Ranjana TN

Make Time – by Jack Knapp and John Zeratsky

My Notes

I’m part of a book club that meets every month to discuss a book. The book we chose for April 2020 was Make Time by Jack Knapp and John Zeratsky. What was particularly inviting about this book to me was the authors. They have been a part of the Silicon Valley startup culture the crowning glory of which was creating the 5-day quick and dirty prototyping method (which they discuss in their book Sprint) at Google Ventures. Coming from the startup scene in Bangalore, I could relate to their journey.

In Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day, they go into ways of doing exactly that – making time for things that matter to you. I found the book a fascinating read. What warmed me to the book (and the authors) right away was that it did not talk about how to squeeze most out of every second of the day. Rather, it focused on how to do all the things you want to do without feeling that crazy sense of rush. I loved that it was packed with actionable tips that could be applied by anyone right away. I like books that don’t just give the meta but cover the tactical stuff too. On that front, the book definitely delivered.

The book outlines the following framework for making time every day:

  1. Choosing a single highlight to prioritize in your day: The highlight is the thing that you want to make time for. It shouldn’t be something that you’ll need several hours to complete. Neither should it be something super short (such as a 2-min task). Pick something that can be done in 60-90 minutes.
  2. Having laser-focus on your highlight: Once you decide on what your highlight for the day is going to be, ensure that you don’t have anything else taking your attention away and are fully immersed in that activity.
  3. Energising yourself: Making time needs you to have the energy to do what you want to do. From what you eat to how you sleep and move, there are several ways to recharge your batteries.
  4. Reflection: You need to make sure that what you’re doing daily is actually working. Refection is important for this. Test different strategies, take stock of how your experiments are going and repeat. You’ll soon find your own personalized system that works wonderfully for you.

The authors actually describe 87 tactics (!) to ‘make time’. These tactics are spread across the 4 parts of the framework and are highly actionable. I’m not going to cover them all, but here are a few that I found super useful and applied right away:

  1. Tactic #8: Schedule your highlight. Right now, the highlight for me is writing a blog post every day. I schedule that for the sunset hours (5-7 pm).
  2. Tactic #17: Try a distraction-free phone. I removed a couple of apps from my phone. The wonder of wonders – I’m still able to function just fine. Plus, guess what, I’m far less distracted!
  3. Tactic #51: Play a laser soundtrack. Unintentionally, I’d already been using this one. When I want to write my blog post, I play a set of 5 songs on a loop to help me get into the laser zone.
  4. Tactic #62: Pound the pavement. I started taking long walks ever since I got started on this book. It’s been amazing. I’m going to keep using walks as a means of energizing myself.
  5. Tactic #72: Take a caffeine nap. Okay, to be honest, I found all the tactics given about using caffeine smartly absolutely fascinating. This one was the most fascinating of them all! I’ve accidentally applied this before. I’m going to start doing it more consciously going forward.
  6. Tactic #78: Trick yourself into meditating. Actually I meditate every day and don’t need to trick myself into doing it. I’ve been meditating forever now. Here’s why.
  7. Tactic #80: Take real breaks. I know that I don’t do this often enough. So I mean to change that because it makes so much sense. The idea is to make sure that you don’t ‘surf the internet’ while taking a break. Breaks should energize you, not engage your brain and reduce the reserves.

Here’s the verdict – you should totally read Make Time! I listened to the audiobook and like the way the authors have narrated it. I’m considering buying the kindle version too simply because it’s good for quick reference. I’d like to try as many tactics as possible and arrive at a system that works great for me.