Best-Selling Author (Chris Bailey) of The Productivity Project Shares How to Accomplish More Each Day

Show Notes

On today’s show Chris Bailey the best-selling author of The Productivity Project joins us to share about how you can actually accomplish more by managing your time, attention and energy.   

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

  1. Chris welcome onto the show, how are you sir!?
  2. Throughout your career, you’ve been able to achieve massive success, but I would like to start by asking you about starting from the bottom and where you believe your career first began?
    1. When I was a teenager I developed the attraction to productivity. It has always been the backdrop of my life.
    2. My parents were both psychologists and that had a large impact on my life
    3. In college I thought “Where is the intersect between business and Psychology?”
      1. The answer is productivity.
    4. I like to look at the way we are wired and then go backwards to see how we could be better.
    5. Growing up my parents were both Psychologists. My mom liked helping people and my father spent most of his time working. We would be considered an average family.
    6. It all began when I was a kid and I would always ask “How can I do this better? Faster? Smarter?”
  3. Chris, what first inspired you to write The Productivity Project?
    1. It was a curiosity following me throughout my life
    2. In university I received a few job offers and I thought that it would be the perfect time to experiment with productivity. I thought “I could commit to working this job for 30-40 years or I could experiment the same things on my own. I could interview these Incredible people and read their books to learn more”
    3. In Canada we have a more manageable debt that is deferrable for up to a year. I had $12,000 saved up and decided to decline the jobs and live off of the $12,000 while pursuing my goals.
  4. When you should not be productive:
    1. Going to the store 
      1. Doing something you enjoy
    2. Making Love
      1. Take hours if possible
    3. Eating
      1. Slow down and chew
    4. This is why we are in need of a new definition of productivity. Efficiency isn’t productivity.
    5. The definition I use is “We are perfectly productive when we accomplish what we intend to do”
    6. Our intentions are the benchmark of productivity
  5. Is being productive when you start with the end of mind?
    1. Absolutely, when we chose our day or plan our day that is when we are most happy.
    2. Behind the most successful people there is a level of delebritness 
    3. I asked my audience what % of your day are you being intentional. The average number was only 38% of people were being intentional with their day.
    4. So much of productivity is about, not doing the work, but what we should be focusing on
  6. Chris in your book The Productivity Project, you have chosen to break your book up into 8 parts, and I would like to use today’s interview to really dive into Parts One, Two and Three. Chris, let’s start with Part One: Laying the Groundwork. Let’s first get into Where to Start?
    1. Breaking the book down into eight parts is just what happened.
    2. In part one of my book I talk about how people don’t really think about being more productive. We always hear the word “Productivity” but there is no real definition. I define it as “Achieving what we intent on doing”
    3. Most people think productivity is “Doing More” which almost always results in soley becoming more busy.
    4. We often forget about our accomplishing our goals and we like to just move on. It is critical to celebrate the things  you have achieved and to realize what your goals are.
  7. Chris, next you write that Not All Tasks Are Created Equal. What do you mean by this?
  8. Chris, I would love for you to share about the Three Daily Tasks?
    1. At the start of the day you should fast forward to the end and ask “At the end of today, what three things do I want to have accomplished?”
      1. The number 3 is a number that as humans we think in.
      2. You won’t have a laundry list of things that you will be able to accomplish.
      3. NOTABLE QUOTABLE: Not all tasks are created equal – Chris Bailey
      4. When you are going through your day and get distracted you can easily remember the three things that you set out to do and redirect.
      5. You also are able to choose which tasks are more important than others.
      6. This helps with setting intentions and accomplishing goals.
      7. Interruptions can cost you hours
    2. Microsoft did a study to see how many times you get distracted from what you intent to get done.
    3. When on a computer we tend to focus on something for only 40 seconds before getting distracted
    4. I flew out to see the real results of this test and found that the real number is 35 seconds before we get interrupted by something
    5. Even though we are distracted a lot, it is not our fault.
    6. Our mind is created to release dopamine when we see something novel
    7. Every time we visit twitter, Facebook and check our email this phenomenon goes on throughout the day.
    8. One of my favorite strategies is I set my phone to Grayscale mode which turns your phone black and white which makes your phone less novel and attractive compared to the world around you
    9. I subscribe to the physical newspaper and read it every day.
    10. I leave my phone on airplane mode from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
    11. It is not the fact that we are distracted that is the problem it is the fact that we always have an impulse to check our smartphones
  9. Which book of yours would you recommend?
    1. Hyperfocus – Chris Bailey
    2. The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy – Chris Bailey 
  10. What Book that you didn’t write would you recommend?
    1.  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    2. NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “The state of our attention determines the state of our lives” – Chris Bailey
  11. How old are you?
    1. I am 29
  12. In your generation there are few people who “Get It”. How did you get to this point?
    1. Whenever I create something my intention is to make it:
      1. Helpful – If it is not helpful then why create it?
      2. Fun – I try to be different and conversational.
    2. If you deliver consistent value to your customers more will come.
  13. What do the first 4 hours of your day look like?
    1. It is never the same
    2. I travel 60% – 70% of the time
    3. I Invest in taking care of myself with yoga, meditation and reading
      1. I like to look inside and process ideas to propel my day forward

ACTION ITEM: What areas in your life can you be more intentional with your time? Are you using a to-do list and time-blocking every area of your life?

NOTABLE QUOTABLE: “In this day and age, if you don’t plan your day, somebody else will” – Nir Eyal

Chris Bailey Thrivetime Show Slides

Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

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All right, thrive nation. On today’s show, Chris Bailey, the bestselling author of the productivity project, joins us to share about how you can actually accomplish more by managing your time, your attention, and your energy and why. Our ability to focus on one thing for a given amount of time determines the level of success that we shall team.

Some shows don’t need a celebrity in a writer to introduce the show. Could they showdown to may eight kids Koch created by two different women, 13 moke time million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen welcome

to the thrive time show.  Thrive nation. On today’s show, we are interviewing the best selling author of the book titled The Project Tiffany Project,

accomplishing more by managing your time, attention, and energy. The productivity project is published by Crown Publishing Group, which is a division of Penguin Random House. Chris Bailey, welcome onto the show. How are you sir?

Good day to you, sir. I just had a one and a half hour massage. I’ve never had one that long. I am good. I’m relaxed. I’m good to go.

Sorry. Massage. Did you go to the mall and you have the guy who got aggressive or what, what, what was the method?

No, there weren’t like 30 people walking by watching this massage was like, I’ve got the best misuse in the world. She always goes like 15 minutes over 20 minutes. If you’re in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, go to Elizabeth House, that will probably be relevant for one person listening. But for that one person, your massage life will never be the same. I’ve already helped one person with this pilot. I think we could just pack it in now, man. Well, I think we’re good tribe nation. It’s been a great show. Three, two, one. Thank you for having me.

So, hey, we’re back now. Throughout your career, you’ve been able to achieve massive success by a lot of people’s standards. I mean, you’re doing what you’re doing well, and so I’d like to start off at the bottom, the less intimidating part. Um, where do you believe your, your career first began?

Oh Man. Probably when I was a teenager late. Like this idea of productivity. So some people have normal interests like cooking and maybe sports. I don’t, I don’t even know what people are into, but productivity, this idea of, you know, we only have so much time every day, so why not try to accomplish more in that limited amount of time? This idea has always been the backdrop against which I’ve lived my life. And from that time when I was a teenager, you know, both my parents are psychologists, which is why I’m kind of messed up in the head a little bit, but you know, I was pouring over there their collection of psychology textbooks and books that they, that they read just for fun when I a teenager. And that led me to university when I got a business degree and I had a bunch of, you know, good internships during that point.

But I, I thought like where, where is the intersection between psychology and business? In other words, how can we work smarter? Where, where is that beautiful crossroads? I think it’s productivity because the best productivity advice allows us to work with greater intention. It allows us to work with the way that we’re wired to think and act instead of just like I, I’m not one of these quote unquote experts that has this five, this 10 step solution that that happens to be trademarked, uh, for just getting more done every day. I like to look at the, the way that we’re wired start at that place and then work backwards to how we should be acting differently. But I think that that was sort of a, the humble beginnings, if you want to call it that, of of the work that I do today. Were you raised in a neighborhood?

Like you got a middle class neighborhood? Yeah. I’ll ask you to walk us through your raised under a bridge. No, no. It was like a like, like my parents, like my mom, they were both psychologists, but my mom worked at, in the community helping folks who, you know, who just needed a helping hand, you know, she didn’t really seek the money and my dad had more of a clinical consulting practice is like, it was like, I guess middle class, upper middle class, whatever that means. And in small town Canada. Uh, but it was like not, it wasn’t opulent or anything of that nature, but I think it was a bit, it was, you know, pretty average, maybe slightly above average. Did you find yourself, like when you’re doing chores as a kid or a task and a job, your first maybe job, were you thinking in terms of productivity?

Like how can I do oh yeah, faster. Yeah, of course. You know who, who, and I think who wouldn’t like that? And maybe that’s, maybe that’s where it all began where we’re dissecting the kind of origins here. But um, yeah, I think that’s where it began. You know, vacations, I would always bring a big stack of books with me. I’d bring like 10 or 15 books related to business and productivity when you know, everybody else in my family and the friends of the family were just playing in the sand and, and swimming in the ocean. I was like there with glasses on the sidelines. So it’s always been like that nerdy curiosity of pushing on those limits. See yesterday in a mental preparation for this interview. My wife says to me, she says, my wife’s unaware of this interview by the way, but she was preparing me.

I could tell. She says, people keep, we live, we live on 17 acres and people keep parking off of the driveway. You don’t. We like, it’s kind of a circle drive on the grass. My wife says, we need to make this stop. Could you go haul some cinder blocks in line the perimeter until we get our driveway? We’re having it professionally landscaped and all that and oh sure. Well that right there was an order that was a call to action to move about a hundred and whatever cinder blocks and I immediately thought, so I turned to my son. I said, Aubrey, I bet we can get, we can get this done in 20 minutes. Yeah, he says 20 minutes,

all those, it’s not possible as soon as possible. If we move each one at this many seconds, we can do it. And he was like, are you kidding me dad? And that’s how I processed. I’m very excited to talk about your new book here, that productivity project. What inspired you to write this book? Did you hit your head on the toilet seat? Were you listening to a Brian Adams, Justin Bieber, Alannis Morissette Canadian Mountie remix album or what happened?

Michael Bublé is also on that album, you know that classic Canadian Crooner Michael Bublé. Sorry, that’s Josh Groban man. What’s wrong with you? You gotta, you gotta know your [inaudible] does the, uh, the covers of everything, right? So it’s like just the way you look tonight, but cooler. Yeah, yeah, I bet. Sold tree. Canadian voice. No, it was like, it was just like this curiosity following me at most junctures of my life, honestly. And uh, there was a point many, many years back there, uh, at the time of us recording this, this pod when I graduated from university and I received a few full time job offers because I worked hard up to that point. I had intro internships at proper companies, but I thought if there’s ever a time to actually get my hands dirty and deeply experiment with and explore this, this weird, frankly curiosity of productivity, it’s then, and so that was the point at which, you know, I had these full, you know, full time job offers.

I had three of them when I graduated. They were well paying there. There’s kind of like, it’s kind of like that moment when you’re watching the cartoon and the characters looking down the hallway and it stretches off into infinity though. That was like what I felt at that point of my life. Uh, and so I realized like, okay, I could either do this for the next 30 or 40 years or I could decline the jobs, say no to them, devote eight year of my life to, to actually experimenting with this topic, running, uh, you know, dozens of productivity experiments on myself. I can interview the greats, the people that I had looked up to for years, the authors, the researchers, the people who live and breathe this stuff. Like I do a, I could look at the books that are out there, the academic journal articles that are out there, and I could get to the bottom of what it takes to, to perform better in a workplace type of environment.

But at home too, whether you’re moving cinderblocks or reading your parents psychology books are just doing household chores, you know, I think the best of these ideas transcend whatever we happen to be doing. So I said no to those jobs. And Canada, luckily, you know, when we graduate from university, we have debt, but it’s, it’s a more manageable level. I think I had about 20 grand of student loans at the time, but you can defer those in Canada up to a year. So I said, okay, screw it. I’m deferring them, I’m going to owe a lot of money when I’m done this project, but I have 12 grand in the bank that I’d saved up. I’m going to somehow live off of that amount of money for a year. I declined the jobs. So I went in deep man that that was when it all started. You probably got your, and I also hit my head on the toilet, I forgot to mention that part.

You probably picked up your frugality from the Montreal Expos that somehow the Montreal expos became like the farm team for every American Major League baseball team. Very thrifty team there. I feel like all the research you did is, is a, is like researching Canada and Canada culture. And I really, I appreciate that. Well I, I’m from Minnesota, so it’s Kinda like your neighbors, you know what I mean? So yeah. So one interview I might re revert back into saying, Oh, don’t, you know, and Bjorn and yeah, there we go. See, thanks for having me on a pod. But Hey, real quick, do you like Molson Canadian Molson? Do you like, Hey, I’m more of a whiskey in a wine kind of guy. I’m a crown email kind of kind of fella do. Do you like Drake? I actually recorded, you know, after the productivity project, I wrote another book called hyperfocus and I recorded that audio book in the same studio that trake records his albums and in Toronto. But I can’t say that I’m a fan of his music. I can’t say that. I wish I could. Come on. Listen, this isn’t your, once you tap into auto tuned, you’re going to be the new Drake. Well the book is autotuned.

It’s got a lot of complaints. People said I’m calling it in, but I think it sounds better. That is so great. Okay, so in your book you broke your book, the Productivity Project, uh, into eight parts. Uh, did you do that because you like the word Osho or what? Why did you do it? I like a, I like that, you know, the symmetry is the, is the definition of beauty. So no, I didn’t choose to do that. It just kind of the way it happened, but I like the number. Eight’s a nice number you can cut it into, then he can cut it into again, then again. And then you have the number one. So number two, I love the eight. So now, okay, now, so your book, you dive into part, you get part of part one, part two, part three. Let’s get into part one, let the groundwork.

What, what’s, what’s this all about? Well, we don’t really think about why we want to become more productive. And this is something that, you know, frankly, it took me a bit longer than it should have to realize, but we really need a strong reason for wanting to become more productive in the first place. A lot of it is like we hear the word productivity in first of all, we don’t have a good definition. So something comes to, to mind of, you know, one person that’s totally different from the mind of another person in my eyes. You know, we’re, we’re productive when we accomplish what we intend to do. That’s the definition that I use. But very few of us approach a podcast episode like this, a book like the one that I wrote with, with, uh, with an intention behind why we want to consume that information.

We’re like, okay, productivity signed me up man. But, but if we go into it with that attitude, we just become busier. We, we do more. You know, it’s possible to do more without accomplishing more, right. You know, productivity. It’s not about how busy we are, but it’s about how much we accomplished by the time the day is done. And so, you know, the, and I think we have to also be kind to ourselves in the process because the very idea that we want to become more productive implies on some level or another that we’re not entirely satisfied with where we’re at already. And I think that that’s a big problem because we forget about our accomplishments. We forget about the fruits of our productivity. We’re always rushing onto the next tactic. We’re always going onto the next thing. Instead of saying, wait a sec, I did a great job here. I should pat myself on the back. I should celebrate a bit more. And, uh, and so I think that’s just so critical in writing this book about productivity, um, is like, oh, ask people, why the hell are you here? Why did you pick up this book? Ask and question yourself with that point. Uh, because I think it’s one of the most important things that we can ask herself with about this topic.

Now we have, uh, one of our show sponsors, uh, Paul Hood on today’s show. Paul, meet Chris Bailey Hey Chris.

Hey Buddy. What do you, what do you say? What are you selling?

All right. What do you aspire to? CPA and a business planner. We help our clients actually make money and not just a go to work. Make it the mind. That’s awesome. Mag the mighty. Now Paul has a clients all over the country. He has a question for you in just a minute about productivity. And I’ve got a question for you about this real quick. Um, are you a married guy? You’re a married guy. Me Or Paul? Are you, are you married, Chris Bailey?

I, I’m not. I, I’m engaged but not married yet.

Okay. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna ask you, and this is your, these are, these are thoughts, these are thoughts, things, things to think about. Um, productivity tips. Cause there’s, I think there’s some times in life when you shouldn’t be productive. Young to t three that I think are, uh, you know, times of my life I’d like to have you break it down. Area Number One, going to the store. After I finished working everyday I like to go to research where I buy meat from the meat man. Yeah. And I like to have an excuse to come back again. And I do it often. I might go to research twice or three times every day just because I enjoy it or go into Atwood’s. It’s a store that sells boots and farm and ranching stops. So Guitar Center, I like to be unproductive there. Second area is when making love.

Yeah, I like to make sure that I’m not productive. No, no real efficiency at all. That’s what will make it make it take hours if possible. And then the third is, my wife wants me to be less productive when eating because when I eat I’m like sea food, eat food, done. Boom. It’s like fuel for me. And she wants to go. No, you got to chew it and enjoy the flavor. And I just find, I find myself hearing myself chewing my food and my own ear. I don’t like it. So I’m just like, get it down here. So talk to me about areas where you shouldn’t try to be productive or just he just help, help us, help me, help them. I think this is

why were in need of a new, a conception of what productivity means. Because when you see it as efficiency, you know that the definition doesn’t work in every way. Just because you, you write more lines of code, you write more words at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean you’re more productive because you know, you could write 272 words. They could be garbage or they could be the Gettysburg address. Uh, and so I think when we do knowledge work for a living or when we’re living at home, the, the, the amount we produce and how efficient we are, those definitions of productivity I argue in the book are a bit broken. Um, you know, the, that, the definition that I use is that we’re perfectly productive when we accomplished what we set out to do, when we accomplish our intentions. And so if you intend to make love for two hours, like staying guys with that cancer and then, uh, and then you do, I would say you’re perfectly productive if you intend to really savor the experience at the grocery store, if you intend to save her anything.

And then you do, whether it’s like relaxing on the beach, whether it’s reading a good book, whether it’s listening to a podcast while working out, and then you accomplish that thing. I would argue that you’re productive even if it means binge watching one season of the good place on Netflix, one of the best shows out there on network television. The end you do, I would argue you’re perfectly productive. But it starts with, and it ends with that intention that our intentions are the benchmark that we should be using for our productivity. Oh, also say when I pet my chickens or I feed my neighbor’s got a euphemism.

No, I really, oh, that’s so good. That’s so, so when I, ah, that might chicken, I pet my chicken, if you know what I mean. And I feed the neighbors donkey, if you know what I mean. I do that and the Minnesota like maybe I should be moving to Minnesota. Sounds like the life for me when I do that. Those are things where I don’t want to be super productive. I just want to enjoy the time, you know, I want to savor it. I want to see exactly now. Okay. Now, now that we’ve got all the innuendos out of the way, Paul, uh, what questions do you have about petting your chicken or anything else?

Chris Clay has me on here to kind of keep things back on track business things. They’re just, he gets down in the dirt, he goes down in the dirt so, well Chris, here’s hood, CPA’s dot com we spend a lot of time talking to people about starting with the end in mind and you just start showing up to work. You start with the end in mind and you create a plan and you execute your plan real quick. That’s right. That’s what I say when I’m making love in, to start with the end in mind. Like, do you fall? Alright. So it sounds like, so I, you know, I love being on these interviews and talking because to me what to say, what I hear is I’m being productive is starting with the end in mind. So you know, what the result you want and versus activity is just showing up and doing things. Is that kind of, have you drawn parallels to productivity versus just activity?

Oh, exactly. Yeah. And you know, I think we can break down day into sort of two buckets. There are the moments that we have intention behind what we’re doing and then there are the moments that were in autopilot mode. And if you look at where the meaning comes from in our day, if you look at what, where the accomplishment comes from in our day, sometimes if we don’t choose and we don’t plan, we, some of us are lucky enough to fall into some modicum of success and accomplishment. But I, I think that’s the exception rather than the rule or the norm. Uh, I think what you see behind, you know, at least the most successful people that I’ve surveyed and met is there’s, there’s a level of deliberateness behind the things that they do. And you know, I think we have a lot of room to gain in that regard frankly, that there was one survey that I put out to the readers of my site where asked them how, what percent of the day would you say that there is intention behind what you’re doing in the moment?

And I received I think 20, 30,000 responses and the average amongst everybody that was reading my side, uh, was 38%. And so about a third to a half of the time, half of the day there’s intention behind what we’re doing. We have a lot of room to gain there because, you know, not all tasks in our work are created equal. So, you know, we fall into working on what’s latest, what’s loudest. We check email, we go to social media, we look at the notifications that are flying in from every which way, instead of noticing that we should be mentoring the new employee. That just joined our team that we should be, that we’re at home and maybe we shouldn’t be spending time with our family because that is the most meaningful thing that we could be doing in the moment. And so I think that, you know, so much of productivity ironically is about not doing the work and instead stepping back so you can figure out what she, what you should be doing in the first place.

And I think that’s true with money. I think that’s true with time. I think that’s true with what we focus on. I think that’s true with, with how we live our days and how we live our lives. You know, if you’re out there, you have a new employee, you need to be spending your time mentoring that employee. You can’t be spending your whole day pet in your chicken. That’s right. That’s all I want because I want to ask this. Your mother’s the three daily tasks you write in your book about the three daily tasks. Yeah. What are the three daily tasks? Yeah, so this is a little strategy that I use. I call it the rule of three, where essentially at the start of the day, you fast forward to the end of the day in your head and you ask yourself, by the time that this day is done, what three main things will I want to have accomplished?

And it fits. You know, I follow up with this tactic in the second book, Hyper Focus, uh, because it this number three, it’s, it’s a number of items that fits comfortably in our mind at once. And we actually think in threes and, and you can look no further than to our culture to see how this is the case. We have sayings like good things come in threes and celebrities die in threes. And the third, the charm and the good, the bad, the ugly and blood, sweat and tears. We, we grow up around stories like the three little bears, the three blind mice, the three little pigs, the three musketeers. If we’re debating on the meaning behind, uh, you know, petting the chicken, we can play rock, paper, scissors to settle that, that, that dispute. And so we think in threes. And so the idea behind this is that you won’t remember a laundry list of things that you have to do as you work because you know we only have so much capacity to hold things in our mind in one moment.

But when you choose the three things that you’ll want to accomplish by days, and it’s simple enough that you actually recall these items as you work throughout the day. So when your mind wanders and then you think, oh crap, I’m not focusing right now. You can remember and recall one of the intentions that you set at the start of the day when you get distracted, you can recall these three daily intentions to this rule works so well and it fits so well with the way that we think. I started off just setting three daily intentions and it’s, it’s a nice helpful thing because as we’re talking about not all tasks are created equal. And so you get to actually decide, okay, this is the most important thing, not this, this is more important than this. That is not important, but this is, and you get to really separate those things.

It works so well. I do the same every single week and I, I do the same every year too because, you know, I don’t always remember by yearly intentions, but I review them once a week. Um, and so when I set those weekly intentions, they feed into the longer term goals and I can make sure the daily ones feed into the weekly ones. And so I actually make progress on the goals that I set. And so it’s a nice little strategy for, for uh, just doing things better and doing the right things, um, instead of just becoming busier.

No, this is one thing that I have unnoticed. And Paul, you’ve heard me talk about this on many past shows. Um, uh, Paul’s one of our show sponsors has heard a lot of the shows. Uh, Andrew, you hear this a lot. Um, but we interview some very, very successful people. You don’t like the founder of a Ritz Carlton or the top public relations guy in the world are the founders of Warby Parker. Some big folks you know and what you hear over and over as they’ll go back to this same thing, this same theme, psychology today reports that the average person, not our listeners, I’m sure Chris, but other people I interrupted an average of 91 times a day on your smartphone and I’ll put a link to it on the show notes, but 91 times per day, 91 times per day. Also the average listener out there, not our listeners, it’s the friend of our listeners, they have a Facebook account, a Twitter account or youtube account, email account of of some kind, an Instagram account and potentially so they have at least five accounts.

They feel the need to check those five throughout the day cause they want to get all the notifications are off there. So all the studies are showing that you’re interrupted 91 times and then when you get home you that’s 2.3 hours a day by the way. Then when you come home, you just spend the whole night, just go in through those accounts. Sure you’re caught up getting your inbox down to zero. And what I keep hearing from the world’s top most successful people is that the computer, the smart smartphone is actually making people dumb and destroying their productivity. And when instead of the, the tool being used to be more productive, it’s turning people into a tool. Can you talk about your research? Maybe you disagree. Talk to me about the computer and how it can be maybe a really a time suck.

Yeah, it’s a fascinating area of study and I recently delved into it a bit more deeply there. There, there was one study conducted by uh, Gloria Mark and Mary Sherwin ski and Shamsi Hick, Paula Microsoft who, you know, Microsoft is, is largely responsible for a lot of the distractions that we faced in the first place. You know, that, that outlook notification popping into the corner of our screen and all that stuff. But, but they examined people. So they set a camera up and people’s office with w w with their permission, I should say. And they looked at how long folks worked on one thing before they switched to something else. And so what I love about this study is it doesn’t just account for the phone interruptions. It doesn’t just account for the, the computer and it accounts for everything. The computer, the phone, the Times at which our mind wanders away from what we really want to be doing during the day.

And what they found was that on average when we’re working in front of a computer, when our phone is nearby, we focus on one thing for just 40 seconds before we switched to doing something else. I didn’t believe this figure when I encountered it. So I flew out to meet the researchers at Microsoft and, and I feel actually flew out three times to see their methodology and how they work and how they crunched the data. And it turns out that we actually focused on one thing for 35 seconds when we have things like Skype and slack and email open as we’re working. And so this is the state that our attention is in today. Uh, so, but, but the thing that I think we need to internalize with regard to distraction is sure, we’re distracted a lot and sure we lose a lot of time.

We lose a lot of productivity because of these, these interruptions, both internal and external to us. Frankly, sometimes we interrupt ourselves, sometimes other people interrupt us, but I think the important thing to remember here is that even though we’re distracted a lot, this distraction isn’t our fault. It’s the way our brain is wired. In fact, there is a bias in our mind called the novelty bias. Where are our mind rewards us with a hit of dopamine for each new novel thing that we should direct our attention at. And so we wake up, our alarm wakes us up, which happens to be our smartphone than we go over to Twitter and then we get a hit of dopamine because we saw something novel. We’d go to Instagram, we get a hit of dopamine. We would go to email because three emails came in overnight from the overseas team.

We get a hit, we talk to the partner next to us, so we get a hit of dope and we constantly travel around in the, in this loop of Apps and of distraction, not only during the morning, but this goes on and on and on and on and on and on throughout the day as well. Um, but I, I think the fact that our mind is drawn to anything that’s new and novel, it’s a sign that we should make distractions less novel than they are already. So some of my favorite strategies for doing this, my phone is set to gray scale mode. And so this is a mode that’s buried in the accessibility panel of most cell phones where if you go to the settings they search for is for Grey scale, g r a y scale. This turns your phone screen black and white. And so it’s instantly less novel, there’s less color, it’s less stimulating visually, at least in the real world around you.

I subscribed to the physical newspaper that arrives at my doorstep every single morning. I get a copy of the New York Times and I get a copy of the global mail. And I love that daily ritual because the newspaper that’s physical refreshes once a day. It doesn’t refresh every three to five minutes, like online news. And so you get to slow down a bit. It’s a bit less novel. Um, you know, just leaving your phone on airplane mode for 12 hours every day seems like a lot, but I do it between at 8:00 PM and 8:00 AM and so it’s a way to ease out of one day and into the next one without really being too a jacked up and, and driven up. And so I think there are ways that we can make our work and our life life less novel, not, not in a bad way, you know, in a way that we’re not constantly overstimulated.

It’s not distraction. That’s the problem. I think this is something that a lot of us miss. It’s not the fact that we’re distracted. That’s the problem. That’s the symptom. The true problem is that we’re drawn to anything that’s new and novel. And so we can’t resist what’s novel in the moment, in the moment. Your mind will always prefer to pay attention to Facebook over that email that you need to be writing to your boss’s boss’s boss. But because of that fact, it’s just a sign that you need to overcome this impulse with a bit of forethought. Also, I would, I would add that, um, you know, you did the gray scale. You got the daily pay for, those are intentional moves you did. I would also say I see people going out to dinner all the time, bringing their smart phone the entire time. Yeah.

Bring in your smartphone to dinner is going to wreck that dinner. You’re not going to have a real conversation. I mean, bringing the smart phone to the movie theater, there’s no rule out to this. You have to have the smart, I hear people all the time saying, well, I just want to be reachable. And then they’re not reachable by the person who’s sitting right across from them on their smart phone. So your, your book is going to profoundly impact somebody. And I’ve got three final questions for you. Yes, sir. To respect your time and this lightning round, this Canadian, the lightening roll. Here we go. Here we go. So this is first question number one. Here. You have read a lot of books, you’ve written books. What’s the one book that you’ve written?

If you say all the listeners out there, they’ve got to read that book. What’s the one book you’ve written? Any of this, this is at the end and read one. This is it. And then what’s a book that you would recommend for all the listeners that you didn’t? Right.

Oh Man. So I’ve written two books on productivity. Yep. I think if you want the story, if, if you want a a compilation of tactics, the productivity project is the one to buy. Got It. And uh, if you find that distraction is your biggest issue, I hyperfocus is, is the one that I recommend, the one that I didn’t write. Oh man, there’s so many of them. Getting things done is, my favorite book about productivity is it’s the one that got me into productivity in the first place. It’s a system, you know, it’s one of these productivity systems. And don’t, don’t take every part of it, but take the parts that work for you. Because the central tenant of it is that our brain is for having ideas, not for holding onto them. And so the more ideas, the more tasks and projects we externalize, the clearer that we’re able to think. And so I like to riff on David Allen’s ideas in the work that I do. But yeah.

Do you those or do you have a quote that you say a lot when speaking? Kind of like that quote that you say and people go, oh, that’s good. I mean, because you have so many knowledge bombs per capita, you know, but Ronald Reagan was famous President Reagan for saying trust, but verify, you know? Yeah. Bomb has faith, hope and change. You know, Trump is, you’re fired. Do you have one little tagline that people, if you’re going to put it on a tee shirt, that’s the one that’s the Chris Bailey quote that America needs to hear?

Oh man, that’s a good question. I, I think, uh, you know, one would be the state of our attention determines the state of our lives. And I love that idea. It kind of encapsulates, encapsulates the second book because if we’re distracted in each moment, those moments don’t exist in isolation. They exist within the context of a greater life. And they accumulate day by day, week by week, year by year to build up to create a life that feels, uh, distracted and overwhelming. But the same is true. If we focus on what’s meaningful, what’s important, the people around us, the, the important work around us, then our lives become more productive and meaningful as a result. So I think if one idea of makes it into, into somebody’s heart, uh, with regard to the way that, that work, the way that they live, it would be that one.

No, I have one final question then. Paul has one final, one up question here. So he always looks to one up me there. So this is my, my typical caution there. Have Paul, he’s just, he’s, he’s got the CPA thing going for him. We did thousands of clients. He’s like, yeah, in your face, how do you, you’re a very intentional guy. Very intentional view. You’re planning out your life. Are you perfect? No. But you’re a guy who, you seem to know what you want to do every day. How do you organize the first four hours of your day and what time are you waking up?

It’s honestly tough because it’s never the same. I, I’m traveling about 60 70% of the time I do talks around the world and so they’re never the same. If I’m traveling, then usually my schedule is dictated by somebody else. There, there’s a, a tech check I have to go to. There is somewhere that I have to travel to. And so I really play those days by ear with a 30 40% of the time that I’m at home. I usually invest in taking care of myself. I, I, you know, this morning for example, I started the day off with Yoga. Um, and then after that point I do whatever I need to to take care of myself that day. Often it means, uh, doing my meditation first thing in the morning. Sometimes it means delving deeply into it, into a good book first thing in the morning because I love beginning the day.

On a note like that where it is that just, you know, looking at what’s incoming, all the email, all of the, all the instant messages. I’ll, all the social media, I look inside instead of outside and, and, uh, you know, process ideas and connect some information and some dots because that I find more than checking email more than checking social media propels my day forward. You know, John and my office, he came up with this thing called the Broga, you know, Broga. Have you tried Broga? I have not. I, I is that like yoga, but it still makes it masculine. But one is you don’t wear yoga pants. Women can’t wear the yoga pants and you going gonna wear like military combat gear. And then instead of it being like hot, like in a hot room, somebody grilling, you know, they’re truck Norris and Sylvester Stallone movies playing in the background. And then, you know, instead of saying like, do the Vinyasa damn dog, there’s a man yelling at you. Like, get down again. [inaudible] it’s broke out. I would not go to that man. I’m sorry to this fellow who came up with this idea that it’s then we just haven’t got anybody to sign up yet, but we know it’s in the Beta phase. Okay. Paul Paul, one question. Do you have there

So how old are you Chris Bailey?

I am 20. I always forget, I believe I’m 29.

Two 29. Yeah, no, I get jealous of young guys like you because you know, I went through the traditional, I’m 51 and go through college and you’d learned debits and credits and business and, and beer, beer and all that kind of stuff. And so how on earth are you? Do you feel like you’re special? I mean, in your generation there’s very few people you know as a percentage that, that actually get this enlighted uh, as far as this keep going, keep going. Yeah. I mean, how did you get to that point, man? I know we talked a little bit about your, your parents, a lot of Kale. Yeah. Did he as a friend, because he’s from Canada, yoga freeze, does he Drake take a lot of cold baths? I mean, how did you decide, hey, I want to be more productive and I want to figure out how to teach other people be more productive?

You know what, whenever I create something, it, this whole racket that I write about now, like I’m lucky that the books are out in so many languages and of soul net x number of copies when or whatever it’s at now. But honestly, everything that I create online, my intention is always to make it two things. First of all, make it helpful because if you’re not going to help something by, uh, creating something that put out into the world, why are you doing it in the first place? And second of all, make it fun. You know, because a lot of these, uh, quote unquote productivity experts, uh, you know, w who are usually people who just call themselves an expert, who know less than a lot of academics about the topics I try to be deferential to, to, to the people who know the real stuff, who do the real studies.

But you know it to make it fun because make it conversational where this is something that everybody on the planet struggles with, including myself. And so I’m just lucky. I feel like a grateful, uh, mother father every day that I get to do this for a living. And uh, and so I just try to make it as helpful and as fun as possible. And Luckily I think regardless of what you do, this is my philosophy. If that’s your approach to creating something, people are going to catch on if you deliver consistent value to them. And so I think that’s always been my intention and it’s simple. But you know, if you try to help people, I think people will support your work. In turn, you know, we’ve covered the state of our attention determines the state of our lives. We’ve covered yoga, we’ve covered the experimental Beta product Broga we’ve discovered, we took, we’ve discussed all these workshops heading your chicken, the, the euphemism we’ve really, we’ve really covered a lot of ground here, both north and south of the border.

So I think really, you know, you should probably hang up on me. So we end on a high note. Yeah. The, the surface area of this conversation was pretty great, but I think there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of color in that surface area too. So I hope folks find it helpful. One sneaky little question, just a sneaky one. Would you be opposed to America annex in Canada if, if Justin beaver would be American and no longer a Canadian? Like, or would you want to keep me? If you offer was, we’ll take beaver will say he’s ours. You know what I mean? So now you’re, you’re not going to wear that. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not on you. It’s on us. You get, and we get to a small part of Canada. Would that be okay with you or what do you move?

Do you want man, I’m like, uh, like the parents relate to the boundary waters, just kind of that deal. And we want just the fresh water before the water wars start in 30 or 40 or not. We like to, I think, um, I think, uh, well maybe like a trade. Like we, we can give you bublé so is yours, but I think we want like a, an a mirror. What if you gave us Barack Obama? Oh, so here’s the deal. If you want to work that trade. So I get I get Bieber and you get Obama. Obama. Yeah. Well I just like a straight up Trey. Trey, I’d make the trade right now. Um, I would do that. I think that’d be a good move. Alright. Okay, sounds good. I think it’s a deal on behalf of Canada. I would like to thank you for Barack Obama and uh, enjoy your, your Bieber fever. Well, I tell you what, you’re going to love the hope and change up there and we’re going to be believers down here and be like, oh, there’s a great fevers sweeping the United States and we like to end every show with a boom and run here. Boom. Stands for big, overwhelming optimistic momentum. So Andrew will kind of role real quick here. Got It. Three,

two, one. Boom. That’s how it happens. Are you ready? My friend. I’m ready. Okay, Paul, you ready to bring both? Andrew? You’re ready. Ah, so ready. You go towards the border.


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