The Productive Life

Lesson 16/17 - Internal Distractions


The Productive Life


Lesson Info

Internal Distractions

The final idea that I have for you is about taming the noise in your mind. I know we had a question about feeling overwhelmed and that kind of fits in with this idea also. These internal (giggling) distractions. Our mind is a powerful thing and we don't just become interrupted by our external environment, we also become interrupted by the unresolved things in our mind. This is because of an effect called the Zeigarnik effect. It was coined by a lady named Bluma Zeigarnik many, many years ago. She found that incomplete things weigh on our mind infinitely more than the completed tasks. The closet that we still need to clean weighs on our mind 10 times as heavy as the one that we have cleaned. We've long forgotten about that and part of this is because our brain is wired to perceive threats in our environment. We keep the unresolved things front-of-mind. This is also why we come up with so many beautiful, insightful problems when we let our mind wander is because these unresolved things a...

re fresh-of-mind, we're able to connect cues in our environment to it and ideas from the past and the present. But it's kinda harmful when we're trying to work and we're coming up with all this stuff. This is why David Allen, Allen's system works so well is because our head is for holding ideas, not for having them. I touch on this a little bit from the question that came in where taming internal distractions is just as important as taming external ones, right? This is why we keep a (giggling) calendar. I think the calendar is the reason a lot of us showed up today, but you know it is for me at least 'cause I had to be here at seven. By keeping a calendar in an app, we don't have to keep the calendar in our mind and devote attentional space to where we have to be in any moment of the day. A to-do list is something that-- Do you guys keep a to-do list in some fashion? Yeah, the more things you externalize that you have to get done, the more mind space you have for ideas and for connecting information instead of remembering that you have to buy cantaloupe on your way back home. A friend of mine keeps a My Word list, so whenever he makes a promise to someone, he really values his word. He wants to be a man of his word, and so he keeps a My Word list and whenever he makes a promise, he puts it on there. A Waiting For list. I touched on that a little bit. We have so many unresolved things that we can do nothing about that we're just waiting on somebody for. Where it would be nice if we could kinda a prod to follow up on somebody because they didn't send us the email that we've been waiting on. Keeping this list and reviewing it regularly is remarkably powerful, same with keeping project notes. Something I've touched on already, where in your note app of choice, I personally use Simple Note because it's available for every platform under the sun. I've used it for years and you can't even bold text in it, but it let's you get ideas out of your mind and into this system, as well as just the notes app that's built into my phone. It's powerful, it let's you externalize these ideas and separate things out by projects. The final idea, if you worry a lot, (giggling) is to keep a Worry list. I know there have been a few times in my work and in my life when I've had a lot of concerns on my mind that were just getting in the way of things. So, I made a list of them all and externalized them into that and I scheduled time to ruminate on those things, and when I wanted to during the day, it was a reminder that, no, wait, I have time scheduled for that.

Class Description

The first 100 eligible purchasers of this class will receive 
The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy
Limit one Offer per person. Additional exclusions may apply - visit for full details.

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.