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Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky - Book Summary

Haikal Kushahrin
Haikal Kushahrin
23 min read
Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky - Book Summary

Make Time is a book that explains a simple 4-step system for improving focus, finding greater joy in your work and getting more out of every day. It was written by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, New York Times bestselling authors of the book, Sprint.

I find this book really helpful in helping me focus on things that are important to me, as I often find myself stuck doing things I don’t enjoy or find useful. (Busy Bandwagon). If you’d like a framework to focus on what’s important for you, then this book is for you.

Take-Home Message

Make Time explains a 4 part framework to help you make time for things that really matter to you. The book gives 87 tactics that we can use for the 4 part framework, but it’s important to realize that there’s no one size fits all to productivity, so feel free to use whichever tactics that work for you.

Life often feels like it passes by us because of two things, the Busy Bandwagon & Infinity Pools.

You can’t rely on willpower alone to defeat these two powerful forces. Make Time is a 4 part system for us to defeat the two, which are Highlight, Laser, Energise and Reflect.

My Highlights

  • In the twenty-first century, two very powerful forces compete for every minute of your time. The first is what we call the Busy Bandwagon. The Busy Bandwagon is our culture of constant busyness—the overflowing inboxes, stuffed calendars, and endless to-do lists.
  • The second force competing for your time is what we call the Infinity Pools. Infinity Pools are apps and other sources of endlessly replenishing content.
  • This always-available, always-new entertainment is your reward for the exhaustion of constant busyness.
  • Both forces—the Busy Bandwagon and the Infinity Pools—are powerful because they’ve become our defaults.
  • our workplaces and our culture have built-in defaults that make busy and distracted the normal, typical state of affairs. These standard settings are everywhere.
  • When we tear ourselves away from the Busy Bandwagon, the Infinity Pools are ready to lure us in.
  • Willpower isn’t the way out.
  • Productivity isn’t the solution, either.
  • choosing what you want to focus on, building the energy to do it, and breaking the default cycle so that you can start being more intentional about the way you live your life. Even if you don’t completely control your own schedule—and few of us do—you absolutely can control your attention.
  • This isn’t about saving time. It’s about making time for what matters.
  • Then it hit me: Being more productive didn’t mean I was doing the most important work; it only meant I was reacting to other people’s priorities faster.
  • The first thing we learned was that something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.
  • Another lesson from our design sprints was that we got more done when we banned devices.
  • We also learned about the importance of energy for focused work and clear thinking.
  • Experimenting allowed us to improve the process,
  • Make Time Is Just Four Steps, Repeated Every Day The four daily steps of Make Time are inspired by what we learned from design sprints, from our own experiments, and from readers who have tried out the framework and shared their results. Here’s a zoomed-out view of how each day looks:
  • The first step is choosing a single highlight to prioritize in your day. Next, you’ll employ specific tactics to stay laser-focused on that highlight—we’ll offer a menu of tricks to beat distraction in an always-connected world. Throughout the day, you’ll build energy so you can stay in control of your time and attention. Finally, you’ll reflect on the day with a few simple notes.
  • The first step in Make Time is deciding what you want to make time for. Every day, you’ll choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar.
  • Asking yourself “What’s going to be the highlight of my day?” ensures that you spend time on the things that matter to you and don’t lose the entire day reacting to other people’s priorities.
  • adjust your technology so you can find Laser mode.
  • That’s why the third component of Make Time is to charge your battery with exercise, food, sleep, quiet, and face-to-face time.
  • Finally, before going to bed, you’ll take a few notes. It’s super simple: You’ll decide which tactics you want to continue and which ones you want to refine or drop.2 And you’ll think back on your energy level, whether you made time for your Highlight, and what brought you joy in the day.
  • Instead, you’ll pick, test, and repeat. As you read, take note of any tactics you want to try. Fold the corner of the page or make a list on a piece of paper. Look for tactics that seem doable but a little challenging—and especially, look for tactics that sound like fun.
  • Perfection is a distraction—another shiny object taking your attention away from your real priorities.
  • Don’t even try to do it perfectly—there’s no such thing!
  • The best tactics are the ones that fit into your day. They’re not something you force yourself to do; they’re just something you do. And in most cases, they’ll be things you want to do.
  • We disagree. 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.
  • In other words, I needed to make sure every day had a highlight.
  • We believe that focusing on these in-between activities—in the space between goals and tasks—is the key to slowing down, bringing satisfaction to your daily life, and helping you make time. Long-term goals are useful for orienting you in the right direction but make it hard to enjoy the time spent working along the way. And tasks are necessary to get things done, but without a focal point, they fly by in a forgettable haze.
  • We want you to begin each day by thinking about what you hope will be the bright spot. If, at the end of the day, someone asks you, “What was the highlight of your day?” what do you want your answer to be? When you look back on your day, what activity or accomplishment or moment do you want to savor? That’s your Highlight.
  • But choosing a Highlight gives you a chance to be proactive about how you spend your time instead of letting technology, office defaults, and other people set your agenda.
  • Research shows that the way you experience your days is not determined primarily by what happens to you. In fact, you create your own reality by choosing what you pay attention to.
  • What do I want to be the highlight of my day?
  • What’s the most pressing thing I have to do today?
  • At the end of the day, which Highlight will bring me the most satisfaction?
  • When I reflect on today, what will bring me the most joy?
  • We think the best way to choose a Highlight is to trust your gut to decide whether an urgent, joyful, or satisfying Highlight is best for today.
  • choose a Highlight that takes sixty to ninety minutes.
  • Of course, your Highlight isn’t magical. Deciding where to focus your energy on any particular day isn’t going to make it happen automatically. But being intentional is an essential step toward making more time in your life. Choosing a Highlight makes focusing on your priorities the default, so you can spend time and energy on what matters, not on reacting to the distractions and demands of modern life.
  • As you read the tactics on the following pages, remember the mantra Pick, Test, Repeat. Make a note of the tactics that sound helpful, fun, and a little challenging. If you’re just starting with Make Time, focus on one Highlight tactic at a time. If it works, keep it in your routine. If you need additional help choosing and making time for your Highlight, come back and add another tactic you want to try. Now let’s start highlighting the people, projects, and work that matter most to you.
  • Yes, we know this sounds obvious, but there’s a special, almost magical power to writing down your plans: The things you write down are more likely to happen. If you want to make time for your Highlight, start by writing it down.
  • Make writing down your Highlight a simple daily ritual. You can do it at any time, but the evening (before bed) and the morning work best for most people.
  • Where should you record your Highlight? You’ve got plenty of options.
  • Just like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, you can do yesterday again.
  • Repeat for a second chance.
  • Repeat to build momentum.
  • Repeat to create a habit.
  • Repeat to keep the good times rolling.
  • Make a list of the big things that matter in your life.
  • Choose the one most important thing.
  • Choose the second, third, fourth, and fifth most important things.
  • Rewrite the list in order of priority.
  • Draw a circle around number one.
  • Use this list to help you choose Highlights.
  • Bundle up the small tasks and use batch processing to get them all done in one Highlight session.
  • To-do lists also can obscure what’s really important. We’re all susceptible to choosing the path of least resistance, especially when we’re tired, stressed, overwhelmed, or just plain busy. To-do lists make it worse because they mix easy tasks with hard-but-important ones. When you use a to-do list, you’re tempting yourself to put off those important tasks and knock off one of the easy items instead. But to-do lists aren’t all bad. They let you capture things so you don’t have to hold them all in your brain. To-do lists let you see everything in one place. They’re a necessary evil.
  • My solution to the to-do-list problem is to separate the decision about what to do from the act of doing it. I call my approach the Might-Do List. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a list of things you might do.
  • Here’s how it worked: Before a day of boat work, we’d sit down with our Might-Do List and talk about everything we could do. We’d use the same three Highlight criteria—urgency, satisfaction, and joy—to select the work that was important to do today. Then we’d put it on the calendar, using our best guess at the time required. When the specified time rolled around, we’d show up at our boat, tools and coffee in hand, with a plan for the day. This helped us stay intentional and focused and allowed us to finish each day with a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
  • The Burner List won’t have room for everything, and that means you’ll have to let go of things that aren’t as important. But again, that’s exactly the point. I’ve found that one big project, one small project, and a short list of catchall tasks are all I can (or should!) take on at once. If it doesn’t fit on the paper, it won’t fit in my life.
  • As a result, we can accomplish exponentially more than we could if those same hours were spread across weeks and months. But this kind of a sprint isn’t just for teams; you can run a “personal sprint” yourself. Whether you’re painting the living room, learning to juggle, or preparing a report for a new client, you’ll do better work and make faster progress if you keep at it for consecutive days. Just choose the same Highlight for several days in a row (breaking it up into steps for each day if you need to) and keep your mental computer running.
  • If you want to make time for your Highlight, start with the calendar. Like writing down your Highlight (#1), this tactic could hardly be simpler:
  • Use daily “do not schedule” blocks to make room for your Highlight.
  • you can’t block your calendar, there’s another way to clear time for your Highlight: Bulldoze it.
  • You know what? We think bailing is fine provided that you do something worthwhile instead. Of course, you can’t skip out on everything all the time, but there’s a big middle ground between blindly serving your calendar and being an unreliable flake.
  • But the best way to get out of low-priority obligations is never to accept them in the first place.
  • In short, be nice but honest.
  • designing your entire day.
  • In the evening, he looks back and quickly evaluates his schedule for what worked and what didn’t and compares his plan with how he really spent his time. Then he adjusts his future schedule to account for what he’s learned.
  • But a completely planned day provides the freedom to focus on the moment. Instead of thinking about what to do next, you’re free to focus on how to do it.
  • You can be in the flow, trusting the plan set out by your past self. When is the best time of day to check email? How long should it take? You can design the answers ahead of time rather than reacting in real time.
  • Sarah’s secret was establishing a solid, predictable schedule by designing her day hour by hour. She used a notebook for planning her schedule and evaluating what really did or didn’t get done afterward. “It made me realize there are actually enough hours in the day to get stuff done. Instead of writing to-do lists, I map out my day in half-hour increments.”
  • Rather than using my calendar or a journal, I used an approach recommended by Cal Newport in Deep Work: writing my schedule on a piece of blank paper, then replanning throughout the day as things change and evolve, like this:
  • It worked. The constant redesigning gave me a handle on how I was spending my time, showed me when my best writing time was, and helped me establish a routine. Now, when I feel things are out of whack, I know what to do—it’s time to redesign my day.
  • If you can’t make time for your Highlight in the middle of the day, you might try creating some space in the early morning or late evening. JZ’s a night owl who turned himself into a morning person. Jake couldn’t make the switch, so he optimized the night. Here are our strategies.
  • Start with Light, Coffee, and Something to Do
  • Design the Nights Before
  • Pay attention to how food and drink affect your sleep.
  • Finally, adjust your environment to wind down and signal “bedtime” to your body.
  • but in the end I came up with a three-part strategy for turning nighttime into Highlight time:
  • Quit When You’re Done
  • The word Laser might sound intense, but if you’ve chosen a Highlight and cleared time, there doesn’t have to be anything hard or complicated about it. When you’re doing something you care about and have the energy to focus, Laser mode simply appears.
  • Unless…you get distracted. Distraction is the enemy of Laser mode. It’s like a giant disco ball in the path of your laser beam: Light goes everywhere except in the direction of the target. When that happens, you can easily end up missing out on your Highlight.
  • In this world, willpower alone is not enough to protect your focus.
  • Create Barriers to Distraction
  • Part of the reason we’re all so hooked on distractions is that everybody else is, too.
  • Here, in a nutshell, is how to set up your own distraction-free phone (you can also find a detailed guide with screenshots for both iPhones and Androids on maketimebook.com):
  • When you’re done using email, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, log out.
  • Personally,
  • Notifications are not your friends. They’re nonstop attention thieves. Whether or not you try a distraction-free phone, you should at the very least turn off almost all notifications.
  • Leave only the really critical and useful ones enabled, such as calendar reminders and text messages.
  • Clear Your Homescreen
  • A wristwatch replaces the need to check your phone whenever you want to know the time. And if you’re anything like us, a quick time check on your phone often pulls you into an Infinity Pool, especially when there’s a notification on the screen.
  • Leaving your devices behind is a helpful tactic when you want to make time for an “offline” Highlight like reading to your kids or working on a project with your hands.
  • Instead of keeping your phone by your side when you get home, put it in a drawer or on a shelf; better still, stow it in your bag and shut your bag in the closet.
  • Savor it. Don’t reach for email, Twitter, Facebook, or the news right away.
  • Here’s a simple litmus test: If after spending a few minutes (or, more likely, a few minutes that become an hour) with this website or app you feel regret, it’s probably Kryptonite.
  • We’ve got some breaking news of our own: You don’t need to follow the daily news. True breaking news will find you, and the rest isn’t urgent or just doesn’t matter.
  • If you want to get into Laser mode faster, we recommend putting your toys away.
  • That means signing out of apps like Twitter and Facebook, closing extra tabs, and turning off email and chat at the end of each day.
  • First, if your seat has a screen, turn it off when you sit down. Second, if your airplane has Wi-Fi, don’t pay for it. Make these two choices at the beginning of your flight, fasten your safety belt, and enjoy Laser mode at 35,000 feet.
  • That’s just the default. When it’s time to get into Laser mode, try turning the Internet off.
  • Canceling your Internet is not quite as extreme as it sounds, because you can still get online by using your phone as a hotspot.
  • Small distractions create much larger holes in our day. We call these holes “time craters,”
  • “Good,” says your brain. “I’m on top of things!” When
  • When it’s time for Laser mode, remind yourself: Your Highlight is the real win.
  • Instead of reacting to a trigger, prompt, or interruption, you can proactively use your favorite apps—even distracting Infinity Pools—as tools.
  • wanted to use Twitter to spread the word about my work and respond to questions from readers. But to do that, I realized, I didn’t need much time, and I didn’t need to see the main feed at all. Now, I use Twitter only on my laptop—not my phone—and I limit myself to thirty minutes each day. To use that time well, I go directly to Twitter’s notifications screen (by typing in the URL), skipping the distracting feed. Then, when I’m done, I log out (#18) until tomorrow’s daily Twitter time.
  • I use a browser plug-in to limit myself to just four minutes per day, combined, on Twitter and news websites. This restriction has trained me to move fast.
  • Even when your team wins, the euphoria creates a time crater (#30) as you get sucked into watching highlights and reading follow-up analysis.
  • We’re not asking you to give it all up. We simply suggest that you step over to the dark side by becoming a fair-weather fan. Watch games only on special occasions, like when your team is in the playoffs. Stop reading the news when they’re losing. You can still love your team yet spend your time on something else.
  • But if you want to get into Laser mode and finish your Highlight, we recommend that you join us in the fight and slow down your own inbox.
  • Instead of checking your email first thing in the morning and then getting sucked in and reacting to other people’s priorities, deal with email at the end of the day.
  • To help establish a new end-of-day email routine, try putting it on your calendar.
  • JZ makes an empty email inbox a weekly goal: As long as he gets to everything by the end of the week, he’s good.
  • A lot of email stress comes from thinking you need to constantly check and immediately respond to every new message. But you’re better off treating email like old-fashioned paper letters—you know, the kind with envelopes and stamps.
  • Above all, taking control of your inbox requires a mental shift from “as fast as possible” to “as slow as you can get away with.” Respond slowly to emails, chats, texts, and other messages. Let hours, days, and sometimes weeks go by before you get back to people. This may sound like a total jerk move. It’s not.
  • Every time you check your email or another message service, you’re basically saying, “Does any random person need my time right now?” And if you respond right away, you’re sending another signal both to them and to yourself: “I’ll stop what I’m doing to put other people’s priorities ahead of mine no matter who they are or what they want.”
  • Of course, when you limit your email time or increase your response time, you may need to manage the expectations of your colleagues and others. You could say something like this: “I’m slow to respond because I need to prioritize some important projects, but if your message is urgent, send me a text.”
  • Although not receiving email on your phone is wonderful, sometimes it’s still useful to have the ability to send email.
  • You can—and should—go off the grid anywhere and take a real vacation.
  • You can lock yourself out of your inbox.
  • Sorry, TV, but we’ve gotta say it: You take too much damn time.
  • You don’t have to throw away your television. But instead of watching every day, make it a special occasion. Or, to borrow from a phrase Jake and his wife use with their kids to explain why they don’t eat ice cream every day, make it a sometimes treat.
  • If you make only one change to your viewing habits, cut the news. TV news is incredibly inefficient; it’s an endless loop of talking heads, repetitive stories, advertisements, and empty sound bites.
  • Instead, rearrange the furniture so that looking at the television is a bit awkward and inconvenient. This way, the default activity becomes conversation.
  • Next time you’re in the market for a television, consider buying a projector and a fold-up projection screen instead. It’s a cheaper way to get a big cinemalike display. It’s also a pain in the ass to set up every time you want to watch. This hassle is, of course, a good thing, because it switches the default to off.
  • Try canceling cable, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and the like, and instead rent or buy movies and episodes one at a time.
  • You don’t have to give up television, but if you find it hard to reduce your hours, you might want to get extreme and try going cold turkey for a month. Unplug the TV, put it in the closet, or take it to a storage locker ten miles away and hide the key. Do whatever you have to do—just go without for a month.
  • If your Highlight requires focused work, do yourself a favor and shut the door. If you don’t have a room with a door, look for one you can camp out in for a few hours. And if you can’t find one, put on headphones—even if you don’t actually put on any music. Headphones and closed doors signal to everyone else that you shouldn’t be interrupted, and they send a signal to you, too. You’re telling yourself, “Everything I need to pay attention to is right here.” You’re telling yourself it’s time for Laser mode.
  • Nothing’s better for focus than a deadline. When someone else is waiting expectantly for results, it’s a lot easier to get into Laser mode.
  • The trouble is that deadlines are usually for things we dread (like doing taxes), not for things we want to do (like practicing the ukulele). But this is an easy problem to solve. You can invent a deadline.
  • You, too, can create a deadline that will help you make time for something you want to do. Register for a 5K run. Invite your friends over for a homemade pasta dinner before you’ve learned how to make it. Sign up to exhibit at an art show before you’ve painted the pictures. Or you can simply tell a friend what your Highlight is today and ask them to hold you accountable for getting it done.
  • When you’re not sure where to start, try breaking your Highlight into a list of small, easy-to-do bits.
  • Shifting your focus to something that your mind perceives as a doable, completable task will create a real increase in positive energy, direction, and motivation.
  • If you’re struggling to get into Laser mode, try a cue.
  • A cue is any trigger that causes you to act consciously or unconsciously.
  • We suggest using music as your cue for Laser mode. Try playing the same song or album every time you start your Highlight, or choose a specific song or album for each type of Highlight.
  • If you use the Time Timer when you’re getting into Laser mode, you’ll feel an instant, visceral sense of urgency in a totally good way. By showing you that time is elapsing, the Time Timer will get you to focus on the task at hand.
  • Unless you’re a carpenter, a mechanic, or a surgeon, choosing the perfect tool is usually a distraction, yet another way to stay busy instead of doing the work you want to be doing.
  • In our design sprints, we found that we did better work when we turned off our laptops and used pens and paper instead. And the same is true for your personal projects.
  • It’s natural to feel twitchy for your phone or browser. You’ll wonder if you have any new email. You’ll feel a burning desire to know Who was that actor in that movie? Instead of reacting to every twitch, write your questions on a piece of paper (How much do wool socks cost on Amazon? Any Facebook updates?). Then you can stay in Laser mode, secure in the knowledge that those pressing topics have been captured for future research.
  • Pay attention to the physical sensations of a single breath:
  • You can repeat this if you like, but one breath really can be enough to reset your attention. Paying attention to your body shuts up the noise in your brain.
  • When you’re deprived of distraction, you may feel bored—but boredom is actually a good thing.
  • In separate studies, researchers at Penn State and the University of Central Lancashire found that bored test subjects were better at creative problem solving than were their nonbored peers.
  • Instead, just be stuck. Don’t give up. Stare at the blank screen, or switch to paper, or walk around, but keep your focus on the project at hand.
  • If you’ve tried these techniques and you still don’t have Laser mode in you, don’t beat yourself up. You might need a rest day.
  • We believe in rest, but there is an alternative. Here’s a tactic from an honest-to-goodness modern-day monk: You know the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest….The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness. —BROTHER DAVID STEINDL-RAST
  • Wholeheartedness is complete commitment, holding nothing back.
  • Of course, both physical rest and mental rest are extremely important. But if you’re feeling worn out and unable to focus, Brother David says you don’t always need to take a break. Sometimes, if you go all in and embrace the current task with wild abandon, you may find it becomes easier to focus. You may find the energy is already there.
  • Choosing a Highlight and getting into Laser mode are the core of Make Time. But the secret sauce is Energize. Our thesis is simple: If you have energy, it’s easier to maintain your focus and priorities and avoid reacting to distractions and demands. With a full battery, you have the power to be present, think clearly, and spend your time on what matters, not default to what’s right in front of you.
  • When you don’t take care of your body, your brain can’t do its job. If you’ve ever felt sluggish and uninspired after a big lunch or invigorated and clearheaded after exercising, you know what we mean. If you want energy for your brain, you need to take care of your body.
  • We’re the descendants of those ancient humans, but our species hasn’t evolved nearly as fast as the world around us has. 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 restful sleep that’s aligned with the rhythm of the day.
  • Act Like a Caveman to Build Energy
  • Our bodies and brains perform best when we’re in motion. To charge your battery, you don’t have to train for a marathon or attend predawn boot camp. Just a twenty- to thirty-minute session can make the brain work better, reduce stress, improve your mood, and make it easier to sleep well, providing more energy for the next day—a pretty sweet positive feedback loop.
  • Eat Real Food
  • Optimize Caffeine
  • Today’s constant noise and distractions are a disaster for your energy and your attention span.
  • Today, our interactions are mostly screen to screen, but you can kick it old school by finding the people who charge your battery and getting together in person.
  • Sleep in a Cave
  • Moving your body is the best way to charge your battery. But you don’t need lengthy complicated workouts. Our philosophy is simple: Exercise for about twenty minutes… Research shows that the most important cognitive, health, and mood benefits of exercise can be attained in just twenty minutes. …every day…
  • To put it in technical terms, walking is really, really darned good for you.
  • You just have to be willing to reset your default from “convenient” to “energizing,” like this:
  • Cook Dinner
  • Take the Stairs
  • Use a Suitcase Without Wheels
  • That’s why we’re fans of high-intensity interval training, an approach to exercise that emphasizes quality over quantity.
  • Eating real food—in other words, nonprocessed ingredients Urk would recognize, such as plants, nuts, fish, and meat—made a huge difference in our energy levels.
  • One simple technique to keep meals light and energizing is to put salad on your plate first, then add everything else around it.
  • The point is that just because we can eat all the time, that doesn’t mean we should. Even though we’re lucky enough to live in a world of abundant food, our bodies are still the same as Urk’s, evolved to survive and thrive in a world where food was scarce.
  • To keep your battery charged, pretend you’re a toddler or, more accurately, the parent of a toddler. Look out for crankiness and frustration and be prepared with a nutritious remedy.
  • Dark chocolate has way less sugar than most other treats, so you’ll get less of a crash.
  • In the morning, your body naturally produces lots of cortisol, a hormone that helps you wake up. When cortisol is high, caffeine doesn’t do much for you (except for temporarily relieving your caffeine addiction symptoms). For most folks, cortisol is highest between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., so for ideal morning energy, experiment with having that first cup of coffee at 9:30 a.m.
  • The tricky thing about caffeine is that if you wait to drink it until you get tired, it’s too late:
  • high-yield way to take advantage of caffeine mechanics is to wait till you get tired, drink some caffeine, then immediately take a fifteen-minute nap.
  • To keep a steady energy level throughout the day, try replacing high doses of caffeine (such as a giant cup of brewed coffee) with more frequent low doses. Green tea is a great option.
  • Try to time your caffeine intake so that you’re wired right when you start your Highlight.
  • You’ve got to experiment to figure out your own unique “Last Call for Caffeine,” but if you have trouble sleeping, your last call might be earlier than you think.
  • we do suggest you consider separating the caffeine from the sweets.
  • So a little exposure to nature can make you measurably calmer and sharper.
  • If the word meditation feels uncomfortable to you, just call it something else. Try “quiet time,” “resting,” “pausing,” “taking a break,” or “doing a Headspace” (or whatever app you use).
  • Your music, podcast, or audiobook prevents boredom, but boredom creates space for thinking and focus (#57).
  • Take a break and leave your headphones at home. Just listen to the sounds of traffic, or the clack of your keyboard, or your footsteps on the pavement. Resist the itch to fill the blank space.
  • But an occasional headphone vacation for a day or just an hour is an easy way to put some quiet in your day and give your brain a moment to recharge.
  • Instead, try to take breaks without screens: Gaze out the window (it’s good for your eyes), go for a walk (it’s good for your mind and body), grab a snack (it’s good for your energy if you’re hungry), or talk to someone (it’s usually good for your mood unless you talk to a jerk).
  • Even if it’s only once a week, reach out to friends whom you admire, who inspire you, who make you laugh, who let you be yourself. Spending time with interesting, high-energy people is one of the best—and most enjoyable—ways to recharge your battery.
  • When you eat without screens, you hit three of our five Energize principles at once. You’re less likely to mindlessly shovel unhealthy food in your mouth, you’re more likely to have an energizing face-to-face conversation with another human, and you’re creating space in your day to give your brain a rest from its constant busyness.
  • If you want to improve your sleep, keep the phone out of your bedroom—at all times. And don’t stop there. Remove all electronic devices to transform your bedroom into a true sanctuary for sleep. No TVs, no iPads. No Kindles with backlights. In other words: Make your bedroom a bed room.
  • Turn on your phone, computer, or TV’s “night mode.” These features shift screen colors from blue to red and orange. Instead of looking at a bright sky, it’s like sitting around a campfire.
  • You don’t even have to fall asleep. Just lying down and resting for ten to twenty minutes can be a great way to recharge.
  • “It’s tempting to try catching up by sleeping late,” Kristen said. “The problem is, it doesn’t work.”
  • She told us that sleeping late on weekends is basically like giving yourself jet lag:
  • On airplanes, they tell you to put on your own mask before assisting other passengers.
  • A newborn baby is kind of like a loss of cabin pressure, and if you don’t take care of yourself (at least a little), you can’t be a great caretaker.
  • Every day you’ll reflect on whether you made time for your Highlight and how well you were able to focus on it. You’ll note how much energy you had. You’ll review the tactics you used, jot down some observations on what worked and what didn’t, and make a plan for which tactics you’ll try tomorrow.
  • There’s an invisible premise behind Make Time: You’re already close. Small shifts can put you in control. If you reduce a few distractions, increase your physical and mental energy just a bit, and focus your attention on one bright spot, a blah day can become extraordinary. It doesn’t require an empty calendar—just sixty to ninety minutes of attention on something special.
  • When you create a practice of setting your own most important priority, daily life changes. Perhaps you’ll find your inner compass perfectly aligned with your current work, in which case you’ll now be that much more capable of identifying and acting on the most important opportunities.
  • Don’t wait for “someday” to make time for what makes you come alive. Start today.

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Haikal Kushahrin

3rd-year medical student. buy me a coffee :) ko-fi.com/haikal


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