Updated: Jan 25
Reviewing the book 'Make Time' by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky about how to make time for the things that matter in our lives.
I was slightly wary of this book at first, as I thought it might turn out to be a productivity manual of the ‘get up at 5am and squeeze as much as possible into your day’ variety, but I’d bought it on the recommendation of someone I trust so I decided to give it a go. I needn’t have worried, as in the opening chapter the authors stress that the book is not about doing more or doing it faster, and as they very succinctly put it: “the faster you run on the hamster wheel, the faster it spins.”
Instead, it’s about creating time in your day for the things that actually matter to you and avoiding the pitfalls of what they call ‘The Busy Bandwagon’ and ‘Infinity Pools’. The Busy Bandwagon consists of the endless tasks and to-do lists a lot of us face in our daily lives, the goal being to try to stay on top of it all and meeting everyone else’s priorities and expectations before our own. This often means that our days seem to pass by in a blur where we don’t really get to do what’s important to us, and those ‘someday’ projects which are aligned with our own dreams remain forever in the future. When we do temporarily step off of the Busy Bandwagon and get some down time, say in the evenings, our exhausted brains are lured into the endless distractions of Infinity Pools which are basically all forms of entertainment and distraction that social media and the internet offer up.
The framework for Make Time is pretty simple, which makes it appealing to anyone struggling to simplify and streamline their days. In essence, each day you decide the one thing that’s most important to you and that you want to prioritise and focus on: a ‘Highlight’. You schedule that time into your diary (around 60-90 minutes is recommended) and when the time comes to do the task you ‘Laser’ in on it, with all of your focus and no distractions. Your Highlight can be anything, it can be a personal project that’s really important to you but that you keep putting off or not finding the time for, so you would schedule that into your day or evening, whenever works best for you and fit your other commitments around it.
What I like about the book and the way it’s written is that the authors encourage you to pick a few tips and tactics and experiment with them, you don’t have to do everything they recommend and it’s not about overloading yourself further or being superhuman, which they fully admit they are not. It also allows for the fact that we are all different, you may be a morning person or an evening person in terms of energy levels and focus, so different tips and strategies will suit different people. There is also advice on energising your body to fuel your mind and a section on reflecting, which you can do at the end of each day, to see what worked best for you and decide where you can tweak things if necessary the next time. It is all presented in a nice, friendly style and broken down in a way that feels manageable and relatable and it’s very easy to read.
I also like that the authors have both worked as project designers within the tech industry and have inside knowledge about how Infinity Pools work and keep us hooked in and distracted. It’s re-assuring to know that they are not superhuman productivity gurus, just normal guys who struggle with the same distractions, lack of will power and motivation that we all do and that we can still enjoy and use technology without letting it rule us. I appreciated that the book doesn’t take an all-or-nothing approach, let’s you experiment with what works for you and offers plenty of scope in it's tips and tactics. If something doesn’t work for you or you feel you ‘messed up’, be kind to yourself and see each day as a chance to start anew and keep tinkering to find what works best for you.
If you want to get more intentional about your time and feel like your life is more in alignment with your goals and priorities and not everyone else’s then this book is definitely worth a read, and so to finish with a quote from the book:
“There is more to life than increasing it’s speed.” - Mahatma Gandhi