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Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

The overflowing inboxes, packed calendars, and endless to-do lists are the reality of this century. Modern society tells us we must fill every minute with productivity. But is this necessary? Is it truly rewarding, or are we just stuck on autopilot?

In their influential book, "Make Time," authors Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky explain how small changes in the design of our days can create more time for what truly matters. We can reclaim our time by focusing on priorities, experimenting with new approaches, and mastering our creative skills. Packed with practical tips, this book offers everyone at least one actionable strategy to implement daily, transforming how we make time for the better.

These are my book insights into "Make Time". My notes are informal and contain quotes from the book. Each book summary has a short description, top lessons from the book, a beyond-the-book section, and favorite quotes. Enjoy!

10 Key Learnings from "Make Time"

  1. Identify Your Highlight: Begin each day by choosing one main highlight. This could be something urgent, a task that brings you satisfaction, or an activity that brings you joy. Write it down in the morning. The highlight should be an activity lasting 30 to 90 minutes and can be repetitive.

  2. Create Barriers to Distraction: Implement small obstacles to prevent easy access to distractions like social media or TV. This helps shift from being distracted to focused, reactive to intentional, and overwhelmed to in control.

  3. Skip the Morning Check-in: Delay your morning check-in to preserve your sense of calm and make it easier to get into a focused mode. Sign out of distracting apps like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to stay proactive.

  4. Use a Vacation Timer: Set a "vacation timer" for daily periods, such as from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, to limit your engagement with work-related or distracting activities.

  5. Trade Fake Wins for Real Wins: Identify and eliminate activities that feel productive but actually lead to procrastination. Determine why you use certain apps, how much time you want to spend on them, and use them intentionally.

  6. Rearrange Your Environment: Make distracting devices less accessible. For example, move the TV from the center of the living room or make devices harder to reach. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and create special moments for worthwhile content.

  7. Invent Deadlines: Create self-imposed deadlines to boost energy, direction, and motivation. This helps shift focus to manageable, tangible tasks.

  8. Use Music as a Cue: Play a specific soundtrack to cue yourself into a focused state for particular tasks. For instance, start your workout with your favorite beats.

  9. Make a Random Question List: Instead of reacting immediately to distractions, write down your questions or thoughts on a piece of paper. This helps you stay focused, knowing you can address them later.

  10. Go All In: Choose exciting ways to spend your time and stay fully engaged. If struggling to focus, switch tools, like using pen and paper instead of a computer. Embrace boredom to allow your mind to wander and spark creativity. Take rest days to replenish your creative energy when needed, and do not miss a single day to spend in nature.

Favorite quotes from the book:

"There is more to life than increasing in speed"


"We do not remember days, we remember moments"

Cesare Paves

"To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work"

Mary Oliver

"The closed door is your way of telling yourself and the world that you mean business"

Stephen King

"What do you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while"

Gretchen Rubin

"Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Howard Thurman

Beyond the Book

The official is a treasure trove of additional resources. It includes blog posts, templates, tools, and downloadable materials designed to help readers implement the principles from the book effectively. For those who own the book, there's a special Bonus Pack available. It includes:

Bonus Chapter: "The Someday Fund" by John Zeratsky

11 Bonus Tactics**: Extra strategies to enhance your time management skills

Exclusive Interviews**: In-depth conversations with experts Wendy Wood and Erik Skogsberg

Although primarily focused on their earlier book "Sprint," this talk also covers relevant themes of productivity and time management. It's a great way to see the authors' approach to problem-solving and time management in a high-paced environment like Google (YouTube).

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