Authors: Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
The book introduces very simple , yet effective techniques to take hold of your time . There is no size fits all so you would have to find the ones that match your lifestyle and schedule but indeed i can see great improvements to how i manage my time after applying a couple of them.
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🚀 The Book in 4 Sentences
- Start everyday with a high priority achievable goal , this creates clarity and motivation. Ask yourself when you finish your day how do you want to response to the questions “What have you achieved today?”
- Ban/regulate devices to avoid distractions of never ending notifications and stay laser focused on your highlight
- Maintain your energy : constant breaks , short walks , sleep , a healthy diet and face-to-face interactions.
- Experiment to try different approaches and techniques and reflect on what worked and what didn’t
The book has many great techniques revolving around having a highlight per day and focusing on getting it done . A lot of the techniques are very good to increase productivity and time management taking into consideration your wellbeing.
How I Discovered It
Who Should Read It?
Busy people who need to take control of their time “so practically …. everyone 😄”
✍️ My Top Quotes
- Focus on spending time on what matters the most to you and not reacting to other people’s priorities.
- Perfection is a distraction , it’s the shinny object that takes your attention away from your priorities.
- The best tactics are the ones that fit into your day where you don’t force yourself to do.
- Doing what matters is not doing more things
- What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.
📒 Summary + Notes
The book main idea is to not save time but to make time, by choosing what you want/need to focus on , build the energy to do it and break the default cycle to become more intentional on how you live your life even if you don’t fully control your schedule.
✌️The 2 main forces fighting for your time :
The books talks about 2 main forces :
The busy Bandwagon mindset : If you slow down you will fall behind , everyone else is busy and so should you. You need to have your calendar stacked up and your inbox has hundreds of unread mails . In this mindset you basically react to whatever comes your way.
Infinity Pools : Social media , notifications , devices ,…etc. which are always new and always available entertainment with never ending content . You always feel you would miss out and be left behind if you missed the last episode or the latest iPhone launch ,…etc. so you need to catch up on everything all of the time.
Both forces are now our defaults which becomes very hard to change since everyone else around us is doing it. As an example , when you get a new phone it has a default browser and mail application , of course you can change them but it will take some time and effort to do so , so you most probably stay with them as it’s easier to keep the defaults.
In our default setup , once you are able to escape the busy bandwagon , infinity pools are there waiting for you with unlimited distractions.
Relying on will power is not enough to fight both forces , also increasing productivity alone is not the answer as you always get more work to do . “Running faster on the hamster wheel , only makes it go faster”. How we perceive productivity by default that it isn’t doing the most important work but in fact it’s reacting to others’ priorities faster.
The make time framework : Choose a highlight for your day , stay laser focused on it , reflect at the end of the day how you did (what worked , what didn’t ?) and during the whole process make sure you build the right energy for your mind and body.
1. Highlight ⭐
The idea is to choose one priority you want to complete for the day , it can be anything inside/outside work and it can have multiple steps/tasks . Although it will not be the only thing you do all day , but it will be your top priority. You only waste time if you are not intentional about it.
Your criteria for choosing your highlight should be the following:
- Urgency : Things that are urgent
- Satisfaction : Things that bring you a sense of achievement
- Joy : Things that make you happy.
You can change your highlight during the day . 60-90 minutes is a sweet spot to do something meaningful.
Tactics to choose your highlight
- Write it down : use your to-do list , sticky notes or put an all-day calendar event ,…etc.
- Stack up small tasks : when having a lot of small tasks , you can once in a while make a batch of them your highlight (Example: Catch-up on emails , return calls ,….etc.)
The problem with to-do lists is that they mix important things with less important ones and give you the satisfaction of knocking off small tasks instead of focusing on more important ones that might take more time to complete.
One way to re-think todo lists is to make a “Might-do” lists
- Personal sprints : a highlight can be divided into small tasks/steps/highlights on multiple consecutive days.
- Schedule your highlight : block time on your calendar each day for the highlight . This forces you to think how to organize time around your highlight.
- Block your calendar : put “Don’t book” slots in your calendar to make room for your highlight.
- Bulldoze your calendar : shorten meetings , move them around , cram everything in 2 or more days to create more time for your highlight.
- Say no : don’t default to yes . Be nice but honest. Example: “Sorry , I don’t have the time to do a great job on this”.
- Plan your day : plan it to every detail (lunch , shower , break , coffee,…etc.). This allows you to not think about what to do next , instead focus on how to do it when it’s time comes.
- Quit when you are done : have a cut-off time , don’t do the “just one more thing”.
2. Laser 📌
When you are distracted by a notification , it has a cost on your focus as your brain changes context for example from reading to answering a text , there’s a switching cost where your brain has to load a different set of rules and information in your working memory to deal with this text and vice versa.
Tactics to stay laser focused :
- Distraction-free-phone : remove social media apps and turn off work apps after work.
- Turn-off notifications : notifications are constant distractions , turning them off will help you stay focused (turn off outlook , teams notifications)
- Skip the morning mail/notifications check-in : try at least to delay this until a couple of hours during the day
- Wellbeing tools : try using those tools to limit your time with distracting apps.
- Put your toys away : “Reacting to what’s in-front of you is easier than doing what you intend to do” , sign-out of apps to make it harder on yourself to use and be intentional on what you need them for , clean-up after you finish work by closing open tabs in the browser , email and chatting applications.
- Avoid fake wins : quickly checking email , replying to a tweet or posting an update on social media. Drop those fake wins that waste time you need to spend on your highlight.
- Turn distractions into tools : Ask yourself why are you using it and be intentional . Example : I use Facebook to connect with friends , why not just call them?
- Check your mail at the end of the day : spend your prime hours on your highlight and at the end of day when you get to checking your email , you will be less tempted to overcommit or say yes to every incoming request. Try also to schedule this time in your calendar.
- Empty your inbox : try to do this once a week
- Be slow to respond : Anyone can contact you in the digital world we are living in , they usually have questions about their priorities not yours , and they usually ask them when it’s convenient for them not for you. When you always respond promptly it’s as if you are putting everyone’s else priorities ahead of yours.
- Set expectations : “I’m slow to respond as I need to prioritize some important work , but if your message is urgent please text me”
- Make the TV a “Sometimes treat : canceling subscriptions where you go from “Let’s see what’s on” to “do I really want to watch something?”
- Invent deadlines : even if your highlight doesn’t have deadlines , invent your own.
- Avoid fancy productivity tools : the simple tools that don’t require much thinking to use are the best to use.
- Start on paper : it’s faster , easier than techy stuff “you don’t need to worry about selecting a font or search the web”.
- Make a list of itching questions : when you are in laser mode , whenever you get an itching question (important or trivial) write it down so you can check it later . “What will happen to my phone if i through it from the 3rd floor?” 😆
3. Energize 🏃♂️
When your energy is depleted , that’s when you turn to infinity pools . Having good energy gives you the will to take on any project and dive right into your highlight. Your body and brain are connected , if your body is tired your brain will not function to it’s full potential.
“Put your oxygen mask first” you need to take care of yourself so you are able to take care of others
Tactics to stay energized:
- Keep moving : a 20-30 minutes walk a day specially in the morning can help reduce stress and improve your mood for work. Try to exercise everyday , even if it’s 10-20 minutes (the 7-minutes workout app)
- Eat real food : you probably know what you should stop eating , so drop those kinds of food from your diet 🍔
- Go off the grid : in this age it’s very difficult to be not reachable online , you have to take a break without screens , if you go for a walk/run don’t take your phone if it’s possible. If you are taking a break to eat or just relax , put your phone in another room , avoid the temptation to check your mail .
- Make it personal : if you want to chat with a friend , you will most probably use any of the messaging apps on your device . Try to make those conversations in person , or over the phone with people who charge your energy
- Take off-screen breaks
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