January 15, 2021

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey – Book Notes, Summary, Review

Reading Time: 13 mins

Reading The Productivity Project showed me that being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive. When we are productive we are accomplishing the right things that we intentionally set out to work on.

Each productivity experiment the author undertakes is detailed using his personal experiences to great effect. This allows us, the reader, to better understand how each one could impact our lives if we were to try them.

This book is well suited to those new to the concept of productivity and looking to dip their toes in the water.

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Who Should Read This Book?

I would recommend this book to anyone totally new to productivity. With that said, I would suggest you read Getting Things Done first.

The Productivity Project book contains a lot of core productivity concepts that would be useful for getting started with becoming a more productive person.

It is a practical book that gives you a good way to dip your toes into popular productivity “hacks” to see what they are like.

With that said though, most of the concepts in this book are discussed at length in lots of other productivity or self-help books.

So if you’ve been around the block and have read several books in this area (productivity), there might not be a lot of new things here for you to learn.

Without being overly negative of this book, an excellent feature in the book is the exercises that are included at the end of each chapter. This allows you to follow along with the author and get a feel for each ”productivity lesson”. That way you can understand what methods might work for you.

Also, if you are interested in the story behind the book and how the author Chris Bailey conducted his year of productivity experiments, then there is certainly a lot of detail about that in this book.

How This Book Changed Me

I have to honestly say that there wasn’t too much in this book that was new to me.

As someone who has now read many productivity and self-help books and articles, as well as listening to dozens of podcasts on the subject, there wasn’t a whole lot that I hadn’t heard before.

With that said, if this book did nothing else, it cemented the argument for a lot of “productivity methods” or “productivity ideas” that I had learned about and have been practicing for some time now.

I also did enjoy the author’s story of his year of productivity experiment and found that element of the book quite compelling and enjoyable to read.

My Top 3 Quotes That Resonated With Me

“Productivity isn’t about doing more things – it’s about doing the right things.”

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey – p40

“The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey – p75

“Energy is the fuel you burn throughout the day in order to be productive, and without it, your productivity is toast.”

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey – p231

Book Notes

A New Definition Of Productivity

A Meditation On Productivity

The Monk And The Cocaine-Fueled Stock Trader

The Three Ingredients Of Productivity

Part One – Laying The Groundwork

Productivity With A Purpose

Not All Tasks Are Created Equal

Measuring Productivity

Working Smarter

Your Most Important Tasks

The Rule Of 3

Biological Prime Time

A Day In Your Life

Part Two – Wasting Time

Cozying Up To Ugly Tasks

The Six Triggers Of Procrastination

Part Three – The End Of Time Management


Today, time is no longer money. Productivity is money. Page 98

Two Huge Lessons

For Important Things, Spend Less Time

Extreme Makeover: Taxes Edition

If the task is:

Three More Ways To Regain Control Over Your Brain

  1. Create a procrastination list
    • By creating a list of tasks you can do the next time you procrastinate, you can procrastinate productively.
    • By giving your brain a choice to work on one of two tasks, you’re ensuring that either one you pick will be of high impact.
  2. List the costs
    • Simply list out the costs of putting something off. This will help to convince you to work on the task.
  3. Just get started
    • Set a timer for 5, 10, or 15 minutes and just work to that
    • Consider Emmett’s Law: The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself. (p75)

The Difference Between You And Taylor Swift

Getting In Touch

It’s so easy to commit your future self to things your current self wouldn’t want to do. We call this a ‘planning fallacy’.

Hal Hershfield – p81

The Zen Of Disconnecting

Your Prime Time In Action

What I Do On Maintenance Day

The End Of Time Management

Part Five – Quiet Your Mind


Part Six – The Attention Muscle

Attention Hijackers

The Meditation Chapter

Part Seven – Taking Productivity To The Next Level

For The Love Of Water

Part Eight – The Final Step

Tactics to take away from this book:

  1. disconnect from productivity more often
  2. recall three things you’re grateful for each day
  3. journal about a positive experience you had
  4. break tasks down
  5. ask yourself for advice – by being objective you can work through your problem
  6. reward yourself
  7. Know you can grow
  8. create an accomplishments list
  9. look at pictures of cute baby animals