This book is a work of subtle genius. Someone should be doing what Chris Bailey has done in every field of human endeavor. He makes himself into a human laboratory , spending a year reading and testing out every productivity idea he can find. About half of them turn out not to live up to the hype, but that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that about half do turn out to be worthwhile, and he continues to use them after the project has ended.
What is 'productivity,' exactly? Those of us who love office supplies may have a slightly different picture of it, something that involves a lot of file folders and bar charts. Really what it comes down to is living intentionally. It's managing your energy, time, and attention effectively. Traditional productivity books have more to say about managing calendars, email, and task lists. Chris tells us what we need to know about procrastination, distraction, and tinkering with our sleep and other physical inputs. We're apt to glaze over when we keep hearing the same advice over and over again, such as "eat healthy and get plenty of sleep." When someone talks about experiments such as eating the same food at every meal for a week or working in total isolation for ten days, we perk up. Wait, I haven't heard this one!
I have read more than my share of productivity books, yet I learned a lot from The Productivity Project. One point that captured my attention was that our minds wander about 47% of the time! Time to learn to meditate... Another point was that up to 77% of our self-talk is negative, and it "goes through the roof" when we're procrastinating. Now that is some food for thought. It turns out that the act of making a to-do list makes us less productive, while looking at pictures of cute animals can make us more productive. See, this is why you need this book.
It's a rare book that can be equally useful to both workaholics and chronic procrastinators. This is that book. What everyone is looking for is that sweet spot where work is interesting and fulfilling, and leisure feels well-deserved. Those of us in the 20% of chronic procrastinators know that procrastinating is not fun, not at all. We can't let ourselves relax because we know there's something we should be doing, and we're not living up to our own standards. It's irrational. Yet we can't seem to make ourselves do what needs to be done. The workaholics among us are on the other end, hankering after the flow state of work and its rewards so much that it's hard to shut off and tend to even our physical needs. Both groups could learn from the approach of The Productivity Project: There are more and less effective ways of getting things done, other people have tested them, and we can try them for ourselves if we are skeptical.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.