Make Time & Focus On The Things That Matter Every Day

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Book Rating: 5/5

If you’re like most people, your to-do list is constantly growing. There are always more things to do than you have time for. But with a little daily planning and some strategic thinking (and maybe a few good habits), you can take control of your day and focus on what matters most.

Here are the things I’ve learned from the book “Make Time” by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky where they talked about how you can create time and focus on the things that matter every day.

How The Book Changed Me

“Make Time” made me realised that life is all about focusing on the things that matter. Having more clutter or “to-dos” makes you feel productive but in fact its the opposite.

It robs our time away with the things that matter and it really is inefficient as to how we do our work.

The solution is to block out a time and stay focused where we could sit down to do our best work, to accomplish a single task that we deem as important for the day before we move on to the things that really matter.

The author starts by laying out the framework of the book where they talk about 4 steps to get your time back in your day to day life.

These 4 steps ensures that you are intentional about how you spend your time so that you can regain control of your life.

1) Highlight

The first step is highlight.

You start each day by choosing your priority, the thing that you want to get done. Only choose a single activity to prioritise and protect in your calendar.

Ask yourself at the start of every day, “What’s going to be the highlight of my day”. This ensures that you spend your time on the things that matter to you and you don’t lose the entire day reacting to other people’s priorities.

Your highlight might be something you don’t necessarily have to do but want to do, like playing with your kids or reading a book.

Highlight Strategies

There are a few strategies you can adopt to help you in choosing your daily highlights.

Firstly, it’s about urgency, you need to look at the most important thing you have to do today. If you have something that really needs to be done, make it your highlight.

Secondly, think about satisfaction. Will you be happy and satisfied at the end of the day accomplishing this highlight?

Lastly, focus on joy. When you reflect at the end of the day, what will bring you the most joy?

Try to choose and limit your highlight that takes 60 – 90 minutes to accomplish. This ensures you are fully focused within this timeframe to complete your highlight without spending your time unintentionally (most activities can be done within this time).

I talked about this in my “Productivity Vs Efficiency” article about Parkinson’s Law.

Of course, your highlight will not be the only thing you do each day but it acts as a way to be proactive about how you spend your time. Once you’re done with your highlight for the day, you should feel accomplished.

2) Laser

The second step in the “Make Time” framework is Laser.

When it comes the time to start working on your highlight, you should be distraction free.

Make sure you limit your exposure to possible distractions such as social media, news, email or phone calls from your friends (unless it’s an emergency).

This step is crucial as it provides the opportunity for you to be fully focused on your work so that you can complete your highlight for the day (making you feel satisfied) in the shortest time possible without procrastinating and wasting the day away.

If you find yourself procrastinating a lot, take a look at this article for some strategies which you can implement immediately.

On the other hand, you can download the “Make Time” app which I use whenever I write articles to stay in this Laser mode.

It provides a 90-minute timer for you to visually see as it counts down. This makes you feel that time is running out and you’ll deem the task to be more important.

One quote from the book that summarises this section is

It’s like compound interest. The longer you remain focused on your highlight, the more engaging you’ll find it and the better work (or play) you’ll do.

3) Energize

In order to do your best work and highlights every day, you’ll have to take breaks frequently and find time to recharge.

By taking breaks, it does not mean using your phone and scrolling through Instagram or play video games.

Take real breaks by going out for a walk or talk to somebody. As the book frequently mentions, live like our prehistoric ancestors where they are fit and healthy, not by blankly staring at our phones but by moving our body and eating healthily.

Like it or not, you are what you eat. In order for your brain to fully focus and function throughout the day, it requires a healthy diet. The reason why many people feel exhausted at the end of the day may not be their work, but the food they consume during the day.

Relying on stimulations for your brain such as sugar and caffeine may make you feel energized for the time being but at the end of the day, it can be counter-productive which is not what you want as usually, what really matters to you begins after your work such as spending time with your family or on your hobbies.

Take some time to try different ways to “Energize” but refrain from going digital or eating unhealthily. You should see huge improvements fairly quickly in terms of how focus you can be in doing your work.

4) Reflect

Lastly, in order to focus on the things that matters, reflect on what works and doesn’t work for you.

Do you find yourself happier or more productive by completing highlights that are geared towards “urgency”?

Or do you feel more fulfilled by prioritizing joy as your highlight on doing things that makes you happy on most days?

How about the different ways to fully focus in laser mode? There are many ways out there you can try such as the Pomodoro technique to get yourself focused in completing the highlight.

At the end of the day, this framework acts as a guide for you to use your time intentionally. Ultimately, it requires you to try and discover the methods that works best for you.

With that, let’s make some time and go find yourself the best methods to try so that you can finally focus on the things that really matter.

My Top 3 Takeaways

Your Highlight might be something you don’t necessarily have to do but want to do, like playing with your kids or reading a book.

You only waste time if you’re not intentional about how you spend it.

When you have one ambitious but achievable goal, at the end of the day, you’re done. You can check it off, let go of work, and go home satisfied.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article!

In my first episode of “How They Did It”, I’ve interviewed Bing, the founder of NomadWatchWorks, TheNomad360 and BedTribe where he also shared a similar method on how he plans his highlight for the day so that he has time for his family and hobbies.

If it has helped you to focus on the things that matter in your life on a day to day basis, do let me know in the comments section as it’ll be really satisfying to know that I’ve helped someone.

See you in the next one!