Make Time | Jake Knapp

Summary of: Make Time: How to beat distraction, build energy and focus on what matters every day
By: Jake Knapp


What if there was a way to fight the constant distractions of our busy, modern world and focus on the things that really matter? In ‘Make Time’, authors Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky dive into the heart of the issue, revealing the main challenges we face: the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools. The Busy Bandwagon encourages endless to-do lists and scheduled commitments, while Infinity Pools, such as social media and streaming sites, absorb our attention and valuable time. This book summary aims to break you free from these time traps, through tactics aimed at creating daily highlights, maintaining focus, and building energy. Is it possible to regain control over your precious time? Prepare to reshape your life and foster the balance that’s essential in accomplishing your goals and staying connected to what truly matters.

Escaping the Time Destroyers

Our lack of time is self-imposed due to the Busy Bandwagon and the rise of Infinity Pools, which result in endless tasks and distractions. We spend four hours watching TV and another four hours staring at our smartphones per day. The question is, how do we escape? The answer will be explored in the following summary parts, looking at what not to do and what to do.

Do you often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do? The truth is, our lack of time is partly self-imposed. The culprits? The Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools. The modern mindset of constant productivity tells us to cram in as much work as possible, leading to an array of tasks, overflowing inboxes, and crammed calendars. On top of that, we have access to Infinity Pools – a never-ending source of digital content from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, and news websites. Their endless supply of information and entertainment proves to be a significant time waster. Statistics reveal that on average, we spend four hours watching TV and an additional four hours staring at our smartphones per day – the equivalent of a full-time job! The Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools have teamed up to become a tag-teaming duo of time destroyers, leading to endless tasks and distractions, leaving little room to do what we really want to do. However, there is hope! The following summary parts will explore how to escape the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools’ grasp, looking at what not to do and what to do.

The Fallacy of Productivity

The pursuit of productivity can lead to endless busyness, subordinating personal priorities, and postponing our own passions indefinitely.

In our modern world, we are bombarded with various organizational systems that promise increased productivity. However, the idea that doing tasks faster or more efficiently will lead to more spare time is flawed. The reality is that there is an endless stream of tasks that replace the completed ones. This leads to a cycle of endless busyness, which ironically only reinforces the same mentality that got us there in the first place.

Focusing on completing tasks as fast as possible is not only an unattainable goal but also places busyness on a pedestal. It also means deprioritizing oneself by prioritizing others’ tasks and projects. By following someone else’s priorities rather than our own, we end up losing time and energy for our own passions and projects, which we continue to postpone to “another day.”

In the end, chasing the carrot on the hamster wheel of productivity leads to exhaustion and even infinity pools of distraction. The fallacy of productivity is that it can take us further away from our true callings, and instead, we find ourselves stuck in the endless pursuit of busyness.

The Power of Infinity Pools

Our brains were wired instinctively to be distractible and fascinated by stories, social status, and unpredictable rewards. These predispositions made humans benefit from tracking sudden changes in the environment, learn from each other, and search for food. However, the expertly-designed Infinity Pools of today’s tech industry exploit these prehistorical instincts and overpower our resistance by churning through iterations of their irresistible apps. It is not the techies’ or executives’ fault as they are doing their jobs and competing fiercely. Therefore, we need strategies and tactics to avoid getting stuck in the Infinity Pool of distraction.

Breaking Free from the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools

Our automatic reactive behaviors have made us vulnerable to the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools. To regain control and mindfulness, we must shift from being reactive to proactive. This requires reprogramming our default settings and cultivating a mindful approach to professional demands and digital technologies.

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded by demands and distractions that make it difficult to stay focused and productive. The Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools are two major culprits that leave us feeling depleted and overwhelmed. However, the real source of their power lies within us – our unmindful reactivity to external stimuli.

Reactivity has become our default setting, akin to a phone’s pre-programmed notifications and ringtones. But just as we can reprogram our phones to better suit our needs, we can also reprogram our behavior to be more proactive and mindful. By doing so, we can avoid the traps of the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools and regain control of our lives.

To become more proactive, we must first identify our automatic reactive behaviors and consciously choose to respond differently. This requires a mindful approach to professional demands and digital technologies. Instead of mindlessly checking our email or social media, we can schedule time to engage with them intentionally.

In order to cultivate a more proactive mindset, it is also important to take breaks and practice self-care regularly. This helps us recharge and brings the necessary focus to our work tasks.

Overall, by shifting from reactive to proactive, reprogramming our default settings, and cultivating mindful behavior, we can break free from the Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools and regain control of our lives.

Mindfully Proactive Living

In the book “Make Time,” the authors compare the temptation to be distracted to the Sirens from Homer’s “Odyssey.” Odysseus proactively tied himself to the mast of his ship and put beeswax in his crew’s ears to avoid their bewitching voices. Similarly, the authors suggest creating barriers to prevent distractions and adopting a strategy molded to one’s specific personality. The strategy, highlighted, focuses, energizes, and reflects to find tactics that work for the individual to avoid wasting time on distractions. One example includes setting up a website blocker to avoid scrolling through social media mindlessly.

Finding Time in Your Busy Schedule

Being productive in completing short and long-term goals doesn’t solve the problem of being too busy. In fact, it can make things worse by feeding into the Busy Bandwagon. A solution is to focus on a daily highlight – a sustained activity or project that can serve as your guiding star as you navigate it. Instead of waiting until the end of the day to see what the highlight of your day is, come up with an answer ahead of time by tweaking the question slightly: What do you want the highlight of your day to be?

Three Approaches to Finding Your Daily Highlights

Discovering your daily highlights involves three approaches: urgency, satisfaction, and joy. To identify these highlights, you need to focus on tasks that take 60-90 minutes. Urgency highlights are more important than quick tasks for the day. Satisfaction highlights relate to the projects you want to work on but have procrastinated. Joy highlights involve doing something you enjoy that fills you with happiness. By choosing the right combination of these highlights, you can lead a proactive and fulfilled life.

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