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Episode 135: Chris Bailey – How To Live A Life Of Productivity

Have you ever find yourself working long hours but achieving less? Learn from the productivity expert Chris Bailey. As some people are fascinated with sports, music, or other interests, Chris is obsessed with the subject of productivity. He read and studied all things about productivity that he can get his hands to, talked to productivity experts around the world, and took productivity experiments on his self. No doubt, he is one of the go-to guys regarding understanding the science behind human productivity. Today, Chris will be blessing us with productivity tips and hacks to help you achieve more regardless of all the distractions in today’s world.


Chris describes himself as a nerdy kid growing up who loves burying his face into books a little bit more than interaction with people. Even though he loves making deep connections and relationships with other people, if he has an hour to spare, he’ll use it in devouring information from a book. Growing up, he loves to self-experiment and dig into research and get to the bottom of the science behind what makes us human, which is productivity. He’s devoted his time today helping other people live life in accordance with what makes us human and what can make us optimally productive, creative, happy, and fulfilled.


Being productive does not mean working longer hours and spending sleepless nights. Be sure you are taking notes as Chris will be sharing productivity hacks. We will learn more about curiosity, how our mind works when it comes to retaining information, and exploring our creativity. We’ve touched other topics that I am sure will be of great interest to you, DreamNation tribe. Again, take notes and share this episode with everybody!


Here’s What You Missed


  • Learn productivity hacks from Chris
  • What can make us optimally productive, creative, happy and fulfilled?
  • How important is curiosity?
  • Understand the 3 things that we are naturally drawn to
  • Books and connection with people
  • The power of mind wandering

How To Live A Life Of Productivity?


Knowledge Nuggets


[2:51] Sometimes you get the best results just by going into things casually and without pretense and just jumping in and letting curiosity drive you.


[4:57] Productivity: The science of what makes us human on every single level. it’s how we function. It’s how we perform in a workplace type of environment. It’s how we can find calm.


[6:34] I think curiosity is the and should be the greatest driving force in our work and our lives.


[8:48] I like to open my ears instead of open my mouth, because you take in more that way and you’re able to process more that way and understand things a bit more that way.


[12:22] “Hey, you have an hour to spare. How are you going to spend it? Right. And if you can’t find a genuine connection there or something like that, pick up a book.


[15:19] “Love is no different than sharing quality attention with someone.” Quality attention and love are indistinguishable from one another.


[21:54] Our attentions naturally drawn to anything that’s three things: noble, pleasurable, and threatening.


[25:07] there is a point at which an algorithm becomes so good at understanding us and what we want on a basal impulsive level that we begin to lose control of our behavior when we’re in these apps. The internet is where our intention goes to die


[27:46] We need depth. We just need it because depth is what gives our lives meaning.


[29:20] I think most people don’t want to begin working hard. I think people love working hard when they’re working hard, but to get from the point of, you know, a nourish of not doing anything to that of working hard, that’s a really tough hill to climb.


[31:15] How to speed up? Jump totally into something, but jump into it for an amount of time that doesn’t put you off. Self-kindness is one of the biggest missing ingredients when it comes to our productivity. We’re so tough on ourselves.


[33:34] Tip: Shrink that resistance. The resistance that we have to do doing things usually that is all stacked at the beginning of a task. We have to get our minds used to work sometimes.


[36:22] Rest for 20 min every hour of work. we need that time to let our mind rest and wander a little bit, which allows us to come up with more ideas.


[37:37] Scatter focus: We think about our goals 14 times as often when our mind is wandering versus when we’re focused on something.


[40:40] Ultimately it’s mind wandering that gives our lives meaning. We spend so much of our time consuming anyway, that we need a chance to connect all that we have consumed.


[47:09] You have to give yourself no choice but to succeed. And you have to give yourself that choice at the point where you’re facing the most doubt. But at the point that you also realize that you know, enough people and you have the resources to make whatever you want to happen happen.


[49:45] How to take action: Understand how the business works and understand how you can bring value.


Important Reads and Links


Recommended Books:


Hyperfocus: How to Work Less to Achieve More by Chris Bailey

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

How Music Works by David Byrne

Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows


Chris Bailey Website:                                https://alifeofproductivity.com/

Chris Bailey Instagram:                                              https://www.instagram.com/chrisbaileyauth

Chris Bailey Twitter:                                                   https://twitter.com/chris_bailey

Chris Bailey Podcast:                                                 https://alifeofproductivity.com/becomingbetter/


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Download this episode’s transcript HERE


Click Here for a full transcript of this episode:

Casanova Brooks:

What’s up DreamNation. We are back again. In today’s episode, we have my friend, mr. Chris Bailey on the show. Chris is an expert when it comes to managing your time, managing your energy. And I tank managing your attention. So

I’ll tell you. for me. I want it to always be curiosity based. So a lot of the times, even when I’m getting be belonged to the show beforehand, they’ll say like, do you have any questions you can send me over? And it’s like, no, we’re not.

It’s going to be a dialogue. We’re going to have a real conversation.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah. The interview. Over you get thinking about the questions. And I know I have a podcast too, and sometimes send over a question or two and those answers, they’re always more scripted. They’re always more everything. I had one, you know, but it’s hard to get that natural.

Kind of vibe with somebody. I feel we’re kind of on the same wavelength with, with things, but, I had one photographer. This just reminds me of this random story. I had one photographer once that shot me for The Times or something. And, and like he, he said, “okay, while I set up my camera, just sit over there”.

and then he said, “Oh, The way you’re relaxing over there. That’s great. Let me take some pictures of you”. And later he revealed that this a trick, that he uses for everybody, every single person that he shoots, he tells them to sit down, then they relax and then that’s the starting place. And so sometimes you get the best results just by going into things casually and without pretense and just jumping in and letting curiosity drive you.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s what I always try to do curiosity, because just like you said, if you’re so scripted, I’m not really listening to you. I’m not waiting for the moment that I can ask my next question.

Chris Bailey:

Like one or one of the talking points over. So I can like interject enough long enough so that this guy or girl doesn’t go on forever.

Casanova Brooks:

Right. That’s exactly what it is. So from there, I always. Right. That’s the way that I love to go, but here’s what I want to do for people who don’t know who Chris Bailey is right

Chris Bailey:

How dare they man?, come on!

Casanova Brooks:

Oh, right. I mean the Ted talks. How many, how many views have you had on your Ted talks?

Chris Bailey:

I have no clue. I want to say.

Go ahead. Many millions or something.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah. I was going to say, I want to say that I read that it was somewhere over like 10 million views on your Ted talk.

Chris Bailey:

That sounds great.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, I know. Right, right. And as man, but that that’s, it’s so crucial and it’s such a great topic that we’re going to talk about today, but I always like to make sure that we give the proper introduction.

So for people who don’t know you, the way that I always make the analogy is I compare us thought leaders, entrepreneurs change-makers. To superheroes reason being is because we’re always putting on a Cape, we’re flying around the world and we’re trying to solve the biggest problems. So behind every Superman, there’s a Clark kent. And tell us, who is the Clark Kent behind Chris Bailey?.

Chris Bailey:

Okay. Wow. I love how you boost my ego so much before going. It’s great. Clark Kent behind Chris Bailey is a nerdy guy who loves to self experiment and dig into research and get to the bottom of the science behind what makes us human. And that’s the science of what makes us human on every.

Single level it’s productivity, which has been my work so far. It’s, it’s how we function. It’s how we perform in a workplace type of environment. It’s how we can find calm. You know, that’s, that’s something that a lot of us are kind of struggling with right now that I’m really nerding out about right now is what’s the science behind calm.

How can we structure our lives around that idea? And just, how can we align science with. The ways in which we live our lives so that we live in accordance with what makes us human and what can make us optimally productive, creative, happy. And fulfilled in every moment of our day, which of course adds up to every moment of our lives.

That’s always been, what’s driven me. And like you were saying, it comes back to that curiosity thing. The worst thing in the world, in my opinion is “curiosity killed the cat”. Whenever somebody, when, whenever I mentioned I’m curious, and somebody says that I like. I want to like shake them a bit. and, I’m Buddhist.

So that should say something because like curiosity has driven every single good and successful thing in my life because there’s, there’s an energy that comes from curiosity. That’s unlike. Energy that you find from any other place, if that kind of energy vibe vibrates that kind of a different frequency to every other kind of energy in our life.

it vibrates differences differently than motivation. It vibrates differently than, than passion vibrates. Differently from, from flow. I think curiosity is the, should be the greatest driving force in our work and our lives. And what connects to my curiosity are those topics, the science behind what makes us human.

So ultimately that’s kind of what I like to look at. And I like it. I try to let that drive me because by God we spent eight or more hours every day working. That’s a lot of time to spend on something that doesn’t engage us for God’s sake.

Casanova Brooks:

Right. Have you always been, a kid that you were always curious and then you found yourself like maybe not feeling like you were living in your own body and the reason why I say that is because you now have this calm, like even the moment that you got on you were just so cool, calm and collected.

I always say it’s Triple C. Right. You were cool, calm and collected. Were you always this way as a kid or did at one point you maybe just got too much anxiety and you said like, I got to tap into this to figure out how I can suppress the voices in my mind.

Chris Bailey:

I think the calm has always kind of been there.

there, there’s definitely been waves of anxiety, especially recently. and, and I noticed some anxiety occur after, after I published my, my second books is doing well. Is out into the world but I noticed that way too often, I was refreshing reviews. I was seeing what news coverage happened around it.

And I like seeing what people were saying about it online and kind of letting the, I think it’s probably the locus of control, that thing, you know, letting the external factors dictate what I paid attention to and what drove me instead of what was inside. So I had to kind of do a recentering after that, but I think in a way, You know the word that I’d use instead of the nice ones that you use.

I love how, like it’s nice being on the podcast with you. This is a lot of compliments, you know, calm, cool collected. I would put quiet before those. I’m I’m far more of a listener than I am a talker, which might sound weird coming from. Somebody who makes his living or used to before the pandemic, as a public speaker.

but you know, I like to open my ears instead of open my mouth, because you take in more that way and you’re able to process more that way and understand things a bit more that way. no matter how wrong you think people might be, you know, there’s always kind of a kernel of truth behind what they’re saying, even if it sounds deeply, deeply wrong on the surface.

and so I think quiet would be the word that I would use before I, and you know, growing up, I didn’t spend much time with other people. I, you know, I. Wasn’t this hustler, I wasn’t this like ultra networking guy. I would always just kind of be hunkered down inside of a book rather than spending time with other people.

So I think quiet would be the word that I use. And I think there’s a certain calm that comes from quiet, but quiet kind of precedes that. If that makes sense.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, no, at a hundred percent does. And that’s, what’s so interesting for me. Always love to hear different person . And so you brought that up and you were saying that basically there’s a kernel of truth.

And I early on understood that even if you don’t like the person, don’t be mad at the information. Right. Cause the information, and it kind of goes right to your point. So it’s like a lot of the times we get, we, we tie so much emotional attachment to something that we don’t look past it to get that kernel of information.

And so I love that you brought that part up for you. When did you decide that? Because you said I didn’t, I didn’t really like people. I didn’t really know

Chris Bailey:

people. I would just rather rather spend time with a book than a person.

Casanova Brooks:

Got it makes sense. Makes sense. Now

Chris Bailey:

when, just like, like, you know, if you valid curiosity and information, like I value people highly.

I don’t want, I don’t want it to come across the wrong way, but like, A book for every hour you spend in a book you’re you have the opportunity to learn just so, so much and a conversation, you know, there’s so such value and connection, but I think less value in conversation than there isn’t connection because.

I don’t know, like, just minute for minute, that the time that you spend in a book is can provide like one little sentence can totally change your life. Right? If you read one sentence and it hits you at the right place, the right time in your life, the right circumstances, all that stuff, it could make you lose 40 pounds and keep it off for the rest of your life.

It can lead you to. Become more motivated and connected with who you are and what you value than you’ve ever been before. Like that’s what a book can do. And a good person can do this too. But man, like this is, this is what I find fascinating.

Casanova Brooks:

Do you think that, just what popped into my head was, do you think that you’re just anti distraction?

Because when you get into a conversation with someone you like with that book, you don’t have anything to distract you because it’s all on that one specific topic. Whereas with a person they could go all around the Bush or whatever, and you’re then you’re just like, like get back to the point.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah, I think it’s like, okay, we only have so much time in the world, so how can we make the most of it?

And like, I like spending time with people in so far as I can form a connection with them, like a, like a deep connection with them. Good friend. And my wife and I have this, like, it’s, it’s beautiful. There’s nothing, there’s no, you know, for small, more beautiful in a, in a person’s life and the connection between them and other people.

but. I think, I think, I just think like, Hey, you have an hour to spare. How are you going to spend it? Right. And if you can’t find a genuine connection there or something like that, pick up a book. You know, by God,

Casanova Brooks:

is there a way, because you’ve talked a lot in this beginning about energy and now it’s really the spirit, right?

The connection, the deep, meaningful connection. Is there a way that you’ve tried to learn how to be? Let me ask you this. Would you classify yourself as an introvert or

Chris Bailey:

a hundred percent introvert?

Casanova Brooks:

Got it. So for you, and obviously a lot of people when you get done with your speeches, right? A lot of people probably come up to you and you’re getting so many different types of personalities.

Have you found a way, like a hack to try to figure out right away, if you can build a relationship or connection with this person instantly?

Chris Bailey:

Hmm. You mean over time? Like

Casanova Brooks:

someone comes up to you, if you can instantly tell, like, this is not going to be a productive conversation for me, or if you’re like, I think we can get somewhere with this.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah. Talk, it’s a bit different because it’s usually people that have questions about the talk and, you know, they want their books signed or pictures or something like that, depending on, depending on where it is. but I think like we, most of us have a sense of when somebody has kind of, I, you know, I hesitate to use the word energy so much, but it’s, it’s the best.

Kind of template framework, word that comes to mind for me. Like, I kind of have a sense of when somebody has the same type of energy that I do or positive energy. I think we all kind of do if some of us are a better judge of people than others, but we can tell when somebody is genuinely excited, When they’re genuinely genuinely interested.

And when they’re genuinely curious about what we’re chatting about, like w w we all have this kind of sense, speaking of distraction, speaking of attention, we all kind of have this sense when somebody’s mind is elsewhere. Like, it’s good. It’s a good thing. You do video interviews because you probably have.

You know, you would probably have this every once in a while, somebody checking their phone, looking down or looking around, fiddling around, like we can tell when somebody is not spending, not, not only quality time, but quality attention with us as well. And this was the driving force behind the, the second book that I published, which was called hyperfocus is attention is everywhere.

Right, right. We’re, we’re either engaged with what we’re doing or our mind is ‘like on dinner or it’s on the fact that we haven’t worked out or it’s on the fact that we’ve gained 19 pounds in quarantine, whatever. like we can sense when somebody is a genuine presence. There’s a quote from somebody that I think it’s a quote.

I don’t, it might be something that I wrote. I don’t know. I forget sometimes, which ideas are mine and which ones come from other places because they all kinda blend into one another, but there’s one quote. That you know, “love is no different than sharing quality attention with someone”, you know, that quality attention and love are indistinguishable from one another.

Right. Love is just in other words, engagement with what we’re doing. We can’t be engaged and depressed or engaged and anxious or engaged and just kind of restless. At the same time, like that’s kind of the driving force behind productivity, behind focus behind curiosity.

Casanova Brooks:

I would a hundred percent agree with that.

And it’s interesting that you bring that up because then it always, I’m sure somebody listening or watching right now is to say like, am I being, and what I got from that was, am I right in present? Right. Am I truly present in this moment? Whether it’s my kid’s basketball game, soccer game, I’m at work. Am I present?

Here’s what I want to ask you. A lot of the times when we create a solution, it’s based out of a frustration. A frustration that we had. And sometimes it can even be, you know, linked back to when we were a child. And I was talking to Jack Canfield on the podcast about this. and he said, you know, so many of our issues, and now the solutions that we’ve created have come from things from we were a child.

So my question to you is, do you feel like at some point in your life, you were not experiencing love, which is the reason why you said, why can’t everything be. Essentially you being present, you showing the quality attention. So this is the problem that I want to solve in the world.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah. You know, in a way I think, you know, I think growing up and maybe a lot of us fall into this category, I didn’t receive enough love from myself and, and maybe this love of books at an early age, like who spends time with books instead of people, may, maybe it came from the fact that I didn’t feel worthy enough to spend time with other people.

and so as from an extension of that, I didn’t consider myself to be worthy of other people and I didn’t consider other people to be worthy of me. And I kind of used that self-talk as an excuse to spend more time with books, maybe I still do this from today, so maybe I’m going to have a breakdown after our conversation, but, but, but I think like, I think there’s definitely something to that where we, we crave connection as people, and we need a connection.

People, you know, the, the deep connections I have with friends, with my wife, with family, I value that more highly than any book, obviously. but you know, it’s, yeah, that’s such a fascinating idea. I think we ultimately crave engagement, which is kind of a different form of love, loving what we’re doing.

Casanova Brooks:

Facts. And that’s why I asked that because I think when he said that to me, I’ve read it in other like blogs and things. And you can always trace back if there’s a reason that you have a story that you’re telling yourself, or even that you’re telling other people, where did it really come from? Right. And my second point to that.

And I think that this is relevant in today’s world, and I would love your opinion on it is how much of this do you think that your parents enabled that story that you told yourself? And maybe it’s not, I’m just asking you because for a lot of parents

Chris Bailey:

probably is that all starts with our parents, doesn’t it.

Casanova Brooks:

Right. And that’s exactly what, and so right now, Around the world, people are going through a pandemic. And so also technology, Nintendo, switches, iPads, all of these things, kids are getting more and more and more of it, right? Regardless of, you’re not even really going through a pandemic. You see so much.

Now I remember five, seven years ago, little kids were not on. Cell phones and iPads like that. Now every little kid has their mom or dad, or maybe even their own cell phone and they’re watching it, which is allowing them to not have to be social with the people around them. So my question to you is do you feel like your parents enabled, because what it seemed like you were coping with you then picked up a book to find that meaningful connection to you, whereas your parents didn’t say, Hey, Chris, No.

I want you to put that book down and go outside and play with someone. Do you feel like that’s a thing.

Chris Bailey:

Maybe, I think, you know, both my parents are psychologists and so that’s why I’m probably so messed up. We’re all messed up just differently, right? Yeah. but I think they, they kind of encouraged me to follow and they always kind of try to push me to.

Be social and stuff like that, but I’m kind of grateful in a way that they didn’t push too hard. because the ideas that, I was able to connect to, you know, I remember pouring over their collection of psychology textbooks that they had just lying around the house. Right. I remember reporting through those and not really understanding much, but understanding enough to.

Keep me going in unraveling what I could find inside of that book and the next one. And yeah, I don’t, I don’t know how much of it would be come from that. I, if anything, they were encouraging of, of the direction that I was going in, but it was, it was really that. That early connection with curiosity and letting me, you know, Them creating an environment in which I felt free enough to explore what I wanted to and knowing that it was okay to, you know, if I got invited to a party to say, okay, no, I’d rather read.

I’d rather connect more information just because that’s what I want more. Hmm. And

Casanova Brooks:

I, and I love it. And again, there’s not necessarily shots at anyone it’s just as a parent, we’re all wondering what’s the best thing to do. And, and sometimes we’re not really, we just want to hear different perspectives. And so for me, am I thinking I should have let my kid go be free.

And if that’s what he wants to do is be in a book. Or if we feel like we do need that engagement, we do need that, connection. And I see that my kid has it, at least in my opinion, seems like they’re veering off. Towards being more of an outlier in terms of autonomy and not wanting to have that connection, should I try to steer them in the other direction?

Chris Bailey:

It’s more of a challenge these days, especially with regard to technology, because things aren’t. On an even playing field. you know, I write about in, in the second book, I’ll try not to mention the name too much. Cause I hate when people promote the hell out of their stuff. but like I talk about how are our attentions naturally drawn to anything.

That’s three things, a novel pleasurable and threatening. And if you look at what draws our attention. It’s our phone. . So it comes from our evolution, like, like most of these things do. So the reason that we gravitate to what’s new and novel is because our brain rewards us for seeking and then finding something new and novel.

And so, there there’s even a mechanism in our brains, prefrontal cortex, the logical center of our brain, by which for every new and novel thing, we direct our attention at our mind rewards us with a hit of dopamine, that chemical of anticipation of pleasure. And so our brain thinks, okay, I’m going to get a reward.

And we get this every time we check Instagram, , we get a hit of dopamine. We check email. We get another hit of dopamine. We check that, go over to check the news. We get another hit of dopamine. And the reason that that’s the case, it actually helped us to survive through to the, to this day because instead of, hyper-focusing on building the perfect fire for our village, we redirected our attention towards what ever was novel in our environment.

Maybe it was a saber tooth tiger rustling in the trees near us. We looked at that, we dealt with the threat. We survive to live another day and build another fire, you know? That saber tooth tiger, which was a combination of a novel, a threatening thing.

We also have novel pleasurable things around us. you know, you know, evolutionary speed, at least speaking, it helped us, you know, find mates and find food and things like that. These days, it helps us find pictures of models in our explore tab tab on Instagram, you know? And so the, these things manifested themselves in different ways.

And the reason that it’s more of an uphill battle is there’s algorithms at work behind apps like tech talk and Instagram and all these, all these services. That don’t just show us what’s novel and pleasurable and threatening. They show us by using all the information they have about us, our location, what’s on our clipboard on our phone.

Like all these different factors. They combine them all using algorithms and data science to show us what is optimally novel. For us to show us what’s optimally pleasurable for us to show us what’s optimally threatening for us, which is why, of course, all these services are going away from the timeline in which we have a chronological list of all the updates from the people that we follow and towards.

A personalized timeline. So these services can surface what’s most novel to us and get better we’re over time. And so we spend more time on Twitter and more time on Facebook, more time on Instagram, more time on Tik Tok. I think I read the average teenager spends over an hour on Tik Tok. I don’t, I didn’t even know what tick-tock was like a month ago.

Now I’m reading these stats about how much time we spend on Tik Tok as a collective whole. And it’s because there is a point at which an algorithm becomes so good at understanding us and what we want on a basal impulsive level that. We begin to lose control of our behavior when we’re in these apps.

so you might have encountered that phenomenon where, you know, you’re on Instagram or wherever, and you accidentally swipe over to the wrong screen and your selfie camera fires up. And we rarely have this like grin from ear to ear on our face, where we’re fully engaged, where we’re fully present, where we’re fully experiencing the love.

Of Instagram. We kind of have this zonked out, zoned out, glazed over expression on our face. And it’s because we don’t know. How we’re spending our time and we don’t know why we’re behaving the way we are. and you know, that’s a slippery slope when it comes to technology. When we begin to lose control of our intentionality, we begin to lose grasp of our intention.

I love simple rituals, right? Like the, you know, just before we came on the call, I just drink decaf coffee right now, but I got some like nice, fresh beans. Nice Swiss water. A decaffeinated coffee. I ground them. by hand I, I use the know the nice French bread, nice ritual. And I just sat and had a cup of coffee.

Like it was a beautiful moment. And I love that because I got to experience the full intention that drove that behavior. the internet is where our intention goes to die. and, and so, you know, it used to be a level playing field. Especially when it comes to raising kids, especially when it comes to how we’re spending our time.

You know? So going back to that question of growing up, it was a level playing field. You know, I, I would only rather read a book a bit than spend time with people, but these days it’s not level, we would far, far rather in the moment refresh our feeds than spend time with other people. Because even though there’s less value.

In that deep social connection with somebody there may be less, you know, impulsive in the moment, pleasure or threats, with that person there’s far, far more meaning because we’re able to have that connection on that deeper level instead of that surface level. so trying to tie, trying to remember if there’s any loose threads to tie together for this example, but it’s we need depth.

Hmm. Right. We just need it because depth is what gives our lives, meaning right. So, if you look to when you last got, like, when you got your first smartphone, your first iPhone, your first Android phone, whatever, do you remember less since that time? Like, do you feel that you’ve lost a bit of meaning in your life?

Do you feel you’re a bit less engaged with your life? You find that you’re spending your life a bit less intentionally. There’s a reason behind all these factors. At play and it’s because we’re, we’re losing control of our behavior a little bit.

Casanova Brooks:

Huh, that’s super interesting that you bring all of that up.

And, and I often think about that, right? Because I am somebody that values connections and relationships and things like that. But I would be lying if I said that this phone was not, you know, a lot of the times taking control because it’s just, and you start to wonder why, and in my mindset, and I wonder for everyone, is it just because.

There’s a saying out there that, that death’s gotta be easy because life is hard. Right. So life there’s so much emotion. That’s tied up in it. We all want to become the best version of ourselves. We all want to do more. We want to learn more. We want to be seen more. We want to be heard more all of these things.

So there, the reality of it is, is most people don’t really want to work that hard. Right? They love the end result, but most people don’t really want to harvest and seed and really grow in water. So

Chris Bailey:

I think most people don’t want to begin working hard. I think people love working hard when they’re working hard, but to get from the point of, you know, a nourish of not doing anything to that of working hard, that’s a really tough Hill to climb.

Casanova Brooks:

It’s like the law of motion right there in motion. Stay in motion.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah, it’s a flywheel, right? Like if a flywheel is spinning and has been spinning for a long time, there’s far less energy. Required to keep it spinning, but if you have a flywheel, that’s totally stopped. Good luck getting it started without applying a ton of force and energy into that system.

You know, it’s why that saying, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. So why that exists? Right?

Casanova Brooks:

Well, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. Believe it or not.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah. It’s you know, it’s, there’s, there’s so much truth behind those things because there’s, you know, the greatest, energy when it comes for hard work comes in that momentum.


Casanova Brooks:

think that’s a great segment into my, so my question to you off of that is how does someone speed up, right? The motion to get to be in busy, because right now we’re, we’re just at, at, at a standstill. How can I, what hacks, what product kit productivity hacks in specific can I do to get my momentum going?

Chris Bailey:

Yeah, do it for five minutes. That’s it, you know, it’s, it’s jumping in a pool, right? It’s if you know, a pool is cold and you start in, in, in the shallow end and you like you, like tip-toe a little bit and you, you like, you’re, you’re freezing cold by the time they get to the deep end. Whereas if you jumped right into the deep end, you’re just gonna.

Warm up in five seconds. Like your whole body is, is immersed in it. And so I think jump totally into something, but jump into it for an amount of time that doesn’t put you off. And so I, I think, you know, self-kindness is one of the biggest missing ingredients when it comes to our productivity. We’re so tough on ourselves.

I think, you know, when we integrate some self-kindness into that productivity ritual, so meditation is something that a lot of people struggle with.

It’s something that, that I like to write about just because of the. Sure productivity benefits. It can provide a person. but people say, okay, I don’t have time to meditate, but then you see them watching like reruns of Friends, you know, 10 episodes in a row. Okay. So you have time, you have time for friends, but you don’t have time to meditate.

but. By shrinking how long we do something for in our head until we find our point of mental resistance, we can overcome that same mental resistance so we can ask ourselves something like, okay, do I have, do I want to meditate for half an hour today? No way. The thought of it puts me off. Okay. What about 20 minutes?

No way. No way in hell. What about 10? It’s getting better, but okay. What about five? Yeah, I can meditate for five minutes. So then you meditate for five minutes. and. You can go on past that point, but you don’t have to. And I think work is the exact same way and it kind of has the effect of a deadline at the same time.

So you might say, okay, do I want to work on podcast prep? Let’s say, for two hours today, no way. The thought of it puts me off. Okay. What about, what about an hour? It’s closer, but okay. 45, but yeah, I could do 45 minutes. So you set a timer for 45 minutes. You jump in and you tell yourself at the beginning of this, so we can kind of use ourselves, talk to it, to our advantage in a way, you know, I’m not going to allow myself to work on this beyond this 45 minutes.

And so it has the effect of a deadline at the same way, where you expend more energy over a shorter distance of time. So you can get that thing accomplished maybe in the two hours that you’re there. Maybe you will get more accomplished in those 45 minutes than the two hours that you were going to give yourself originally, because you weren’t going to work with that, with that focused amount of attention.

and so I think, you know, those methods. Together, creating a, kind of, kind of drives the motivation, gets the flywheel spinning really, really quick. It’s kind of like a jumpstart starting the flywheel. So it’s shrinking that resistance, right? If you find that you have a lot of mental resistance to doing something that’s okay.

and the thing about. Resistance that we have to do doing things usually that is all stacked at the beginning of a task, right? It’s it’s the equivalent of the five seconds when we first jumped into the deep end of the pool, where we’re freezing cold, but then once we get past those five seconds, we’re immersed.

And our, our body’s used to it. Right. We have to get our mind used to working sometimes. And so whatever you can do to get started, even if it’s doing something for two minutes, that, that works wonders, honestly.

Casanova Brooks:

The question then I have is once people get in and they’ve now started this for five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, right then let’s fast

Chris Bailey:

forward. The wheel is spinning. The wheel is spinning.

Casanova Brooks:

Do you then think that most people don’t know how to turn it off and take brakes, this is why they burn out or, you know, is that something that’s like now, while you got the momentum going, you got to try to squeeze out everything because once you stop again, you know, it’s going to be very hard to get it back.

Chris Bailey:

I think the reason it’s hard to stop is because when we become engaged with what we’re doing, we lose awareness of. Of us, right. We lose awareness of how our energy is depth. Maybe a little bit of how our focus has waned a little bit. You know, we all have these periods when we’re trying to work so hard and, and we find ourselves reading the same email 10 or 15 times, and just kind of struggling to piece together and form sentences even because we’ve just been going at it for too long and too hard and all that stuff.

I think, you know, An unfortunate. Side effect of becoming totally engrossed hyper-focused with our work is that we lose a bit of this thread of awareness that we almost have too much of before we started working in the first place. Right. We know how much we don’t want to get started before we start, but once we start, we totally forget about how we didn’t want to start in the first place and we lose track of how.

Time flies and how, less energy we have and how we’re, we’re becoming a bit disengaged. So I think the end, sir, you know, there’s a lot of advice out there. you know, one study that I found. It shows that we should break for about 15 or 20 minutes for every hour of work that we do, which seems a lot like a lot, honestly, until you account for the fact that over say an eight hour day, that’s a one hour lunch break and a 15 minute break in the, in the morning, in the afternoon.

which isn’t a lot. It’s not a lot. And we need that time to let our mind rest and wander a little bit, which allows us to come up with more ideas. Right? If you think too, when your best ideas strike you, you’re rarely focused on anything. Maybe you’re taking a shower, maybe you’re going for a walk through nature and boom.

Right. The solution to a problem I’ve been incubating for like a goddamn month, just hit me. so it’s like in these moments of quiet restoration that our mind is able to connect and, and piece together the ideas that are swirling around in our mind.

and, We tell ourselves a story. So we can stories. We tell ourselves, we tell ourselves a story that when we’re not focused, we’re not working. Right, right. When we’re going for a walk, we’re not working. When we’re taking a shower, we’re not working. Jesus. We plan out our entire day, the shower, how are we not working?

Right. We actually think, you know, Speaking of our goals, we think about our goals 14 times as often. When our mind is wandering versus when we’re focused on something 14 times as much. Right? So when focus is a way of moving our work and our life forward, but taking a bit of time to unfocus, I call it scatter focus.

When we purposefully let our mind rest and wander, we tell ourselves that we don’t work when our attention is scattered, but we often work harder. Without even realizing it and without even intending to, because we pieced together an entire day, we think about our goals 14 times as often, we actually think about the future.

48% of the time when our mind is wandering, versus when we’re focused on something, we think about the future rarely at all. so I think, you know, breaks are important, but awareness of how much energy we have. Which should precede the breaks we do take so we can time them so that they actually benefit us when we have less energy, it’s even more important.

So one simple hack to do this is to set an hourly time on your phone, like get an app that rings every hour on the hour and when it goes off, they, okay. How much energy do I have? Do I need to take a step back? Do I need to work a bit harder and let my mind wander a little bit? Do I need to, you know, just disconnect.

For for a bit, because we think when we disconnect and when we stop working that we’re no longer working, just because we’re not focused, but I think the opposite is the case.

Casanova Brooks:

And so when you say disconnect, a simple hack to do that, are you saying like, maybe go take a walk or you were saying maybe hit social media or don’t hit social media.

Chris Bailey:

I would hit anything that is not novel. Find something that isn’t novel that isn’t, you know, immediately pleasurable or threatening. Don’t check the news. Don’t don’t, you know, we, we think that when we switch contexts, In our work that we’re taking a break, you know, we go from like, let’s say, I want to take a break after this, you know, go from doing an interview to, okay, I’m going to check Instagram and Twitter.

Like, that’s just the context switch. he, you know, we need to do something in our breaks that lets our mind wander. I think that’s the key. And you know, so yeah, social media will never let your mind wander playing a video game will never let your mind wander doing a puzzle. Would let your mind wander going for a run would let you, you know, making a nice cup of coffee, having a ritual around that or making a nice cup of tea.

Will let your mind wander knitting. I love to knit. I just happened to have my knitting needles in the yard here. I haven’t started a new thing yet. I’ll to mail you a dish cloth. but like I love to knit cause it lets the mind rest and wander. So what,

Casanova Brooks:

what I hear you saying is don’t go consume information when you’ve gotten done, because social media, the news, whatever, even listening to audio book or something, if this is supposed to be your break for 10 to 15 minutes, like you need to do something that doesn’t allow consumption, because then you can really go after creativity.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah, exactly. And we spend so much of our time consuming anyway, that we need a chance to. Connect all that we have consumed. So, so that gives us meaning, you know, ultimately it’s mind wandering that gives our lives meaning. Cause if we jump from moment to moment to moment to moment to moment to moment to moment, we never have the time to process or connect anything.

Right. But like, if we like the same, if we have 10 kids at home and we never have a chance to, to reflect on the meaning that they give us in our lives, They, that won’t be a meaningful relationship, right? It’s time away from the people that went, that we love, that makes us grateful for them. That makes us reflect on how meaningful they are in our lives, how great of a presence they are in our lives.

And our work is the same way. Honestly, if you want to spend more meaningful time at work, don’t find more meaningful projects. You’re probably already doing meaningful projects. So you need a perspective to show you that they are meaningful.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it, man. This is, this is definitely been so much wisdom in this episode that I said this in the beginning, I knew that it was going to be fire bombs all day long.

Let me ask what’s been over cause you, do you consume a lot of other people’s information or are you very intentional with making sure that you don’t outside of your breaks?

Chris Bailey:

I read a lot. Yeah, that’s kind of the main thing I consume. I try not to consume that much news or social media they’ll though. I like, I like to veg out like anyone I’m rewatching every episode of the West wing right now.

So I’d be, I’d be lying if I pretended to be like, holier than thou and just like. This Saint of productivity, like Jesus, I love Indian food and wine and like, and, and pizza way too much. And just binge watching the office. Like, it’s like, we need a balance of, of all this stuff, right. And so I don’t follow this advice 100% of the time, but I follow about 80% of the time.

I read a lot of long form articles and books. Mostly.

Got it. What’s the, what’s something in the last six months that’s really helped to change your perspective.

How music works. It’s a book by David Byrne. he’s, he’s a singer. I hadn’t even heard of the, the band before called the talking heads. And it’s about how the music industry works and how, how.

Music comes into being that the industry behind music, they, you know, just even the room, the music is composed and how that’s changed over time. How musicians used to perform for concert halls and, and like how different genres play for different venues. It’s, it’s, it’s fascinating. It’s, it’s something that we don’t think about that much, but music follows us wherever we go.

And so it’s like, that’s sometimes my favorite kind of information to consume where. It doesn’t relate to what I’m doing sometimes, not even in the slightest, but the connections I’m able to perform in this case between the publishing industry and the music industry sometimes are profile down. So that it’s a great read.

I’d actually highly recommend it, even though it’s published probably about 10 years ago. So the business stuff, like he doesn’t talk about streaming and stuff like that, but that’s one that’s changed how I think, Oh, I’m also there. I can’t remember the name of the book. It’s a book about insects, buzz, Sting Bite. Yeah. Is the name of it. We never think about insects, but, there’s actually 200 million insects for every person in the world.

So maybe think about these little creatures.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And again, I always say I love different perspectives. And so I was someone else’s actually told me. I’ve never read it, but told me about that same book of how music works and how it’s phenomenal on their perspective. It’s

Chris Bailey:

not a surprise it’s and at first I thought.

Okay. Why the hell would I read this book? I, you know, I listen to music. I don’t care, and how it comes in, but I heard it recommended from one or two more people after that. And, you know, usually you can tell when, you know, somebody who’s not traditionally an author has worked with a ghost writer, I think like 80 or 90% of books are ghost written, but you can tell he wrote this themselves just the way he, he writes about things in the book and that really comes across as passion, curiosity, and just sheer amount of fascinating information, really highly recommended.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, I’m definitely going to check it out. We just got a couple questions left, that come to my head. First one, you’ve talked a lot about reading. Let me know where you stand on the controversy of his audio books reading.

Chris Bailey:

Yes. I think we process them differently, but, and sometimes what comes across. In an audio book is more, you know, we get more of the spirit of the book, then we do the text of the book.

And so I think we have to be wise when it comes to the books we do read, in each format, we should bring a bit of thoughtfulness to that. You know, if you find you don’t retain much in audio books, maybe switch to print books, but if you find that you do retain a lot. I think they’re just as, as great as a physical book and they count, they count.

Casanova Brooks:

Good. Yeah, I’ve been in that debate a couple of times, cause I’m always so fast going. And for me, I love audio books and my car, things like that, but that debate comes up a lot and I think now it doesn’t really matter. It’s just, like you said, do you retain yourself that you retain then? It’s why not?

You’re still consuming. I

Chris Bailey:

do have a bias, in this I’m working with. audio book site called audible. I’m writing an audio, an original for them, an audible original on meditation and productivity. So I should put that disclaimer out there. This is because after people have that information that they might think, man, this guy’s a shill.

He doesn’t, you know, he, he’s not speaking, but I really do believe that they count.

Casanova Brooks:

Cool. The other thing I was wondering is what’s the one thing looking at, cause people see where you are now, right? You’re an expert when it comes to productivity, right. You’re an expert when it comes to managing your energy, right.

And managing your time. And let me ask what’s the one thing looking back that you think would have helped to accelerate your dream. If you just figured this out sooner.

Chris Bailey:

That’s a great question. A lot, a lot. one, one thing that I would have told myself a bit earlier is that you have to give yourself no choice, but to succeed.

And you have to give yourself that choice at the point where you’re facing the most doubt. But at the point that you also realize that you know, enough people and you have the resources to make whatever you want to happen happen.

Casanova Brooks:

I love it. There’s somebody out there right now that has been inspired by this conversation.

They love your path. They’d love everything that they can consume by you. And they want to go on a similar path, but they have that little voice in their head. And that little voice says that they’re not strong enough. They’re not smart enough or maybe they don’t have enough resources. What’s the one thing that you would say to that person to get them to just take action.

Chris Bailey:

Yeah. Look at the system that you’re entering into and look at the contribution you can make within that. System. So if you’re going into publishing, understand the system, understand how it works and how you can be a part of that. You try to do something outside the system. especially when it comes to big industries like that.

If you try to do something and like it might go against the traditional advice, follow your. Heart, whatever the, the adversity might be, but oftentimes that won’t work out and oftentimes it doesn’t work out because you had an uphill battle from the very beginning because you had the wrong approach. I think understand the system that you’re entering into, understand the challenges, understand the adversity and.

Fall really follow that gut, honestly like collect all the information that you possibly can and follow that intuition. There’s science behind intuition, where intuition is when information is activated within our brain. And it doesn’t break through, into our consciousness. So we can’t see the information that is being activated, but we can, we can feel it self compelled to act differently because of the fact that we’ve consumed enough information about a given topic to feel.

A certain way about it. so follow that feeling after you understand the system that you’re entering into and the constraints that you’re going to be operating underneath. I don’t, I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense, but, but systems thinking is something that helped me a lot in, in this journey.

Thinking in systems is a great book. I forget who wrote it. Some, some lady, well, you’ll have to put it in the show notes, but we will understand the system that you’re entering into. you know, real estate is a good example of that, right? You have to underst like you need that. You need that drive. You need that hustle, but you also need to understand how the business works and understand how you can bring value.

If you try to be. Some niche, real estate agent that doesn’t fit within that existing system. You’re not going to be successful, right? Like you need to, you need to fit with where things are going

anyway. Yeah, no, I think that’s a very good perspective, right? It’s like, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, right.

You just basically move along the system. And then as you come up within the system, obviously you can make tweaks, you can make changes and you can try to figure out how to put your own, spin your own unique ability on it. But in the beginning, a lot of the times is just like you said, just getting that inertia, going, that momentum going in the beginning and you’re going to come up.

Against a lot more resistance if you’re trying to reinvent the wheel, which means that that frustration will cause you to not even

start. Exactly. Yeah. But yeah. Understand the system and then you can be more creative in the ways in which you buck against it. Right. Right. It’s like Twitter, right. You only have 280 characters or whatever it is now.

There’s some great tweets out there because of that limitation. Not, not in spite of it.

Casanova Brooks:

Yeah, no, I think that’s a great, great perspective for anybody who wants to stay connected with you. Tell us where can they find you at?

Chris Bailey:

Oh man. Well, my books are The Productivity Project and Hyper-Focus. I’m on Twitter.

@Chris_Bailey I’m on there too much. I don’t tweet a lot, but I read, I read way too many tweets. I’d be far happier if I wasn’t. I think I’m on Instagram too. I forget what my handle is. and you have my, Oh, my website. It’s a life of productivity.com. That’s where my podcast is, which is called Becoming Better.

And that’s where I blog occasionally activity though. I’m taking a bit of time off this summer. Cause cause it’s sunny out.

Casanova Brooks:

Well, man, we loved having you on the show. Well, I want to be the first one to kick off this. Thank you. Train. It has been a phenomenal episode and we really just appreciate all of the wisdom.

And hopefully there was a lot of notes taken because a lot of people can change their situation and more importantly, change their mindset just by listening at the productivity hacks that you gave us today. So remember DreamNation just as he said in the dream we trust, but we got to take action. Even if it’s within the system, because otherwise it’ll only merely be a fantasy.

We’ll catch you on the next one.





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