The Productive Life

Lesson 7/17 - Hotspots


The Productive Life


Lesson Info


The final idea that I have to share with you has to do with seeing your life from 10,000 feet. And that idea, it's a curious one. And it's called hotspots. Now hotspots are you life at 10,000 feet. And at a high level, these are the seven areas of your life that you invest your time, your attention, and your energy into. And they're essentially a practical way of looking at who you are. And here they are. This is where we spend our time, our attention, and our energy. The first is our mind. The second is our body. The third is our emotions. The fourth is our career. The fifth are our finances. The sixth are the relationships that we have. And seven are having fun. And the hotspots that you have might vary, but I find that across different groups, these are the ones that most people have. Mind, body, emotions, finances, relationships, career, and fun. And what you'll find is that there are probably certain hotspots that you invest more time and more attention into. Like perhaps you're w...

atching this and you're just starting out in your career. And you might find that your career and your finances take precedence over having fun and the relationships and your emotions. Maybe, on the other hand, you're retired. And your relationships and having fun take precedence over things like your career and your finances, which are kind of on autopilot mode. And so essentially the idea is that these are the areas that we spread our time over. Every single day we're spending time in one of these hotspots at one time. And so this is a way of looking at your life from this higher perspective. And what I love doing with this especially is to create a scannable list. And so every Sunday I look over this list that has every single hot spot expanded for me. And so for an example, I'll expand my body hotspot with eating and nutrition. So every Sunday I'll reflect on how I ate the previous week and how I wanna eat the week forward, exercise and sleeping and even stuff like dental work. It's a great prod. Eyes, stress, whatever it might be that fall under this hotspot for you. And so essentially what you do is you review the list every single week and it culls to mind things that you've neglected. And it's a great way to consider how balanced you wanna be. The mind. This is what's under my mind hotspot: acquiring new knowledge from books and articles I've saved and podcasts and RSS feeds, meditation, which we'll talk a little bit about later. If productivity's about working deliberately and intentionally, meditation actually fits in with that new definition. Music is a powerful relaxer for the mind. Sunshine, something that we don't have a lot of right now in Canada, so I got one of those happy lights. Because I find that I need it. Mindfulness, and the space between the different elements of my work, so I have time to reflect and actually appreciate the things that I accomplish. The idea is that when you expand your hotspots, these seven areas of your life, and you review this list every week, which takes five or ten minutes, you're able to see the areas of your life that you've neglected, that you want to spend and invest more time, attention, and energy into. And it's this remarkable way of seeing your life from 10,000 feet. It's just like listing out the activities that you do over the course of your work. When you review that list, you can see your work from 10,000 feet and kind of play productivity god and think, okay, this one is the most important task that I have every day. It's essential that I spend more time on it. And the hotspots are the same way. And review it weekly and think how balanced do you want to be? And this is the thing that I think is missed in a lot of the work/life ideas out there. And, of course, everybody's different. But some people don't want to be balanced. Maybe we're just starting out in our career and we want to overinvest in our career. And we're totally fine with working longer hours. But maybe we're in the opposite situation. The trick is to do this with intentionality, deciding how balanced we want to be in the first place. One way I love doing that is by setting minimums and maximums for how much time I'll spend in each of these areas. And so for an example, I'll share my own mins and maxs with you guys. For example, my mind hotspot, I don't have one. Because I find that I have good patterns in this area. But for my body, I find that I need to spend a minimum of three hours. I want to invest that much time in working out or just getting more energy. For emotions, I find I'm usually pretty level there, especially with the meditation, which cross-pollinates with the mind hotspot. But for my career, I wanna set a maximum of 50 hours. Because setting a maximum for how much time you'll spend on something creates a deadline in a way. Where instead of writing a report over the course of one-- this is just an everyday example. But if you were to write a report over one day, you might procrastinate a bit. You might find Parkinson's Law comes into play. Your work expands a little bit. But if you give yourself one hour to do that report you might find that you hunkered down because of that artificial deadline. And hotspots can have a similar effect where if you have a hard cutoff at the end of the day for me it's a maximum of 50 hours because I end up working a lot because I love the work that I do. It's like not work at all for me, but I still want that level of balance. Finances, that's pretty level for me. But relationships, the minimum of eight hours. Because I find that half of the time my face is in a book and I need to look up to the people around me and my relationships. Having fun is something that I need to remind myself of, too, and I set a minimum there. And at the end of the week, reflect on these as well as the list. We can identify threats and opportunities in each area. So at the same time that we see this higher level perspective of the work and the life that we live, we can see where, okay, I haven't had a dentist appointment in a while, maybe I should check up on that area. Or my mind feels a bit off, how much have I invested in that hotspot? And we can schedule time at the start of the week for the most important ones. So I have one final activity for you. One final two-minute activity. And it's to simply notice. It's an activity of noticing the health of each of these seven hotspots. And so you'll see in the workbook. And if you're doing this at home, you can just kinda write down the names of them and put the value next to each of them. Mind, body, relationships, career, finances, fun, and what's the other one, emotions. So write the names of each of them. And next to each, simply rank how healthy you feel you are in each out of 10, to simply notice that. And let's get the timer going. So that is the final idea that I wanted to share with you as it relates to managing our time over the course of the day. And so there's the rule of three for working with greater intention. There's working on the right things. Our most important tasks that produce the most value. And letting these two things cross-pollinate with one another, keeping those three important tasks in mind as you set your daily and your weekly intentions so that what you do on a daily and weekly basis feeds into what's important in general. And there's procrastination, which is so funny. That thing is universal. Everybody procrastinates. No matter the audience, no matter the country, no matter the group, no matter the age, the background, whatever, everybody procrastinates because it's simply embedded within us. It's that emotional resistance we have to certain things. And hotspots, a simple idea, but noticing the different areas of your life and where you invest your time, your attention, your energy over is a valuable thing that I personally could not do without, especially the busier you are, the easier it is to simply become embedded in what you're doing without taking that step back. And it's a nice little nudge at the beginning of every week that you need to. So that covers time. Do you guys have any questions? We have one from the online audience, what you guys are thinking. Let's start off with this one. This one comes from Smurfy, who's been watching today. Smurfy! Smurfy says how do you deal with overwhelm when you have a lot to do on your list? They say that when you're trying to learn all these things you mention research a lot, do you ever get overwhelmed with all of the information that you're consuming? Yeah, I think that speaks to the idea behind that system called getting things done where your head is for having ideas, not for holding them. And so the more overwhelmed you feel, that would be the first place that I would check is overwhelm is often a sign that you're lacking clarity in what's important. And so I would check how many things are you holding in your mind that you have to get done or that you're waiting for? This is a simple tactic that I'll talk about later on. No spoilers, this is just a minor spoiler, I promise. But something that helps a ton with overwhelm is creating a waiting for list. So a waiting for list is simply everything you're waiting on at a given time. If you order something from Amazon that's important that you wanna make sure you get, you put it on your waiting for list. If you just sent a big email to your boss' boss and you don't wanna think about it anymore, you put it on the waiting for list, which you schedule time to review a few times a week. And when you review it, it's like seeing the list of hotspots. You think, oh, I haven't heard from that person on that email or I haven't actually received that fidget spinner, whatever it is that you ordered. And it can make sure that those important things don't fall through the cracks. So if you're feeling overwhelmed, it might be that you're waiting on a lot of things at a given time and that you just need to get them out of your head. Another powerful way is sometimes-- the average corporate worker-- and I realize not, maybe not even most people who are watching this work in a corporation, but the average worker in a corporation works on ten projects at one time. So these are ten areas that we're invested in that we're bouncing back and forth in between. And so creating a list of these different projects, I like to create a note for each of these, maybe a file folder might work for you. And essentially that contains all the reference information all the next steps you need to take for these things, all the things you're waiting for with these projects. And that's super helpful for overwhelm too. yeah, go ahead. What's the most ridiculous or unhealthy productivity hack that you've learned through the process of research and test and trial and error? Probably, and I'll share this with you right after the jump is-- this is just so weird what I did. But it was becoming a total slob for a week. So for a full week I think I made sure to order takeout multiple times every day. I didn't care about sleep. I consumed caffeine late into the day. And there's a lot of weird stuff people try. There's a whole subculture-- and I realize there will be a bunch of people that watch this, and so when you get these, it's the law of large numbers or whatever it is, there's probably one or two people that are in this subculture. But there's a whole subculture of people that are into like living like a caveman. And they go so far as to sleep on the floor every day. I tried living like a caveman for a month. So eating a paleolithic diet, not in the paleo like really neat heavy sense that people have today, because historically we didn't eat a ton of meat. But I ate like a caveman. I walked, I think it was five to nine miles every single day because that's how far a caveman moved. I slept on the floor like this weird subculture of people did. But the weird part about those two experiments was I had so little energy while doing the slob experiment, and so little productivity because of that. And energy is like the fuel we use to become productive with. And likewise, the caveman, we evolved to walk five to nine miles every day. We evolved to eat foods that were slow-burning so that they released their energy over an expanded period of time. And we didn't experience these energy crashes and then craters where 2:00 p.m. rolls around and we ate too many tacos at lunch and so we can't get anything done. And so I think there's a lot of lessons to learn in those energy ideas where we need to act in accordance with how we were wired to move and how we're wired to sleep. Don't sleep on the floor, though, that's a bit excessive. (laughing) Beds are nice. This one comes from Sonya. And Sonya wants to know a little bit more about you mentioned all of the different areas that you just went over, the emotions part, that was the one that there was a little confusion about. And I know for me, that one seems a little bit less tangible than the others. Could you give us some examples of the emotion? Yeah, for sure. For me, that hotspot it's a lot of things that affect just how I feel. So like I mentioned the sunshine one. That's one that's in a couple of hotspots, the mind and the emotions. Getting enough sunlight affects my mood. Working out affects my mood. And so there's a lot of overlap between the emotions hotspot and the mind hotspot I think that you'll find. Some people even combine those into one, but I like to segment them out. I have things like taking enough breaks so I can maintain enough reflection in the work that I do to see its importance. It's something that does require some reflection. And really seeing your life from this perspective and making sure that everything falls into a category. Really the categories, the names don't matter. It's really how you think. And this is something, it's kind of a pet peeve of mine as it relates to personal productivity advice. It's personal productivity, it's personal. It should be wired to us. We shouldn't see these ideas as set in stone, these seven hotspots as an example. Maybe we have five, maybe we have 10. Maybe we have a household one, and that's one that I see a lot of people have. Maybe we have a spiritual one. That's another one that I see some people had where we have these areas of our life that we just wanna check up on. And so it's more of an opportunity for reflection.

Class Description

The first 100 eligible purchasers of this class will receive 
The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy
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It’s a common refrain: “If I only I had more hours in the day, I’d be able to get everything done.” But since finding more hours isn’t an option, we search for ways to be more productive—to better use our limited time to not only complete our required tasks but also accomplish our loftier goals.

Chris Bailey, author of “The Productivity Project,” spent a year of his life conducting productivity experiments on himself in order to discover the secrets to living the most productive life possible. He’ll share his most insightful lessons on how to work deliberately rather than reactively, manage your energy better, avoid excessive procrastination and have more time to do what you find meaningful in life.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Slow down and work more deliberately.
  • Shrink or eliminate the unimportant from your life.
  • Focus on your highest-leverage tasks that give you the greatest return.
  • Schedule less time for important tasks.
  • Distract yourself from inevitable distractions.
  • Develop productive procrastination.
  • Use a healthy diet, sleep and exercise to be more productive.
  • Strive for imperfection.
  • Form good habits so your productivity is automatic.
  • Motivate yourself by understanding why you want to get something done.


Michael Duskus

I wasn't sure what to expect from this course, but I was happily surprised to learn very useful, practical approaches to being more productive in all aspects of my life. Chris's approach to dealing with time and productivity challenges we all face daily are simple to comprehend — and with a little discipline, easy to implement. I'm looking forward to reading his book, too. Additionally, the team at Creative Live are so great and make the experience memorable; from their smiles, warm greetings and professionalism to the great food provided, they know how to bring out the good vibes in everyone. We're definitely looking forward to attending more classes!

Helen Leung

I found Chris' book very useful, full of great ideas that are easy to implement, and totally fun to read. This seminar is the same: inspiring, practical, and very enjoyable. The productivity ideas that he introduced are crucial for reducing stress and enjoying our work and personal life more. Highly recommended!


A fantastic class that will NOT teach you how to be more productive in creating to-do-lists and completing as many tasks as you can, but will explain how to make right priorities and choices and how achieve what you want in a more efficient matter while having a holistic view of your productivity, including your approach to food, sleep and meditation. The class is packed with actionable tools and techniques and I recommend it to everyone who would like to start working less and achieve more. The teacher - Chris - has a great personality - he's very likable and relatable - and he delivers the message in a manner that makes it very easy to understand and act upon the message.