Table of contents
🔖 Key Ideas
- Identify a single, central task as the focus of each day, and dedicate your time and energy to support that task.
- Highlight: start each day by choosing a single focal point
- Laser: beat distractions to make time for your Highlight
- Reflect: adjust and improve your system every day
- Energize: Take care of your body to recharge your brain
- Most of our time is spent by default
- Magic happens when you start your day with a single focus point
🌟 General Themes
People today feel overwhelmed by work, meetings, other people's demands and to-do lists that never stop growing.
Making time is just four steps, repeated every day (pick, test, repeat):
- Single activity to prioritize and protect — Highlight
- Adjust technology to fin focus — Laser
- Charge battery with food, sleep, quiet and face-to-face time — Energize
- Take a few notes, decide what you want to keep doing or eliminate — Reflect
😀 Should You Read it?
You shouldn't be running on other people's default mode. Set your own defaults. Build new habits, new mindsets. Stop reacting to the modern world. Start making time for people and activities that matter to you. It's not about how much time you save— it's about making time for what matters.
📦 Valuable Lessons
- Two powerful sources compete for our attention, our every minute, in the twenty-first century: (1) Busy Wagons: overflowing inboxes, calendars, endless to-dos, (2) Infinity Pools: replenishing content, pull to refresh streams that are always available, always new entertainment for the exhaustion of busyness.
- The average person spends four-plus hours a day on their smartphone and another four-plus hours watching TV shows — distractions have quite literally become full-time jobs.
- Block off time for your Focus on your calendar. Be firm with the time you set aside, and make sure you use that time constructively.
- Turn your technology into tools that serve you, not the other way around.
- Be intentional about what you watch. Be mindful of why and how you use each different platform.
- Eat smart, move around.
- Invent deadlines.
💁 Snippets & Quotes
There's more to life than increasing its speed.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.
— Jake Knapp
We do not remember days, we remember moments.
— Cesare Pavese
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
— Mary Oliver
The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business.
— Stephen King
You know the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest… The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.
— Brother David Steindl-Rast
What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
— Gretchen Rubin
Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alone and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman
✍️ The Might-Do List
There's a simple solution to the to-do list problem. To solve this problem, the problem of deciding what to do from the act of doing it, you must run two separate lists. That second list is the Might-Do Lis. It's a list of all the things you might do.
A simple approach to the might-do list is that every project you think you want to accomplish sits there until it becomes your Highlight and is scheduled in your calendar.
✅ Highlight Tactics
Write it down
If your highlight is part of a bigger project, make progress, and run a personal sprint. You will see that focusing on the same highlight for bigger projects is critical.
Don't reinvent yourself every day — you need repetition to build momentum. You need to repeat to create a habit. Repeat to get the good times rolling.
Stack Rank Your Life
Make a list of the big things that matter in your life. Friends, Family, Hobbies, Activities, Get Promoted, you name it. Whatever needs successful steps to achieve, write them down. Then choose the one most important thing. Rank your second, third, fourth and fifth most important things right after and rewrite your list. Keep going back to that list to choose your highlight.
Run Personal Sprint
Whenever you begin a project, your brain is like a computer starting up, loading relevant information, rules, and processes into your working memory. This "boot up" takes time, and you must redo it to a certain extent every time you pick up the project. For this reason, it's recommended that for big projects, you need to run the same project for at least five days in a row. You will accomplish exponentially more as you go deeper and deeper into the challenge.
Schedule Your Highlight
Start with your calendar to make time for what's important. When you schedule something, you commit yourself, you send a tiny message that says: "I'm going to do this." It forces you to confront the trade-offs in how you spend your time.
Here's a tip from Graham Jenkins from Google: Schedule time for yourself: 6 AM to 11 AM each day. Pay offence, not defence. Don't use your "do not schedule blocks" to avoid coworkers or get out of meetings. Be very intentional with any time you block — turn into Energize or Highlight time.
Design Your Day
When you don't have a plan, you must constantly decide what to do next, and you might get distracted thinking about all the things you should or could do. 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.
Skip the morning check-in. Put it off. The longer you postpone the morning check-in — until 9 AM, 10 AM or even after lunch — the longer you preserve the feeling of calm and easier to get focused.
🔦 Laser Tactics
There's always something new in our inbox, on the Web, or on that shiny smartphone in our pocket. Distracted has become the new default. Willpower alone is not enough to protect your focus anymore.
We have evolved to be distractible because it keeps us safe from danger. We evolved to love mysteries and stories because they helped us communicate and learn. We evolved to love gossip and seek social status because it allowed us to form tight-knit protective tribes. We evolved to love unpredictable rewards from bushes, as with our smartphones notification, because of the possibility of those rewards to keep us going, hunting and gathering. So don't think or wait for technology to give you back time. It's designed to make money from your attention. It will never help you gain your time. You are the product. Your attention is the currency.
The best way to defeat distraction is to make it harder to react.
Focus is like compounding interest. The longer you remain focused on your Highlight (work), the more engaging you'll find it and the better your work.
Reset expectations: "I'm slow to respond because I need to prioritize some critical projects, but if your message is urgent, send me a text or call me directly on my mobile phone," or "I'm away from the office this week, off the grid without access to emails, but I will reply as I'm back."
If you want energy from your brain, you must take care of your body.
- Keep moving: exercise for about 20 minutes per day
- Eat real food
- Optimize caffeine
- Go off the grid
- Make it personal
- Sleep in a cave
Caffeine. It's tricky. If you wait to drink coffee when you are tired, it's too late. The adenosine has already hooked up with your brain, and it's hard to shake off the lethargy. So think about when your energy dips and have coffee thirty minutes beforehand.
Small shifts create big results. Ask yourself every day how it went. Think about how your day, week, and a month went. Then make small tweaks and adjustments to change the things you are unhappy with. Rinse and repeat.