Chris Bailey has lived in isolation for 10 days, dedicated 35 hours in one week to meditation, and even forced himself to wake up at 5:30 in the morning – all to learn more about what it means to be productive.
“It might seem like a weird thing to be obsessed with, but I’ve been crazy about the idea of becoming more productive for a decade,” says Bailey, who graduated from Carleton last year with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. “I decided to follow my passion for a year and devote a year of my life to becoming as productive as humanly possible.”
He launched the project and website “A Year of Productivity” in May 2013, where he documented his experiments and everything he learned about improving productivity.
“I didn’t really have a clear picture of what it means to be productive in the beginning, but it revealed itself over the course of the project,” he says.
Throughout the year, Bailey says he learned the three main factors that contribute to productivity – time, energy and attention.
He says when all of these factors come together, the result is productivity.
“That was an interesting revelation towards the end, because it’s an idea that seems so obvious,” Bailey says.
He adds that another obvious concept about productivity surprised him the most over the year – which was the positive effects of sleep, exercise and eating well.
People might cut their amount of sleep, claim they don’t have time for exercise, or not eat well to try and stay productive, says Bailey.
But he says they should be doing the opposite to accomplish more throughout the day.
“Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is sleep in an extra couple of hours,” Bailey says. “Sleep, exercise and eating well might seem like a cop-out when you recommend those to somebody, but they’re the most obvious solutions to the problem of not getting enough done.”
Throughout the year, Bailey also says he learned quite a bit about himself. As part of his experiments, he measured his energy levels over the course of the day.
He also figured out the time of day when he feels most creative, and learned that the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call didn’t necessarily make him more productive during the day.
Since every person is different, Bailey says his experiments also taught him overall lessons that can be applied to a more general population.
He plans to teach these lessons and help others become more productive now that his year-long project is finished.
But he also plans to continue his research. On May 1, he launched “A Life of Productivity” – a website that will be an extension of his year-long project, where he will continue to explore and build on everything he has learned so far.
He also hopes to write a book and help others become more productive through coaching and public speaking.
“I learned a lot over the course of the year, and since it’s been my passion for a decade, it isn’t something I’m going to stop experimenting with and writing about,” Bailey says.