Defeating Distraction and Living Powerfully with Chris Bailey: PYP 301

When you're doing a video podcast with the guy who wrote the book on focus and mastering our attention, you don't take lots of notes. Instead, you look at your guest and stay present to the wisdom and insight he's dropping left and right.

Which explains why I don't have a lot of show notes for today's guest, Chris Bailey. Chris and I got on Skype to discuss his latest book, Hyperfocus: How to be More Productive in a World of Distraction

I wanted to get Chris on the show ever since hearing him on my buddy Peter Bregman's leadership podcast. I've discovered, both in my own life and with my clients, that digital distraction is turning into an epidemic and a serious addiction. Turns out the devices and the apps are designed that way, to capture and hold our attention for as long as possible.

There are WellStart Health clients who struggle with bedtimes, with eating, with meditating – all because they're spending way more time than they would like on their smartphones and tablets.

And the quality of my work day depends, to a huge extent, on whether I get up and check my phone, or get up and immediately start meditating, or engage in breathwork, or pour a bucket of ice water over my head. That one split-second decision leads to a virtual spiral or vicious cycle. And repeated daily, that split second can determine the kind of person I am, the kind of influence I wield, and the kind of person I am.

Chris's book, Hyperfocus, is far more useful than a warning or a rant about the evils of technology. Instead, it's an evidence-based deep dive into attention, focus, productivity, happiness, and meaning. And a hands-on user's manual for the human mind.

Two of my big aha insights from Hyperfocus:

  1. Resistance is frontloaded
  2. The human mind has a novelty bias

Chris is also funny and charming, and despite his focus on focus, delightfully distractable by fun and goofy tangents. (To be fair, Hyperfocus doesn't advocate spending all our waking hours in hyperfocus; there's a second mode, which he calls Scatterfocus, which is just as important, and in world, just as elusive. Which is where we spend some time in our conversation.)

Anyway, put your phone on Do Not Disturb, close your browser tabs, fire up your favorite podcast app, and enjoy this conversation with Chris Bailey.

Add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.


Chris Bailey's website: A


The Productivity Project

Chris on the Bregman Leadership Podcast (for Hyperfocus)

Chris on the Bregman Leadership Podcast (for The Productivity Project)

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Sick to Fit, by me and Josh LaJaunie, is now available in paperback. Get a couple (dozen) copies here: Sick to Fit paperback. The Kindle ebook is also available, for free: Sick to Fit Kindle.

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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


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One Response to “Defeating Distraction and Living Powerfully with Chris Bailey: PYP 301”

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  1. Tracie says:

    I love the idea of the different levels of consequence. I am already using this concept in how I think about choices and deciding whether to make them. I especially like that it gets rid of black and white thinking. I can acknowledge, for example, that a Lara bar tastes good and then move on to think about the additional consequences. Thanks Howard and Chris! Can’t wait to actually read the book now!!

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