6 wacky productivity experiments I’m conducting over the next year

by | May 7, 2013 | Productivity Experiments

The Takeaway: In addition to regular posts and interviews, I’m conducting 6 cool productivity experiments over the next year and sharing what I learn on this site.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 56s. (But it’s skimmable.)


My goal isn’t only to write about productivity over the next year – it’s to live it. So I’m not just going to post quick hacks that I’ve found useful, I’m going to dive right into productivity and use myself as a guinea pig to see what works and what doesn’t. That includes running experiments on myself to see where I succeed and fail, and then sharing what I learn with you.

Below are six of those experiments. Over the year, in addition to conducting interviews and writing what I discover about productivity, I’m going to live each one of these experiments and will let you know exactly what I learn from them. I expect to stumble and learn a lot. It’s going to be exciting to watch.


1. Wake up at 5:30 every morning

Every week day for the duration of the project I will wake up at 5:30 or earlier.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:30am for the first time. At 5:40 my girlfriend and I worked out with Ab Ripper X, and then I downed a protein smoothie, two hard-boiled eggs, and hopped into the shower. Then I crashed. My mind was foggy, I felt low in energy, and I barely made it to 8am without taking a nap because I felt too groggy to read, write, or make anything worthwhile for this site. I felt like shit.

After a longish nap the rest of my day went by without a hitch, but I’m happy I struggled in the morning. If I was able to simply flip a switch and wake up at 5:30 I probably wouldn’t have much to write about for the year. You’ll be hearing about all I learn in case you’re looking for the discipline to wake up earlier also.

2. Reduce my body fat percentage to 10% (from 17%), and gain 10 pounds of lean muscle mass

I don’t want to become a body builder by any means, but another experiment I’ll be running will be to gain 10 pounds of lean muscle mass and reduce my body fat percentage from 17% to under 10%. I’ll be keeping an eye on how my energy, mood, and ability to focus change along with my body composition.

You may have noticed that I track my body composition daily on the stats page. You can expect more detailed body composition stats once this experiment really takes off in early-June (when I will be living right next door to a gym).

3. Be a recluse for 10 days

For ten days (June 25-July 4) I’m going to live in reclusion without socializing or speaking to anyone.

I’ll lock myself in one room for an entire 10 days and cut myself off from the outside world to see how social interaction contributes to productivity, among other things. I’ll only come out to use the bathroom and stock up on food.


4. Only turn on my smartphone for an hour/day (for three months)

A smartphone can be a major time suck, especially if your name is Chris Bailey. Every day I bounce between Twitter, Instagram, email, Vine, Google +, and I even feel my hand instinctively heading toward my pocket whenever I see something that’s even just a little worthy of a picture. An hour of having your smartphone on might seem like a lot of time to you, but to me it’s nothing. I’m practically addicted to the thing.

Beginning today (May 7th), and ending three months from today (August 7th), I will only turn my smartphone on for one hour every day. This might legitimately be the most difficult item on the list.

5. Meditate for 1 hour/day

Frequent meditation has been proven to provide countless benefits, and I have experienced many of them myself. So far this year I’ve meditated for an average of about 25 minutes per day, and I want to crank that up a notch.

Since I started meditating I’ve become calmer, better focused, and in general, happier. And I think that over time I’ve almost become desensitized to meditation’s benefits because they’ve become the new “normal” for me. That’s why I want to take it up a notch for the year and sit for an hour on average every day.

6. Write 150,000 words

150,000 words is a lot of words, and I’m going to write as many valuable words I can over the duration of this project. I am shooting for 150,000 of them – a high goal, but one that’s definitely within my reach.

For this total, I am counting the words that end up as posts on this site, as well as the emails I send that are directly related to the project.


For updates and a complete listing of articles related to each experiment, head on over to the Experiments page! The page is also linked to in the top website header, right under the logo!

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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