the gap between intention and action

Chris Bailey, photographed in front of Equator Coffee, Westboro.

At loveOttawa we get to meet such fascinating individuals. It’s always a pleasure to run into young people that are making a change. This is the case of author/speaker Chris Bailey.

Chris’ soon to be released book, ‘The Productivity Project‘, is the result of a yearlong task of time management experiments that he began to conduct on himself after graduating from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business. As he shared his thoughts and findings on a blog he called ‘A Year of Productivity’, Chris soon began to have a strong social media following. His hard work and determination has led to the culmination of a dream for this 26-year-old. ‘The Productivity Project’ will be published by Penguin Random House and launched internationally on January 5th.

We met up with a very busy and enthusiastic Chris a few days back. Although not originally from our city, he has made Ottawa his home! We were truly inspired by his determined, positive nature, brilliant ideas and, above all, his genuine and humble ways.

© dwayne brown studio  – the  loveOttawa  project

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

What inspired you to embark on The Productivity Project?  

“Productivity is an idea I’ve been obsessed with for the last decade – not productivity in the cold, corporate sense, but in the sense of getting the most out of how little time we have every day. Who wouldn’t want more of that?

The Productivity Project book is the crescendo for a yearlong project I embarked on after graduating.  I graduated with a couple of full-time job offers but I figured that if there was a time I should explore something I was so deeply passionate about, it was then! So I took a year to conduct productivity experiments on myself, interview the most interesting productivity experts from around the world, and read as many books and papers as I could on the topic.”

You are on the cusp of launching a book that will reach a huge audience on a topic, productivity, that affects everyone in the working world. How have you been able to accomplish so much in so little time, at such a young age?

“I think the answer is pretty simple, and maybe not surprising: I’ve invested in my productivity quite a bit over the last decade, which has let me get more done every day. Of course, like everyone else on the planet I’m not ultra-productive every single day, but most days I achieve what I intend to, because that’s a skill I’ve developed over the long haul. My daily productivity has, over time, compounded to let me accomplish more. I do things like step back frequently to think about what I want to get done every day and week, shut off distractions quite often, spend a lot of my working day disconnected from the internet, and invest in my energy levels, like by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep.

Lest I sound conceited, some of it is definitely luck, and being in the right place at the right time, but productivity let me take advantage of the opportunities that have come my way!”

In your experiments you refer to a gap between ‘intention and action’. What exactly do you mean by this?

“This is an idea I’ve always been fascinated by. Every human on the planet intends to do stuff – like slim down, pick up a book instead of firing up Netflix, eat better, and get more done every day. But I don’t know of a single person, including myself, who acts on everything they intend to do – most people have a big gap between what they intend (or want) to do, and what they actually do. This is another reason productivity piques my curiosity: over time, I’ve come to see it as a way of bridging that gap. To me, intention is one of the most fascinating ideas out there. It’s what makes us human.”

What would you say to a young Ottawan who is starting a career?

“I’d suggest not planning too far ahead. If you know exactly where you’ll be in five years, your work probably isn’t interesting enough. I’m not suggesting that you don’t plan – I personally keep an 18-month plan—which is long enough for me to think about where I want to go in my career, but short enough so that I’m not blinded to any opportunities, or trying to predict what the world will be like five years out.

I’d also, of course, suggest investing in your productivity. This is cliche advice coming from someone who experiments with the topic for a living, but I really think productivity either makes or breaks how much you get done every day, and how successful you are in general.”

What do you most love about our city and why have you chosen it to make it your home? What are some of your favourite spots around town?

“I love how, even though we have a pretty big population, Ottawa doesn’t feel like a typical large city – it feels like a bunch of small towns that happen to be adjacent to each other. I live in Westboro, but always feel like I’m stepping into a totally different city whenever I visit friends, or travel around!

My favourite spots around town include the National Gallery, The Tea Store (the most underrated place in the market), Equator Coffee (in Westboro), and Planet Coffee (also in the market). There are so many cool places in this city!”

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your ideas and being an example of intention put into action! The passion that led to your productivity project will, without a doubt, impact and inspire many people.

If you wish to follow or get more information about Chris’ book, please take a look at his website:  and/or twitter at: @ALOProductivity