The Productive Life

Lesson 9/17 - Working Around Your Energy


The Productive Life


Lesson Info

Working Around Your Energy

Working around how much energy we have. It's about surfing those waves and allowing them to become a tailwind when we need them to be. Now, another one of the experiments that I conducted it was a bit less sexy than the other ones. But it was to track how much energy I had. To measure these natural fluctuations in my energy levels. And so, you know I tracked how much energy I had for an entire three weeks. And I cut out all caffeine. I cut out all alcohol. I cut out sugar, I ate as little of it as I possibly could. I can't say that I ate zero because there's sugar in like catsup and condiments and things like that. I ate small frequent meals for fuel. And I had no wake up alarm whatsoever. I woke up and I fell asleep naturally. And at the end of it I plotted how much energy I had every single hour for those three weeks. And here's what I found. I found that my energy rose and fell in relatively consistent patterns. And that there were some peaks that I had more energy consistently than...

others. Right here, is one example and over here is another example. These are times when I was more productive than in other hours of the day. These are times when I got more accomplished. And I've come to endearingly call these times of day. I borrow this term from a man named Sam Carpenter. I call these times our biological prime time. They're when we're wired for greater productivity. And the more important tasks that we schedule during this time. The three most important tasks in your work. The three daily intentions that you set that's more important than everything else. These should be done when we have the most energy. When we sync them up, we're so much more productive. And so, tasks that require more energy we can schedule here while accounting for the constraints in our day. So for me this why I love doing interviews and talks and important meetings because I know that I'm more likely to do a better job of them during these periods of the day. But what about, what about like these times of the day when our energy dips? Oddly enough, these periods are just as valuable. Believe it or not because when we have the least amount of energy our mind is the least inhibited with the idea that it generates. And because of this fact when we have less energy we're more creative. Right? We're able to connect and generate and process more ideas at one time. Our mind wanders to some marvelous places during these times simply because it's less inhibited and less likely to hyper focus in one one thing. This is when we can recharge. Take on less important tasks. Also, if we don't have creative work to do but like come on that's CreativeLive. So this is what I like to call our creative primetime. Cause this is when we should schedule this time. If that happens to fall in the morning sometimes one of the most productive things you can do is delay drinking that cup of coffee until a couple hours after your into work. To brainstorm during that time. To come up with your intentions so that they can be more creative and productive. You know, delay having that extra amount of energy. So, what I want to do with you guys here and for the folks watching online is to calculate your biological prime time. I came across research well after the project that made me realize wait, I didn't have to track how much energy I have every hour on the hour? I could just do like this simple calculation to figure this out? And it turns out you can. And I'll run you through doing that now. And, I would encourage folks who are online to follow along. You might just need a notepad or something like that. So, the first is to think about a day off, like the weekend. So bring a day to mind and on that day, how long do you sleep for ideally? And so, for an example, yeah, it's a pretty simple calculation. I sleep for eight hours if I'm sleeping naturally. So write that number down and now divide that number by two cause some complex math. Might need to break out the calculator. But, then ask yourself, you know, what time do you go to bed on that free day? You know if I have a free day I go to bed at around 11:30. But then you add the four hours and then you get a calculation. So think about a day off like the weekend, how long do you sleep for ideally? Divide that number by two and take the time you go to bed on that free day and add that duration. Does everybody have a number? I'm the worst at math. I was so paranoid, I'm so bad at math, I was so paranoid about making a mistake on this slide so I checked this slide more than like any other slide in the deck. By the way on the instructions for doing this are also in the workbook, so if you need to refer back to it later you can. But, if you take that time this is your midpoint of sleep. It's your natural midpoint cause you take a day that you fall asleep naturally, wake up naturally. This is the midpoint of sleep. Then what you do, is you map that point. We can throw this slide up on the screen full screen, is you map it on this chart. If it falls before 3:30 in the morning, You're an early bird and so you love rising early. You're one of these people that springs out of bed because the clock just struck 5: and the sun hasn't risen yet. Who gets up after the sun rises? The most people around 2/ of the people if you'll look at this graph it's a bell curve fall into this middle portion. Where you know they're not an early bird. They're not a night owl. They're somewhere in between. Most people fall into this time of the day. And then you get the night owls. Where you know, these people have the most energy late at night. I recently ran this calculation and figured you know I'm somewhere in between. Where I used to think that I was more of a night owl. And this is a fascinating idea because this will show you when you have your peak energy periods of the day. You should screen shot this if you're watching it from home. Especially this next slide here. So, this chart will show you when you have these peak energy times of the day. And so if you're one of these early birds your biological primetime is the early morning. Right, this is the time that you should work on your most important tasks that require and benefit from this focus. But your creative primetime will be late in the afternoon or the early evening. If you fall in the middle, which most people do around 2/3 of people, your biological prime time is likely early to mid morning. This is when you should schedule your most important tasks and if you have the flexibility block out this time on your calendar so nobody books you during that time. You know, so you can hunker down on what's actually important on a daily basis. But if you're doing creative work maybe do like the early evening, the late afternoon. Maybe the first thing in the morning after you have a cup of coffee. If you're a night owl, these people who work late into the night your biological prime time likely falls late afternoon and evening and your creative time is in the morning. So we can take advantage of these waves, right? Our energy fluctuates and so our productivity does too.

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.