I recently finished the book Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. The book details a plan for productivity – a way to make time for the most important things in your life while squeezing out the less important, trivial things. I have found that by making some minor tweaks to my daily routine, I’ve already found myself to be more productive.
Here are some takeaways that I gleaned from the book:
- Consider writing your To-Do list as a Burner List. The most important task that you need to focus on goes on the front burner (left side of your paper) while a second project or task goes on the back burner (right side, top of your paper). Any miscellaneous tasks go on the list in the “kitchen sink” (bottom right of your paper). What I love about this strategy is that it prioritizes your To-Do list, and helps you to recognize that not all tasks are created equal. Some are more important than others and deserve your time and attention.
- Turn your phone into a distraction-free zone. I cleaned up my phone after reading this book to become less distracting. I removed social media apps like Twitter, and removed email and the internet browser from my phone. I’m still using these things but forcing myself to use them on a computer for a limited amount of time per day. Time spent aimlessly surfing the web or checking my email for the 75th time in a day has almost disappeared. It has given me hours back in my day.
- Recognize an opportunity for Groundhog Day. A successful, productive day can be repeated to allow you to experience the same success. If you started the day yesterday with a 30 minute stationary bike ride, followed by a 30 minute writing session, and it went particularly well, then repeat it. Recognize the next day as a groundhog day, and start it the same way.
- Avoid the Morning Check In. I used to spend between 20-30 minutes engaged with my phone first thing in the morning – checking Twitter, News Sources, Baseball Scores, etc. Now I try to start my day by going 2 hours before picking it up. I’ve started to build the habit of picking up a book instead, sometimes a physical book, and sometimes my kindle. Replacing the phone habit with a reading habit has worked wonders for me.
- End the Email Escapades. I used to have three emails connected to my phone email app. This didn’t even include my work email which I refused to add to my phone, although I ended up checking it through the internet browser on my phone. I mentioned checking email 75 times in a day, and I don’t think this was an exaggeration. I ditched the email app and internet browser on my phone, and now only allow myself to check email using my laptop. I do this once in the morning, and will check email a second time in the evening if I am expecting a reply. Switching to this mindset about email has helped me to become more productive and less anxious.
The ideas/strategies presented in this book have helped me to rethink where I place my energy every day. I’ve tried to focus more on meaningful activities, and managed to capture back several hours in my day. I’d recommend the book to anyone who feels overwhelmed, over-stressed, and near burnout.