Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less

Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less

by Michael Hyatt

Most of us define productivity as getting things done faster. We try to act quickly, hoping to save time for ourselves, our family, and our passions. However, productivity is not about saving time. Rather, it's about using time wisely.

Free to Focus will change your perspective on productivity. This book contains proven strategies to help you redefine your goals, evaluate your system, and eliminate the non-essentials to focus on what truly matters. This will also help you manage your time and energy effectively, which is essential for success. Additionally, you will learn how to achieve more by doing less. 

Summary Notes

Stop To Redefine Your Productivity Goals

“Unless you first know why you’re working, you can’t properly evaluate how you’re working.”

Many people think that productivity is about speed and quantity. They try to act faster to accomplish more things at a time. When they fail to do so, they feel dejected and unproductive. This shows that there is something wrong with their productivity system. 

Productivity is not about getting more things done. Rather, it’s about getting the right things done. It should free you to pursue the things that most matter to you. To achieve this, you need to give yourself time and space to stop first.  Ask yourself what productivity means to you and reflect on its purpose. Through this, you will evaluate your progress and success.

The first step is to formulate your vision and redefine your productivity goals.  This is important if you want to know what you need to improve and change to attain your vision.

The second step is to evaluate your current situation. This includes separating high-leverage tasks from low-leverage activities. By taking a realistic look at where you are right now, you’ll be able to achieve progress towards your goals. 

A special tool to assess your current situation is the Freedom Compass. This compass will serve as the productivity guide that will keep you on track. It will help you evaluate your tasks, opportunities, and activities based on passion and proficiency. Through this, you will have a new outlook on productivity. You will learn that delivering high-quality work and performance requires both passion and proficiency. 

Aside from formulating your vision and evaluating your situation, you’ll also learn the value of rejuvenation. This is an important step to boost results. By including time for rest in your priorities, you will regain your energy which is vital in improving every aspect of your life, including productivity.

Actions to take

Cut the Nonessentials

“Even if we hate saying no, we must understand that every yes inherently contains a no.”

At some point in our lives, we all have experienced juggling multiple tasks in a limited time. Often, we find ourselves packed with schedules we struggle to handle. However, if we take the time to evaluate these activities, we will realize that not everything is essential. We just do them because we keep saying yes without weighing their importance to us. As a result, we feel overwhelmed, unable to add anything anymore without removing something else. 

Such situations will push us to make choices. Whether we like it or not, we need to let go of the tasks or activities that don’t serve our greater purpose. This will allow us to focus only on what matters most to us, which is the key to achieving a more productive life. 

To do this, we need to understand the power of elimination, automation, and delegation. These are three of the most efficient ways of cutting the nonessentials out.

In the elimination process, the use of Not-To-Do Lists is an essential practice. This list contains the meetings, activities, tasks, and relationships you should avoid. This is because it doesn’t bring much value to you. Having this kind of list will serve as your reminder for the tasks you need to eliminate immediately. 

Next on the list is automation, which is a powerful productivity tool. However, there is no way you could automate your life instantly. It will cost you time at first, as it involves designing a system you can use. This can be done by building your four foundational rituals: the morning, evening, workday start-up, and workday shutdown ritual. 

Then, you will need to find ways to automate every part of your work effectively. One example of this is creating a workflow optimizer that automates the process of your work. This is also beneficial if you want others to do the work for you, which brings us to delegation.

Delegation is about outsourcing your remaining tasks. For most people, this is a difficult thing to do as they fear that others might not meet their expectations.  One helpful way to avoid this is to create a document containing all the project's necessary information, including how you envision it being done. This way, the assigned person will know exactly what work to produce.

If done properly, these practices can help you save lots of time that you can use in other important areas of your life. By spending your time with the things and people that matter to you, you will attain the freedom that will allow you to live life the way you wanted it to be.

Actions to take

Act to Beat Distractions and Interruptions

“Starting is half the battle, so identify the next steps that will give you a quick sense of momentum. The other half of the battle is staying focused. Interruptions and distractions can sabotage even your best efforts.”

Living in the digital world surely has made things easier for us. However, it also gave rise to countless interruptions and distractions that keep us from fully focusing on work. With this, it is important to know how to maximize our focus only on what’s essential. Then, learn how to accomplish them in a lesser amount of time and stress. Through this, we will have a more productive week which is ideal for most of us. 

In attaining that ideal week, we need to learn how to structure it properly. Part of structuring our ideal week is consolidating similar tasks and doing them on a particular day. It means sorting out the tasks into categories. These categories include the Frontstage, Backstage, and Offstage activities. Here is a brief definition of each of them: 

  • Frontstage refers to work-related calling. It is about doing the task/s for which your boss or customers are paying you.
  • Backstage refers to planning and organizing tasks. This is where automation, delegation, elimination, preparation, maintenance, and development belong. All of these are done so you can perform best in the Frontstage or in work.
  • Offstage refers to the time when you’re off to work. This happens when you spend your time focusing on friends, family, relaxation, and rejuvenation. This is important in restoring your energy so you can perform your best when it comes to work.

Doing similar tasks in a day will help you to be less distracted by other recurring tasks. This will lead you to finish more high-quality work. You’ll also be able to accomplish goals that seem to be out of your reach. 

After structuring your ideal week and working on your tasks by category, set aside time in the following week to evaluate your progress. This will help you understand what to change and improve on to stay productive.

Aside from this, knowing what tasks to prioritize is also a helpful way to advance to your goals. This can be done by choosing only the three most important tasks you need to accomplish for a day. This way, you would know where to put your full focus on to move forward with your major goals. 

Once you are clear with your ideal week and the tasks you need to prioritize, it’s time to activate and beat interruptions. This is difficult for most as we are bombarded with unlimited distractions both by technology and the environment. However, there is a tool that you can use to eliminate these distractions to focus on work fully. This tool is called a Focus Defense Sheet that contains the activation triggers to combat interruptions. If executed properly, this can help us focus on work despite limitless interruptions. Thus, helping us attain the freedom of having more time and achieving more by doing less.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning