Make Time - Book Summary and Review Part - 1

Make Time is a book written by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, who have been product engineers and worked on Gmail, Youtube and Hangouts. They understand the nuances of the lure of technology as they themselves have been part of building many. In the book, they often talk about the endless tasks - Busy Bandwagon, we often attend to and the Infinity Pools that provide endless distractions.

This is a long post. So I am splitting this two parts. Highlight and Laser strategies are discussed in this post. 

"There is more to Life than increasing it's speed."


Changes do not require tons of self-discipline. Instead, change comes from resetting defaults, creating barriers, and beginning to design the way you spend your time.
Make Time Strategy
Make Time Strategy

  • Highlight: Start Each Day by Choosing a Focal Point, a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar.
  • Laser: Beat Distraction to Make Time for Your Highlight.
  • Energize: Use the Body to Recharge the Brain. Charge your battery with exercise, food, sleep, quiet, and face-to-face time.
  • Reflect: Adjust and Improve Your System. Take a few notes at the EOD.

Experiment: Pick, Test, Repeat.


  • Write It Down
  • Groundhog It (or, “Do Yesterday Again”) - Repeat yesterday's highlight, helps in building a habit and gaining momentum. Once you’ve identified something that’s important to you, focusing on it day after day will help it take root in your life, grow, and flourish.
  • Stack Rank Your Life
    • Make a list of the big things that matter in your life - high level, without too much details.
    • Choose the one most important thing - most meaningful or what needs the most effort or work.
    • 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.
  • Batch the Little Stuff : Once-in-a-while tactic, a way of dealing with the necessary chores and tasks that otherwise invade our days.
  • The Might-Do List-->Highlight-->Calendar. To-do lists also can obscure what’s really important but they let you see everything in one place.
  • The Burner List - intentionally limited list.
    • Divide a sheet of paper into two columns - front and back.
    • Put your most important project on the front burner - one and only one, list the to-dos for that.
    • Leave some counter space.
    • Put your second most important project on the back burner - list the related to-dos.
    • Make a kitchen sink - halfway down the right, remaining items.
  • Run a Personal Sprint - Make Time for Your Highlight.
  • Schedule Your Highlight- Calendar. Think about how much time you want and when you want for your Highlight.
  • Block Your Calendar. 
    • Use daily “do not schedule” blocks to make room for your Highlight.
    • Play offense, not defense.
    • Don’t be greedy.
    • Take it seriously.
  • Bulldoze Your Calendar - Reduce the time for meetings or batch them all to a single day.
  • Flake It Till You Make It - Bail out if you are over-scheduled.
  • Just Say No - be nice but honest.
  • Design Your Day: Cal Newport's design-planned, actual, revised.
  • Become a Morning Person
    • Start with Light, Coffee, and Something to Do.
    • Design the Nights Before.
  • Nighttime Is Highlight Time
    • Recharge First
    • Go Offline
    • Don’t Forget to Wind Down
  • Quit When You’re Done


Create Barriers to Distraction: The best way to defeat distraction is to make it harder to react.

Be the Boss of Your Phone:

  • Try a Distraction-Free Phone
    • Delete social apps.
    • Delete other Infinity Pools.
    • Delete email and remove your account.
    • Remove the Web browser.
    • Keep everything else.
  • Log Out: Adding friction is the key to avoiding Infinity Pools and staying in Laser mode. Set annoying passwords and log out from everything.
  • Nix Notifications.
  • Clear Your Homescreen.
  • Wear a Wristwatch (to stop checking phone for time).
  • Leave Devices Behind.

Stay Out of Infinity Pools

  • Skip the Morning Check-In - Stay away early in the morning.
  • Block Distraction Kryptonite - Stay away from your major distraction.
  • Ignore the News
  • Put Your Toys Away - Close all tabs.
  • Fly Without Wi-Fi
  • Put a Timer on the Internet
  • Cancel the Internet
  • Watch Out for Time Craters - One tweet resulting in multiple checks.
  • Trade Fake Wins for Real Wins - Tweeting something vs working on project.
  • Turn Distractions into Tools : Keep the good useful apps.
  • Become a Fair-Weather Fan : Do not spend too much time on sports following up with every single thing that's happening with your favorite team.

Slow Your Inbox

  • Deal with Email at the End of the Day
  • Schedule Email Time
  • Empty Your Inbox Once a Week
  • Pretend Messages Are Letters
  • Be Slow to Respond
  • Reset Expectations
  • Set Up Send-Only Email
  • Lock Yourself Out

Make TV a “Sometimes Treat”

  • Don’t Watch the News
  • Put Your TV in the Corner
  • Ditch Your TV for a Projector
  • Go à la Carte Instead of All-You-Can-Eat
  • If You Love Something, Set It Free : Go without this for a month and see how much you have accomplished without it - to realize how much you really want this back.

Find Flow

  • Shut the Door
  • Invent a Deadline
  • Explode Your Highlight
  • Play a Laser Sound Track - same music for a project.
  • Set a Visible Timer
  • Avoid the Lure of Fancy Tools
  • Start on Paper

Stay in the Zone

  • Make a “Random Question” List : that come to your mind when focusing on a project.
  • Notice One Breath
  • Be Bored
  • Be Stuck
  • Take a Day Off
  • Go All In

Energize, Reflect strategies and Book Review in next post.


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