Book Summary — Make Time by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky
A short & sweet book summary, for my own use as much as anyone else’s. Limited to 30 minutes.
✅ The Book in 3 Sentences
- How to use your time more intentionally using a modified version of the Google Ventures “Sprint” framework
- The “Busy Bandwagon” (obsession with productivity) and “Infinity Pools” (infinite content and draw of social media) have made our use of time reactionary — we spend our days reacting to the requests of other people
- The daily framework has 4 simple steps: Highlight — pick a daily highlight. A guiding light for the day. Laser — avoid things that distract you from your highlight. Energise — keep your energy and motivation up throughout the day. Reflect — think about what worked and what didn’t work for you.
💫 General Impressions
I loved this book. Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky are very likeable and personable, whilst still having the credentials of people you should take seriously. The book is written in a very casual, conversational style which makes it a joy to read — there’s even a few laugh out loud moments! The book never claims to be an end-all solution, and the authors are clear that the selection of tactics that they’ve put together should be picked from like a recipe book. Clear, sensible, actionable guidance.
⭐️ Overall rating
🕵️♂️ How I Found It
I know Jake Knapp from his podcast with Jonathon Courtney of AJ&Smart. This book follows Jake & JZ’s “Sprint” book, which is well knwon in the design community.
😀 Who Should Read It?
- Everybody will be able to get at least a handful of pointers on how to utilise their time more intentionally.
- Anybody who feels that their time gets sucked away by reacting other peoples requests for their attention, and don’t get the chance to spend time on the things that they actually want to do.
💭 Things That Stuck With Me
- The concept of a daily highlight is something that I’ve been doing every single day since starting this book, and I think it’ll be something I continue doing forever. Such a simple idea that adds value to every day.
- The realisation that I’ve been spending most of my time reacting to the constant pull of the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools. The ideas in this book have helped me to feel like I’m spending my time much more intentionally.
- That we’re essentially cavemen who have suddenly found ourselves in a world that we haven’t evolved to live in. We can find energy in taking things back to basics sometimes — moving around, being outdoors, eating simple foods, having time to ourselves to just be.
- Concept summary. “Small shifts can put you in control. If you reduce a few distractions, increase your physical and mental energy a bit, and focus your attention on one bright spot, a blah day can become extraordinary. It doesn’t require an empty calendar — just 60 to 90 minutes of attention on something special. The goal is to make time for what matters, find roe balance and enjoy today a little more.”
✏️ Quotes, Notes & Excerpts
- Busy Bandwagon. “In the 21st century, two very powerful forces complete for every minute of your time. The first is what we call the Busy Bandwagon. The Busy Bandwagon is out culture of constant busyness — the overflowing inboxes, stuffed calendars and endless to-do lists. According to the Busy Bandwagon mindset, if you want to meet the demands of a modern workplace and function in modern society , you must fill every minute with productivity.”
- Infinity Pools. “The second force competing for your time is what we call the Infinity Pools. Infinity Pools are the apps and other sources of endlessly replenishing content. If you can pull to refresh, it’s an Infinity Pool. This always-available, always-new entertainment is your reward for your constant busyness. But is endless distraction really a reward?”
- On Perfection. “Stressful, isn’t it? None of us can be perfect eaters, perfectly productive, perfectly mindful, and perfectly rested all the time. We can’t do the fifty-seven things bloggers tell us we’re supposed to do before 5am. And even if we could, we shouldn’t. Perfection is a distraction — another shiny object taking your attention away from your real priorities.”
- Busyness. “Doing more doesn’t help you create time for what matters; it just makes you feel even more frazzled and busy. And when you’re busy day after day, time slides by in a blur. Your daily Highlight is about stopping the blur, slowing down, and actually experiencing the moments you want to savour and remember rather than rushing through them just to get to that next item on your to-do list.
- Daily Highlight. “You create your own reality by choosing what you pay attention to. This might seem obvious, but we think it’s a big deal: You can design your own time by choosing where you direct your attention. And your daily Highlight is the target of that attention.”
- Highlights don’t always have to be “productive”. “To other people, some of your more joyful Highlights may look like wastes of time: sitting at home reading a book, meeting a friend to play frisbee in the park, even doing a crossword puzzle. Not to us. You only waste time if you’re not intentional about how you spend it.”
- Switching costs. “Every distraction imposes a cost on the depth of your focus. When your brain changes contexts — say, going from painting a picture to answering a text and then back to painting again — there’s a switching cost. Your brain has to load a different set of rules and information into working memory.”
- Reacting is too easy. “Reacting to what’s in front of you is always easier than doing what you intended. And when they’re staring you right in the face, tasks such as checking email, responding to a chat, and reading the news feel urgent and important — but they pretty rarely are.
- Fake wins. “Fake Wins come in all shapes and sizes. Updating a spreadsheet is a fake win if it hopes you procrastinate on the harder but more meaningful project you chose as your Highlight. Cleaning the kitchen is a fake win if it burns up time you intended to spend with your kids. And checking your inbox is a never ending source of Fake Wins. Checking email always feels like an accomplishment even when there’s nothing new or important.”
- Brain x Body. “If you want energy for your brain, you have to take care of your body.”
- We’re cavemen. “We’re the descendants of those ancient humans, but our species hasn’t evolved nearly as fast as the world around us. That means we’re still wired for a lifestyle of constant movement, varied but relatively sparse diets, ample quiet, plenty of face-to-face time and rest full sleeps that’s aligned with the rhythm of the day.
- Summary. “Small shifts can put you in control. If you reduce a few distractions, increase your physical and mental energy a bit, and focus your attention on one bright spot, a blah day can become extraordinary. It doesn’t require an empty calendar — just 60 to 90 minutes of attention on something special. The goal is to make time for what matters, find roe balance and enjoy today a little more.”