⌚ Focus on what matters every day
3 ideas from the book "Make Time" | Wisdom Letter #175
Welcome to Wisdom Letter 175.
This year we’re doubling down our focus on reading and writing about some of the best books we’ve read over time.
I think books are still the best way to download decades of knowledge from an expert’s mind into your own.
But we all are short on time, and books take long to read.
So if you cannot read all the books we recommend, at least read the notes and lessons that we’ll share here every week.
Speaking of shortage of time, we wanted to start 2023 with a book about productivity and time management.
"Make Time" by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky is perhaps the best book of recent times in the productivity genre.
It aims to help readers make the most of their time and live more fulfilling and purposeful lives.
The book introduces the concept of a "Highlight" as a daily activity that helps you stay focused and make progress on what matters most to you.
I absolutely love that concept and have found it to be super effective in boosting my productivity.
These are the 3 most important ideas from the book “Make Time” that you must internalize -
1. Escape “busyness” and distractions
We often feel like there is not enough time to do what we really want because there is too much to do in a day, such as answering emails, attending meetings, and keeping up with social media.
However, this is only partially true.
We lack time because of 2 reasons -
1. The “Busy” bandwagon
"Do more, do it faster, do it all."
That's the mentality that fills our days with overflowing inboxes, jam-packed calendars, and endless to-do lists.
The pressure to be constantly productive leaves us feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on what really matters.
The busy bandwagon is the culture we live in these days, one that promotes busyness for it’s own sake.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” — MAHATMA GANDHI
2. Infinity Pools
"Infinity Pools" refer to social media platforms, streaming services, and news websites that provide a constant flow of unlimited content that is easily accessible with a tap or click.
Things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, and other digital sources of news, information and entertainment.
If you want to save time, you need to escape the busyness bandwagon and the infinity pools.
And to do that, mere will power isn’t enough.
You need habits, routines and systems.
You need to live more intentionally.
2. 4 Part Framework
To live more intentionally, you have to be more proactive about how you spend your time. And for that the book recommends a 4 part framework that needs to be repeated every day -
Highlight - Pick 1 most important task every day that you will surely get done.
Laser - Block out all distractions so that you can pull off the highlight
Energise - Take care of your body and mind, live like a pre-historic human.
Reflect - Look back, adjust, adapt and improve your system.
Within this framework there are 87 specific tactics for every step that you can use. There is no one size fits all solution that works for every one.
“It’s like a cookbook. You wouldn’t try all the recipes at once, and you don’t need to do all the tactics at once, either”
But all the recipes fall under this 4 part framework.
3. Pick a Highlight every day
It’s important to set aside time for a daily "Highlight" activity or focus.
By choosing one highlight each day, you can stay focused and make progress on what matters most to you.
There are 3 parameters you can use to pick a highlight of the day -
Important/Urgent - Pick something urgent or important that you must get done no matter what. Work related tasks are a good example of these.
Satisfaction - At the end of the day, what would give you the most satisfaction? Side projects are a good example of these.
Joyful - At the end of the day, what would give you the most joy? The things you do just for the sake of doing them. Hobbies and family activities are a good example of these.
Your highlight should be something that you can get done in 60-90 minutes.
Something less than that won’t “feel” like a highlight. And anything longer than that will drain too much energy and you might end up procrastinating on.
So make sure your highlight is between 60 and 90 minutes long.
You will of course do more tasks, but doing the highlight will make sure that your day was fruitful and memorable.
There are 87 tactics mentioned in the book, you can get the book and jump around to find all of them out.
To read a 15 minute summary of the book - do check it out on Blinkist -
They have broken down the book in 13 key ideas and do a good job of summarizing the key concepts.
I usually don’t like book summarization services, because I think we should read the books ourselves and make our own notes.
But I’m getting into Blinkist this year for 2 reasons -
To pre-filter books. So I buy a book only if I like the summary and want to go deeper into an idea. Not all books these days are worth reading in their entirety. For many of them, just a summary of the key ideas is enough.
To revise the key ideas from books I’ve already read. Like I had read Make Time last year, and now for writing this post I wanted to go back to the key concepts, so I didn’t read the whole thing again, instead used Blinkist to resurface the central ideas.
Do check it out -
Even if you don’t buy it, Blinkist is a good service, you can get 1 free book summary from it every day.
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Thank you for reading.
Hope this post gave you a few ideas about how to be more productive this year.
Next week, we’ll return with one of the most important productivity books of our time - Deep Work.
We will distill the most important ideas from that book in less than 5 minutes of reading time for you.
So keep an eye out for that email.
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