maintenance Day ritual is incredibly simple, and incredibly powerful: throughout the week, I simply collect all of my low-return maintenance tasks on a list – everything from going grocery shopping to cutting my nails – and instead of doing them throughout the week, I do them all at once.’

I have been melding a ‘Maintenance Day ritual’ into my weekly schedule in the last few months. I usually attack emails, laundry, food prep for my work week, a workout plan, review goals for my week ahead, clean my house and do a grocery shop on my ‘Maintenance Day’s’.  it sounds like a lot but I feel fantastic when I get to all of my goals.  During my work week, my arms are free, I can have fun, I can get my work done and have a life without loose strings dangling that deplete my energy and make me feel bad about myself.

‘The Productivity Project’ By Chris Bailey is a must read book for 2016. It provides a wonderful framework to slowly build into your lifestyle while also bringing some much needed optimism into your daily rituals.