Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters will help you slow your crazy lifestyle of staying extremely busy all day. Choose what you want to focus on, build the energy to do it and break your default cycle so that you can start being more intentional in the way you live your life. This book will help bring clarity and calmness to your everyday life. 

Summary Notes

Making time for the things that matter to you

“With new habits and a new mindset, you can stop reacting to the modern world and start actively making time for the people and activities that matter to you”.

Nowadays, it is easy to stay constantly busy, stressed and distracted.  This is because of two powerful forces that compete for every minute of your time: the Busy Bandwagon mindset and Infinity Pools. 

The Busy Bandwagon mindset makes you feel like you must fulfill every minute of your time with productivity if you want to meet the demands of the modern-day workplace. Infinity Pools then refer to all the apps and other sources that endlessly replenish addictive content to keep you hooked to your gadgets.

You will tend to default to certain habits and behaviors in your personal and professional lives. Your mind has probably been programmed to always be responsive, be efficient and get more work done.

But then what about you? What do you want from your days and your life? You need to override these defaults of the Busy Bandwagon and the Infinity Pools so you can take control of your time. Your goal should be to choose the people and things to focus on, build the energy to do it, and break the cycles you default to.

Being productive means you are doing something valuable - this doesn't always translate to you doing the most important things. It’s time to develop a new mindset coupled with new habits that will help you stop reacting to the modern world. Instead, start making time for the people and things that make you feel accomplished.

To make time for the things that matter, there are four things you can do daily:

  1. Choose a single highlight to prioritize in your day. It’s easier and more convenient to handle a single highlight efficiently as opposed to trying to handle several.

  2. Stay laser-focused on that highlight. You can only perform your highlight well if you distance yourself from distractions and stay focused on the work at hand.

  3. Build energy to stay in control of your time and attention. You will end up losing focus and not getting your highlight done if you are unable to manage your time and attention.

  4. Reflect on the day to determine if your highlight was well done and if you felt accomplished.

Actions to take

Deciding the best time to perform your daily highlights

“If you can’t make time for your highlight in the middle of the day, you might try creating some space in the early morning or late evening”.

You are genetically disposed to either be a morning or a night person. Knowing where you belong will help you perform your daily highlights effectively. The truth is that some people will have more success working in the mornings while others are more efficient working at night when most people are sleeping.

Self-discipline is important for both morning and night people. You, therefore, need to develop the habits that will help you work efficiently at your preferred time. For example, if you discover that you are more productive in the early hours of the morning, you should be able to discipline yourself to go to bed early in the night, so you can wake up early in the morning and perform your daily highlight.

On the other hand, if you are a night person, you will need to have some rest during the day, so you can efficiently handle your daily highlight at night. 

That said, you can switch from being a night person to a morning person or vice versa as long as you cultivate the right habits. Your larger goal should be to accomplish your highlight for the day - to look back on the day with a sense of joy, accomplishment, or satisfaction (or all three), irrespective of the period of the day you invested in your highlight.

Actions to take

Staying laser-focused on your highlight

“When you are laser-focused on your highlight, it feels fantastic - it’s the payoff for proactively choosing what’s important to you”.

It’s one thing to choose your highlight and it's another thing to accomplish it. This is why you need to focus to get in the flow - fully engaged and immersed in doing your highlight. 

It's easy to get distracted with Infinity Pools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even G-mail. Not even your willpower is enough to overcome the distractions of these infinity pools as technology products are ever-evolving with exciting newer versions and features. 

However, you can redesign the way you use tech products to regain control of your time. For example, you could set up your mobile phone in a distraction-free mode by deleting all the addictive apps. You could also rearrange your living room furniture to make watching TV less convenient for you. After all, the best way to defeat distraction is to make it harder to react.

You may feel tempted to stay connected to your Infinity Pools due to the fear of missing out. You may want to be familiar with the latest HBO series and the coolest features of the brand new iPhone so that you won’t be left behind. 

However, it's possible to ignore these and focus on what matters to you without the fear of losing friends and acquaintances. Once you change your priorities, your friends will notice and make adjustments accordingly.

Actions to take

Building your energy to stay in control of your time.

“If you have energy, it's easier to maintain your focus and priorities and avoid reacting to distractions and demands”.

Choosing what to focus on, adjusting your calendar, and blocking out distractions will enable you to get into a laser-focused mode to perform your highlights. But that’s not all - you need to figure out ways to increase your energy so that you can easily turn moments that might otherwise be lost to mental and physical fatigue into usable time for your highlights.

Most times, you easily get distracted by social media when you allow yourself to become too exhausted. This is likely to result in frustration, not just because you are tired, but also because you are annoyed at yourself for wasting time.

You need to regain the energy which is much needed to maintain a high-performing brain. You need to be intentional about taking care of your body by eating right, exercising regularly, resting well and getting off the grid momentarily. When you are fully energized, you will have the power to be present, to think clearly, and to spend time on what truly matters. 

With full energy, your body will feel alert and alive, thereby making you ready and excited to take on any new project.

Actions to take

Reflecting on how well you accomplished your highlight.

“Every day, you’ll reflect on whether you made time for your highlight and how well you were able to focus on it.”

We have already established the fact that to do the things that matter to you, you should be able to override the busy bandwagon and infinity pools defaults by setting a daily highlight, laser-focusing on it, and maintaining your energy level to perform the highlight.

But then, how can you tell you are following these steps and accomplishing your highlights? The answer lies in reflecting. At the end of each day, you should be able to reflect on whether you made time for your highlight and how well you were able to focus on it. 

Review the tactics you used - jot down your observations of what worked and what didn't, and then make a plan for which tactic you will try tomorrow. For example, if your highlight today was to cook dinner for your family and you didn't achieve success with the distraction-free phone technique because you kept checking your email, you could decide to try leaving your phone in the living room the next time you plan to cook dinner for your family.

After a few days of reflecting and taking notes, you will become more aware of your energy and attention throughout the day or more in control of where to direct it. That said, you must realize that some tactics may work out right away, while some will require patience and perseverance.

Actions to take

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