"Productivity is what makes the difference between someone who runs a company and the employees who work for her." -Chris Bailey
The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey is one of the best productivity books I've read thus far. He provides more than just tactics. He suggests a new perspective on happiness through productivity.
There are 26 chapters so I listed out the 7 lessons I've learned.
>> Focus on Time, Energy, and Attention
Bailey says, "Productivity is about how much you accomplish, not the amount of time you spend on the task." At the same time, he says "productivity isn't about simply doing MORE things, it's about doing the RIGHT things."
Through my job search, i've been able to implement this strategy. I was initially sending what felt like hundreds of applications every week while getting few responses. It was just not efficient! My friend, Karen, suggested reaching out to my LinkedIn network. By contacting recruiters that worked at the companies I wanted to interview for, I started landing a few more interviews. This reinforced the lesson of doing the RIGHT things instead of simply spending more time on the task itself.
The most productive people not only manage their time well, they also manage their attention and energy. This section inspired me to incorporate meditation in my daily routine to stay focused during quarantine. Even though it's an additional task, it's something that will help me maintain clarity throughout the day.
>> Work Smarter Not Harder
Have you read articles suggesting that the most successful people wake up at 4am? Or heard of the saying, "The early bird gets the worm"? Well, I am so glad that Bailey eliminated this ideology!
Bailey discovered that:
"There is absolutely no difference in socioeconomic standing between someone who is an early rise and someone who is a night owl-We are all wired differently, and one routine is not inherently better than another. It’s what you do with your waking hours, that makes the difference in how productive you are."
Instead, Bailey suggests understanding your biological prime time. This is the time when you are the most focused and have the most energy. This way, you can maximize that time to do your most engaging and energy-draining work.
I also tried to become a morning person multiple times because I thought that was what successful people did. It just wasn't sustainable for me. I found that I need 9 hours of sleep and my natural prime time is between 10am-2pm. After learning this about myself, I now plan my interviews, work, or anything that requires energy and the most attention during that time.
>>The Rule Of 3
Before you invest in better managing your time, attention, and energy, it's important you continue laying the groundwork by deciding what to focus on every day.
When you set daily goals and the list is crazy long you can easily get overwhelmed, intimidated, and in return, immediately unmotivated. Instead of making ambitious goals, make them simpler to accomplish.
It's hard not to feel productive when you're busy all day long. However, busyness does not translate into productivity if it doesn't lead you to accomplish anything.
Limiting your list to 3 things (even though you can definitely manage more) is large enough to fit the main things you want to accomplish, but small enough to make you think hard about what's important.
>> Set Yourself Up For Success
Throughout the week, Bailey collects low maintenance tasks and does them all at once. The good thing about this is that these tedious tasks require less energy and attention. You can listen to a podcast, audiobook, or jump on a call while doing these tedious maintenance tasks to maximize productivity.
Organize Maintenance Tasks
Bailey says, "Maintenance tasks are essential if you want to live a healthy, happy, socially engaged, and productive life." I mean, how will you choose healthier options if you never plan out your meals or workouts? It's all about preparation!
I use the Reminders app to keep track of errands or home stuff that needs to get done every week. If you're anything like me, making lists is a stress reliever.
Weekly Reviews ('Hot Spots')
Additionally, to live a fulfilled life, you should try to balance your career, relationships, health, spirituality, or whatever else you find important to you- Bailey calls them "Hot Spots". He suggests reviewing them weekly to see how much you are focusing on each section.
I thoroughly enjoy filling out 'Today's Reflection' on the Happiness Planner. I constantly reflect on my Hot Spots and question if I accomplished what I wanted to get done that day.
>> Understand Your Why
Through Bailey's research, the biggest lesson he learned is to deeply care about why you want to become more productive. He emphasizes how everyone likes the idea of taking on more and making positive changes to their life, but in practice, becoming more productive is one of the toughest things you can do.
Bailey provides some realness during this section. He says, "investing countless hours becoming more productive or taking on new habits and routines, is a waste if you don't actually care about the changes you're trying to make. And you won't have the motivation to sustain these changes in the long term."
Be realistic about your productivity by making sure you are setting a time limit and truly being introspective about your why.
>> Be Your Own Accountability Partner
When you put something off or waste time, you're almost always being unfair to your future self. If you keep putting off that workout or starting a new habit, you will never get to it.
One of my favorite suggestions Bailey offers in this section is writing yourself a letter. I have used futureme.org before and it is completely wild to receive a message from yourself months or years later! If you implement anything from this article it would be this. It helped me reflect and see how differently I used to think. On the other hand, I also saw the progress I made.
>> Everyone Procrastinates
The last lesson I learned from Bailey is that procrastination is human nature. Some people might look like they never procrastinate, but in reality, they just procrastinate differently or in different amounts. However, just because this is true, it doesn't mean you should completely give up on improving yourself.
This is my favorite part of the book:
It’s a good thing to never feel fully satisfied-as long as you find ways to continually cultivate your happiness along the way. The reason humans have survived and evolved for millions of years is that we, as a species, have never truly been content with where we are. We have always wanted to build bigger inventions, buildings, ideas, and movements.
It is healthy to not be satisfied with your life and strive for more, but be patient with yourself. I hope this last section gives you a sense of relief and peace. During this quarantine, take the time to cultivate new habits or skills, increase your productivity, and create a life you're proud of.