A review of Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
Two “forces” compete for every minute of our lives: the busy bandwagon and infinity pools.
- The busy bandwagon operates because of our culture of constant busyness. Our full inbox, long todo lists, and full calendars combined with a need to keep up with others keeps our lives full.
- Infinity pools are apps and others sources of endlessly replenishing content. Think any social media app or Netflix queue.
- These two forces work hard to keep us from making time for what matters.
I’m often a sucker for a good productivity and business book, so when the smart folks at Amazon placed Make Time in my “Recommended For You” section, I bought it! The book is a great read for any time of year, but I think is especially timely as we settle into the new year. The authors, founders of Time Dorks, a popular newsletter about experiments in time management, spent years working for companies like Google, Google Ventures, and YouTube (maybe you’ve heard of those companies!). They wrote Make Time to help readers more intentionally design their work and home life.
The book focuses on a four-part framework you run through every day. I found the book to be convicting, practical, and encouraging. It made my list of Favorite Books I Read in 2018.
The four-part framework consists of the following steps:
- Highlight – Start each day by choosing a focal point. What is the one thing today I need/want to accomplish?
- Laser – Beat distraction to make time for your Highlight. This section helps us deal with the distractions we face so we can accomplish our daily highlight.
- Energize – Take care of your body to recharge your brain. If you can increase your energy every day then you have more to give to your highlight and focus.
- Reflect – Adjust and improve your system every day. This step helps the reader measure results and decide what to do next.
The book unpacks each part of the framework. The authors overview each step and then provide an abundance of practical suggestions to complete each step with success. My favorite part of the book is the creative, thorough list of suggestions and options each chapter provides. Through telling their own stories of wins and losses, Knapp and Zeratsky help the reader be intentional and focused on how to spend their time. I finished the book with a list of actions I want to implement to help me better manage my time. The suggestions I latched on to are all over the spectrum, from email to iPhones to sleep to eating.
They don’t shy away from challenging the reader on topics like phones and technology. At the same time, they live in the reality that tech challenges will only get tougher moving forward. The book is also fun to read, with cartoon sketches of the authors and illustrations of some of their points and suggestions. If you’re into audio books, then I’d also check out the audio version. Both authors read the book and alternate sections in the reading. I also appreciated how the authors weren’t afraid to disagree in their methods (i.e., morning person v. night owl).
I have very few critiques about the book.
- The book is not written from a Christian point of view. I don’t know the faith background of either, but I knew going in this wasn’t going to be a Christian book. I don’t agree with some of what they share and recommend. But if you go into the book knowing what to expect you won’t be disappointed! If you’re looking for a “productivity” book written by a follower of Christ, check out Do More Better by Tim Challies (you can read my review of this excellent book here) or What’s Best Next by Matt Perman.
- The last section, Reflect, was too short. I was hoping for some more practical suggestions on how to better review and reflect on my day so that I can improve my process moving forward. So often we don’t lack good info but rather the means through which to review what we’ve learned.
Who should read Make Time?
The audience for this book is anyone who wants help focusing on what matters every day. The sections on technology and distractions alone make this a great read for almost anyone. As mentioned above, this would be a great read starting the new year as it provides so many strong, practical tips to help get the right things done every day.
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