“I don’t have time!” We often say this when others ask us why we don’t do something. It’s a false argument. We make time for things we want to do. We don’t do it because we don’t make time for it, or we don’t actually want to do it. Most of us always magically have time for scrolling through Twitter but rarely have time for a 10-minute workout every day (guilty me).
In their book Make Time, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky shared their framework on how to make time to focus on what matters; because relying on pure willpower is hard. This book makes a great read to kickstart the year. I highly recommend you read through it yourself (short and fun). I will give you a taste of it below.
Start each day by choosing a “Highlight”, something when you accomplish you will be happy with that day even though that is the only thing you did, the biggest rock you want to crush that day.
This method helps you get around the peril of the traditional to-do list, which obscures what’s most important and leads you to choose the path of least resistance, e.g. keep replying to emails instead of putting more thoughts into a presentation.
How to make time for highlight (two of my favorite tips)
- Block time in your calendar for the highlight
- Say no to other low-priority obligations
When the scheduled time for the highlight comes, you need laser focus to make sure you accomplish it. What’s the enemy of laser focus? Endless distractions we face today: email, social media, news, named “infinity pools” in the book. A quick check of the phone can easily suck you into the infinity pool. The best way to avoid distraction is to make it harder to reach distractions.
How to stay in laser mode (four of my favorite tips)
- Don’t watch daily news — check it only once a week.
- Put a timer on the internet (cut off the internet connection to certain sites — I use an app called Self Control).
- Respond to non-urgent email slower. The faster your reply, the more replies you get back, the more expectations of immediate response.
- Avoid fancy tools — avoid setting up a fancy bullet journal layout (feels productive) instead of doing the work you want to be doing (real productivity).
- Delete distracting apps
Rarely any productivity book talks about this but it is definitely easier to accomplish highlight and maintain laser focuses.
How to energize (one of my favorite tips)
- Take real breaks: Checking social media or the news is not a break, it doesn’t renew or relax your brain, but could easily pull you into the infinity pool.
The framework proposed in the book is an iterative process. So as the last step at the end of each day, you should reflect and take notes on what worked and what didn’t, then reiterate.
As with a lot of productivity tips, they are usually easier said than done. You just need to try and find what works for you to help you focus on what matters. What worked for me so far? Deleting the Youtube app from my phone.