Within the first chapter of The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey spills the beans on the three ingredients to productivity: Time, attention and energy. He says the balance of these leads you to accomplishing your goals. And if you flip over to the back cover, you’ll find Bailey’s top four recommendations for becoming more productive. But the value of Bailey’s book is not in knowing these factors, but following along on Bailey’s journey and absorbing the lesson that productivity has more important benefits than getting more done every day.
But don’t worry, Bailey does spend some time giving you tips on how to get more productive. Each chapter closes with a challenge that aims to both drive home the theme of the chapter and begin actively working on your productivity. His truthful anecdotes endear you to him and his process, while making you feel that the goal of becoming more productive is something you believe in wholeheartedly. I say that because I grabbed the book not because I wanted to read it, but because I wanted to increase my knowledge of the types of books available in the 600s. By the end, I’ve found myself implementing and valuing many of the lessons Bailey’s imparts.
Here are some fun productivity related facts I learned from The Productivity Project:
- Productivity doesn’t require you to get up every morning at 5:30 a.m. And I am SO glad to hear it. You see, every person is different, and the time of day when we have our “peak energy” is also different. Just because some people have peak energy at 5:30 a.m. doesn’t mean I will (I know this cause I never do). Instead Bailey tells you to identify when you are the most energetic and strive to accomplish your most important tasks then.
- We often feel the need to procrastinate right before an important task. Glad I’m not the only one! Bailey says this is because the more important the task, the more likely it will be that the task is frustrating, difficult, lacking in rewards, unstructured and more. It is no wonder, then, that you will try to come up with ways to avoid beginning such a task.
- Cute baby animals are the key to what ails you. No, seriously:
“One study analyzed the cognitive and motor performance of participants who looked at cute baby animals… They found that cute baby animals had a positive effect on how participants managed their attention, and that ‘viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.'”
But the most essential lesson you can take away from this book is that we need to be kinder to ourselves. Whether that’s eating healthier or journaling one positive thing that happened to you every day, becoming more productive isn’t worth anything if your happiness and quality of life suffers. Indeed, self-directed kindness is so important that it is one of the last things Bailey leaves you with:
“The kinder you are to yourself as you become more productive, the more productive you will become.”
To me, it is this underlying theme that sets Bailey’s perspective apart from other works on productivity. If you’ve ever wondered what productivity should look like, this is the place to start.