Making time for what matters | Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (Authors of Make Time, Character VC)

Making time for what matters | Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (Authors of Make Time, Character VC)

About Jake and John (00:00:00)

  • Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky are the authors of the books "Sprint" and "Make Time".
  • They have helped over 300 teams design and launch new products, including teams at YouTube, Slack, Gusto, and One Medical.
  • They previously worked at Google Ventures and Google, where they held leadership positions.
  • They currently run a venture capital firm called Character VC and have opened applications for their accelerator program, Character Labs.
  • The Highlight is the most important moment of your day when you have your peak attention and use it well.
  • It doesn't happen every day, but with intention, it can occur more frequently.
  • The Highlight is the anchor, core, and foundation of a good day, even if other things are messy.

Recording the audiobook for Make Time (00:04:10)

  • Recording the audiobook for Make Time was an enjoyable experience for Jake and John.
  • It took two days to complete the recording, which was less time than they had anticipated.
  • They found the process to be satisfying and were able to get into an intense zone of focus while recording.
  • They believe that recording the audiobook together made the experience more enjoyable.

What people often get wrong when trying to become more productive (00:06:06)

  • Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, authors of "Make Time" and "Sprint," discuss productivity and time management.
  • Their book shares lessons from their work with startups and their own experiments with applying those lessons to their daily lives.
  • They believe that the key to productivity is not about doing more things, but about making time for what truly matters.
  • Many people struggle to make time for what matters due to default settings in our lives that prioritize efficiency over what truly matters.
  • To change this, we need to prioritize the most important things first and build our day around them.

The busy bandwagon and infinity pools (00:11:24)

  • The "busy bandwagon" refers to the societal expectation that everyone should be busy.
  • This expectation can lead to stress and overwhelm.
  • "Infinity pools" are endlessly replenishing sources of content or entertainment that can be highly addictive.
  • The combination of the busy bandwagon and infinity pools can create a flywheel effect that leads to feeling constantly busy and overwhelmed.
  • To break free from the busy bandwagon and infinity pools, it's important to understand and change the defaults that drive our behavior.
  • Defaults can be cultural, internal, or a combination of both.
  • By deliberately changing our defaults, we can put our most important projects, people, and work first.

Real talk: Jake and John’s productivity levels (00:15:22)

  • The key to productivity is creating space for important, non-urgent tasks (Project A tasks) and having a framework to return to and build on.
  • Project A tasks are big, not easy to start, slow to create dopamine hits, and non-urgent.
  • Tasks that stand in the way of Project A tasks are small, medium-sized, obvious to start, create dopamine right away, and supposedly urgent (e.g., emails, meetings, social media, OKRs).
  • It's not necessary to follow all productivity advice; finding one or two things that work and implementing them consistently can make a big difference.
  • Don't feel like you're failing if you're not doing everything discussed.
  • Keep trying and experimenting with what works for you.

The four-part framework for getting more done: Highlight, Laser, Energize, Reflect (00:20:10)

  • The four-part framework for productivity includes identifying the most important and satisfying task (the "Highlight") for the day, scheduling a 60-90 minute block of time for it, using tactics to focus and pay attention during the Highlight, and ensuring you have the necessary energy for the Highlight through sleep, food, and exercise.
  • The Highlight should be something that brings joy or satisfaction, not just urgent tasks.
  • The goal is to find the tactics that work best for each individual, rather than using all 87 tactics in the book.
  • Focusing on completing one important task that you're proud of, rather than getting distracted by easy tasks, can lead to more productive days.
  • Highlights are the most impactful part of the framework.
  • Jake Knapp's highlights are usually focused on creative work and making progress on important projects.
  • Highlights can help VCs, who are often very busy, to make progress on important projects and gain a unique edge.
  • The calendar component is an important element of the Highlight.
  • Jake Knapp uses the calendar to schedule time for his highlights.
  • Scheduling time for highlights helps to ensure that they get done.

Designing your day with a calendar (00:28:08)

  • Use a calendar as a canvas to design how you want to spend your time, rather than letting it control you.
  • Protect your focus time, usually the first half of the day before lunch, and use it to work on your most important task.
  • Use your calendar as a to-do list, as it reflects where your time is going.
  • Create a calendar template with specific time blocks for different types of activities, such as focus work and meetings.
  • Reclaim control over your calendar and use it proactively as a tool to structure your time around your priorities.

The Groundhog Day mentality (00:30:52)

  • The Groundhog Day philosophy encourages the idea that it's acceptable to repeat tasks until they are perfected, viewing each day as an opportunity for improvement.
  • Instead of feeling unproductive, it's more beneficial to be curious about the reasons behind your actions.
  • Scheduling everything, including daily routines, using a calendar can provide a clearer understanding of time management.
  • Be flexible and adjust your schedule based on what works best for you, respecting your intuition about how to spend your time.
  • Prioritizing what truly matters can lead to increased satisfaction and positive outcomes.

Tactical advice for implementing the highlight method (00:35:10)

  • To select a daily highlight, choose the task that will bring you the most satisfaction or joy.
  • Highlights can be categorized into three types: urgency, satisfaction, and joy.
  • Trust your intuition and pick a highlight that aligns with your daily needs.
  • Write your highlight on a Post-it note or add it to your calendar during your designated focus time.
  • Focus time may vary based on your energy levels and the nature of the highlight.
  • Highlights can also serve as pressure release valves, allowing you to relax and take care of yourself.

An example of a failed highlight (00:39:30)

  • Writing down your highlights and goals makes them more concrete and meaningful.
  • Prioritize urgent and satisfying tasks, even if they're not directly related to your main project.
  • Reframe your perspective to focus on what truly matters and brings joy, rather than just completing tasks.
  • Balance productivity with personal moments for a more fulfilling day.
  • Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, authors of "Make Time," emphasize the importance of making time for what truly matters.
  • Be intentional about your time and avoid distractions and busywork.
  • Create a "Highlights" list to identify the most important tasks and activities each day.
  • Set aside specific time blocks for focused work, relaxation, and personal time.
  • Acknowledge and fix mistakes when they occur.

Step 2: Laser (00:48:08)

  • Willpower alone is not enough to stay focused.
  • Create barriers to getting distracted.
  • Disable social media feeds and apps on your devices.
  • Log out of social media sites on your computer.
  • Use two-factor authentication for all accounts.
  • Reverse engineer your own distractability.

Creating intentional friction to avoid distractions (00:51:12)

  • Recognizing excessive time spent on specific apps and considering temporary uninstallation to reset habits.
  • Maintaining productivity without constant technological access.
  • Being aware of technology's impact on relationships and making necessary adjustments.
  • Deleting distracting apps, especially those with infinite content like social media and news, to enhance focus and reduce distractions.
  • Experiencing a sense of relief and improved focus when removing distracting apps, outweighing the discomfort of not having instant access.
  • Understanding the concept of "attention residue," where certain things we focus on can linger in our minds, causing discomfort.
  • Acknowledging potential sacrifices, such as reduced responsiveness and fewer social media followers, when removing distracting apps, but recognizing the greater benefits of reduced anxiety and increased focus.

Curating a distraction-free phone (00:57:28)

  • To reduce distractions, identify and delete attention-consuming apps like Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.
  • Avoid having a TV in the main living space and use a projector instead to make watching something a more deliberate choice.
  • Keep the phone out of the bedroom and away from the charging station to prevent using it before sleep.
  • Create physical barriers to accessing devices by putting them in a drawer or cabinet or placing them in a designated charging area outside the bedroom.
  • Use tools or apps to manage device usage, such as setting limits or enabling do not disturb mode.
  • Delegate content consumption to a trusted individual who can share highlights or important information, reducing the need for constant personal engagement.
  • Embrace the idea that not staying up-to-date with all news and entertainment is acceptable, as truly important information will find its way to you.
  • Tim Ferriss suggests waiting for people to tell you what you need to know, rather than constantly seeking information.
  • Deleting social media for a week can help you realize that you don't need to be constantly connected.
  • News about Trump is often repetitive and inconsequential, so it's not necessary to follow it daily.
  • Reading a weekly news magazine like The Economist can provide a concise summary of important events.

Resetting expectations and slowing your inbox (01:07:58)

  • To improve focus, communicate your email checking frequency to others and check your email less frequently.
  • Create an environment conducive to focused thinking by considering canceling the internet at home or in a dedicated workspace, setting a timer or using software to turn off the internet at specific times, and finding places without Wi-Fi to work or relax.
  • If you can't bear to delete distracting apps, leave your phone at home.
  • Visualize the important task as a sandwich 5-10 feet away and the distractions as candy right in front of you, pushing the distractions far enough away so that the important task becomes the easier choice.

Systems over willpower (01:14:51)

  • Relying solely on willpower to resist distractions is ineffective.
  • Set up systems to prevent distractions rather than relying on willpower.
  • Willpower is undermined by social media, news, and email.
  • Constantly reacting to external stimuli makes one a "reaction machine" and hinders meaningful work and personal fulfillment.
  • Experiment with different approaches to avoid living life as a "chatbot."
  • Feeling bad, even while being productive, is an important factor to consider.

Managing email distractions (01:18:14)

  • Mailmanhq.com is an app that can be used to shut off Gmail for specific periods of time.
  • Batching the release of emails can make a significant difference in reducing distractions.

Step 3: Energize (01:18:49)

  • Energize is a booster to Laser, which helps improve focus and attention.
  • Our brains and bodies are connected, and our ability to focus and pay attention depends on our overall well-being.
  • It's important to pay attention to what works and what doesn't regarding our health and energy levels and experiment with different strategies to find what works best.
  • Sleep is the most important factor in creating energy.
  • Creating an environment that allows for quality sleep is crucial, such as avoiding screens in the bedroom and wearing an eye mask.
  • Regular exercise is a significant source of energy, and having accountability and a structured schedule can help maintain a consistent workout routine.

Step 4: Reflect (01:22:05)

  • Reflection involves looking back on the day without judgment, treating it as an experiment.
  • A simple way to reflect is to write down your highlight for the day or the next day and review it at the end of the day.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal can help focus on positive aspects of the day.
  • Reflect on the connection between your hopes and what actually happened, identifying what helped or hindered your progress.
  • Curiosity about your day is more beneficial than self-judgment.
  • The book "Make Time" provides a comprehensive guide to implementing these strategies.
  • Experiment with different techniques and see what works best for you.
  • Try writing down your daily highlight, having conversations about slowing down, and reducing the number of apps on your phone.
  • The goal is to create more time for what truly matters to you.

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