[book report] Make Time


This is the new book by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky — ex of Google Ventures and the people behind the popular GV Design Sprint method (I’m not comfortable calling them inventors as I’m pretty sure that IDEO and others did something *really* similar before).

I’m a fan of design sprints and their book Sprint so I was up for giving this a look. Also I’m trying audio books again and it seemed like a good option.

There is a lot to like in this book which is basically about using different tactics to reprogram your attitude to how you spend your time every day in order to find more time to concentrate on whatever it is that is most important to you.

There is also a LOT that is annoying and just highlights a level of privilege that even makes someone as privileged as me irritated.

I like their introduction about the concepts of the Busy Bandwagon (the ‘productivity’ culture we are all sucked into these days) and the Infinity Pools (all those apps and services on our devices that contain infinite distractions.) There is a certain irony in two former senior designers from Gmail and Youtube telling us about the evils of spending too much time on these services but at least they own up to it!

They break down their ‘system’ into four steps:

Highlight — pick a real, achievable but stretch goal, every day. Make it public/open. Don’t be afraid to occasionally have a pragmatic ‘highlight’ (catch up on emails..)

Laser — use the tactics they suggest to protect the time to actually deliver on that ‘highlight’ (it being important enough to you that you will make this happen)

Energise — honestly I ended up skipping this — it is a bunch of diet and exercise nonsense that I don’t need in my life. Living more healthily in order to have more energy to live a better life I 100% agree with — I might have made a change or two in that direction — but I’m not going to take advice from a couple of Silicon Valley types on this topic.

Reflect — monitor and analyse your approach. Double down on what it working. Discard what isn’t. There is no ‘right’ way. Just a bunch of ideas, tactics and tools. Make it work for you.

There are a few things I’m going to take away from it immediately.

  • I have already turned off all notifications on my phone
  • Cleared the home screen and deleted a bunch of apps (not Twitter yet though.)
  • I’m going to try to set myself a daily ‘highlight’.
  • I’m going to try and have one night a week without any TV.
  • I’m going to time box my email.
  • I’m going to stop checking Twitter, email etc as soon as I get up.
  • I’m seriously considering moving to only checking the news once a week. (This seems impossible to be honest!)
  • I’m going to buy — and use — a Time Timer to get a better handle on my time boxing of things during the day (also it would be good for my workshops)

My broader goal for this is to see if I can free up time to finally write that book I’ve been dreaming about for years. Fingers crossed.