The Productivity Project Helping Others Find Answers

Sprott grad Chris Bailey's debut book, The Productivity Project, hit shelves this January. (Justin Tang Photo)

Over the phone on a winter morning, 26-year-old Chris Bailey rhymes off the New Year’s resolutions he’s trying to tackle in just one month — learning to juggle, complaining less, spending less time on social media, saving more money, losing weight and eating zero processed foods.

“It’s really zapping my willpower, which is why we’re talking in the morning,” he says. “Your willpower steadily depletes as the day goes on.”

Bailey’s goal is to become as productive as humanly possible, a task he’s dedicated himself to since graduating from Carleton’s Sprott School of Business in 2013 and the subject of his debut book, The Productivity Project, released in January.

The book highlights 25 of Bailey’s most successful tips for making the most of your limited time, based on his own experiments, research and interviews. It is being sold in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom and translated for Thailand, Taiwan and Korea.

“It’s so difficult to make sense of the productivity advice out there,” says Bailey, who defines productivity as the confluence of a person’s time, energy and attention.

“For every minute you spend reading about productivity, you have to make that time back and then some.”

That’s why Bailey decided to find his own answers.

Instead of taking one of two full-time job offers he received at graduation, he spent the next year experimenting with different tactics for optimizing his productivity.

He tried everything from waking up at 5:30 a.m. to eating only take-out food and watching 70 hours of TED talks in seven days. He documented the results on his blog, “A Year of Productivity.”

The website now attracts about 200,000 readers from around the world each month and has since morphed into “A Life of Productivity.”

The daily messages Bailey receives from readers looking to make better use of their time encouraged him to write his book.

“People are overwhelmed and, I think, stressed, and it’s often so difficult to figure out why,” Bailey says. “We have so much work and not enough time – or we feel like there’s not enough time.

“This book is full of tactics that I have found have actually made a difference in the way that I work.’’

Bailey hopes The Productivity Project will help people regain some of the time and energy they need to do the things they love.

But it won’t be the end of his work on the subject, he says.

In addition to the media attention and speaking invites he’s received — including one at Sprott on Jan. 19 — he plans to continue experimenting with productivity.

“When I was putting this thing together, I kept stumbling upon more research and more information and more experiments that I wanted to conduct,” Bailey says.

He feels fortunate that so many people have connected with his ideas, giving him the chance to explore his passion.

“Since I declined those job offers to start my project, I’ve only discovered more things that I’m curious about,” he says. “That’s just motivated me more.”

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