Free To Focus Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Free To Focus will make you more productive by identifying why your understanding of the definition of efficient work is flawed, how to fix it, and how to have the confidence to say no to distractions and work that isn’t worth your time.

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Last week I tried a new productivity experiment. I’ve had my fair share of good and bad days efficiency-wise, but nothing like what happened the last few days. 

Rather than letting myself get distracted, I committed to pushing myself to get all of my work done before noon. It seems like a pretty generic promise of productivity to myself, but that wasn’t all I did. I also promised myself to rest in the afternoon.

Once all my work was done, I actually felt free to do what I enjoy without the mental burden of unfinished work tasks. My rest was significantly more efficient, which made it even easier to work harder the next morning, creating a virtuous cycle.

What’s more, my morning efforts actually felt more freeing because I said no to distractions and unimportant tasks. 

As my tracking system showed, my productivity shot through the roof compared to previous weeks. 

The power of focusing hard on the right things at the right times and then resting is exactly what you’ll learn in Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less

Here are 3 of the best lessons I got from this one:

  1. Trying to get faster is making you less productive.
  2. You’ll become more effective at work if you schedule and protect your leisure time.
  3. The most efficient people know that every yes has a no behind it and have the courage to deny unimportant requests.

Are you ready for your productivity to take off like never before? Let’s dive in and find out how!

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Lesson 1: You’re less productive when you try to work faster, but you can change your mindset toward productivity to fix this.

Do you ever feel like your work life is like a leaky boat? Between meetings, reports, and projects, you’ve got an endless stream of tasks coming in and can’t ever seem to stay afloat. 

Every time you try to get water out of the boat more comes in. If only you could work faster, you think. But aiming for speed alone only lowers your productivity. When you try to go faster you waste any extra time you get by just adding more to your already too busy schedule. 

What’s worse, you might have the misguided notion that working overtime will make things better. You might make the excuse that it’s only temporary. The reality is, working extra hours makes you far less productive. 

Jack Nevison discovered this when he put together the results of many significant studies on work. The science showed that people that put in more than 55 hours a week are less productive than those who work less than 50.

What you really need is a new outlook. Rather than aiming for effectiveness, you should shoot for freedom, both to focus and to relax. 

Freedom to focus is when you give yourself time for the deep work needed to accomplish your most important tasks. It’s draining and you can’t do it for very long, but that’s why the freedom to do nothing is so important.

The more efficient your rest is, the more productive you will be during work.

Lesson 2: Schedule and protect your leisure time if you want to become more effective at work.

Your brain takes up 20% of your body’s energy. When you use it to work hard, you drain your mental and physical battery just like the battery on your phone. 

Knowing this it’s easy to see why your natural habit of cutting down on recreation when work gets busy is so bad. Still, some of us have the mistaken idea that energy is the same throughout the day and that time is flexible.

The truth is, neither of these vital resources is infinite. Instead, learn and take advantage of the fact that you get your best work done in the morning.

And you might have been taught that rejuvenation is a waste of time, but it’s one of the core pillars of a truly productive life. 

Sleep is the first principle of recovery that is vital if you want to get the freedom to focus. When you’re sleep deprived you are worse at problem-solving, focusing, and decision-making.

You also have a harmful tendency to cut your social life short when your schedule fills up. But when you nurture your relationships, you strengthen your emotional well-being, which boosts your energy, motivation, and mental health. And your productivity too.

Although it might feel inefficient, play is another vital component of restoring energy. Schedule a regular time to do what you enjoy just for the sake of it.

Lesson 3: Get the courage to say no to what’s not important and look for the hidden “no’s” behind every “yes.”

One of my favorite questions in Michael Stanier’s The Coaching Habit is “if you say yes to this, what are you saying no to?” It’s a vital productivity tool because it uncovers the “no” that we can’t see in everything we say yes to.

This is a key fact that everyone around you that seems to be so much more productive than you knows about. And they maintain the ability to deny unnecessary tasks and unimportant requests. 

That’s because they understand the time and energy drain hidden in these un-priorities. These efficiency gurus recognize that they can’t add more time to their schedule, so they protect it with the power of no.

Imagine a coworker asks for your help on a project one night but you’ve planned a workout that evening. All you have to do is say that you’ve got an appointment and leave it there. This is true because the appointment is an important one with yourself!

You can also use rituals to protect your time. Establish morning routines to help you focus on your most important goals. At night, set up a pattern of accountability for the day and preparation for the next day to set yourself up for success.

Free To Focus Review

And Michael Hyatt smashes it out of the park again! Free to Focus is an amazing book that I’m very happy I know about now. I especially love how it’s aimed at being more reasonable by explaining that productivity is more about how we balance our time than merely working harder, longer, or faster.

Who would I recommend the Free To Focus summary to?

The 54-year-old business executive who is always busy, the 28-year-old that just got their first full-time job out of college but has a hard time focusing, and anyone that wants to learn how to become more productive without beating themselves up.

Last Updated on September 8, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.