Ever had a long, tedious work day only to realise you didn’t accomplish much at the end of it? It’s a frustrating situation, but luckily, we have books like The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey to help us become smarter workers.
For a year, Bailey delved into productivity — conducting a wide range of experiments including meditating for 35 hours a week, watching 70 hours of TED talks one week and drinking only water for a month. As a result, he learnt what productivity hacks worked and what didn’t, and eventually shared his findings in this book. Of the many useful tips mentioned, we’ve picked three to share with you today!
1.Identify your “prime time”
Everyone has a ‘Biological Prime Time’. This means that there is a period of time when you are naturally able to bring the most energy and focus to your tasks.
Identify when this period is, and dedicate your most important tasks to this period. To determine your Biological Prime Time, the book suggests the following challenge:
For the duration of a week, at every hour of each day, note down how much energy you have on a scale of 1 to 10. Avoid caffeine and sleep without the aid of an alarm clock to get the result closest to your body clock.
2. For important things, spend less time
When you consistently work long hours, that’s usually not a sign that you have too much to do; it’s a sign that you’re not spending your energy and attention wisely. For instance, Bailey experimented with working ninety-hour weeks and twenty-hour weeks, and found out that he only accomplished a bit more in the longer week (did we mention this is the perfect book to recommend to your boss?).
One of the tips he has is to set artificial deadlines, as it makes tasks more structured, less boring and leaves less time for procrastination. So here’s the next challenge from the book:
Tomorrow, limit how much time you’ll spend on an important task, and stick to that limit!
3. Wandering works wonders
Ever noticed that when you have that “eureka” moment, it’s usually in the shower instead of while you’re on your phone? This is because letting your mind wander without distractions is beneficial for brainstorming, problem-solving and becoming more creative.
According to the book, the mind has two modes, the “wandering” mode, with no specific focus, and the “central executive” mode, with a set focus. You cannot be in two modes at once, but it is crucial to set aside time for both. Here’s the next challenge:
Sit somewhere you won’t be distracted or interrupted, with just a pen and notepad. Let your mind wander for at least 15 minutes tomorrow, and capture any valuable thoughts and ideas that come to you.