Make Time Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Make Time is about creating space in your life for what truly matters using highlights, laser-style focus, energizing breaks, and regularly reflecting on how you spend your most valuable asset.

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Our calendars are always full, but do we always feel fulfilled? For most of us, the answer is no. Even if you enjoy your work, which is a big issue on its own, it’s very easy to slowly fall into the trap of busyness, time and again.

Add to that the second workweek most of us spend interacting with and consuming media, and you have a schedule that’ll always leave you worn out come Sunday. Despite really loving their jobs, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky also suffered from this problem. The solution they came up with was as simple as it was effective: Make Time.

By deliberately creating space in their lives for the projects they really wanted to tackle, eliminating distractions, and prioritizing their health, they turned unmindful reactiveness into mindful proactivity.

Here are 3 lessons to help you do the same:

  1. Pick a highlight for every one of your days that’s either important, meaningful, or brings you joy.
  2. Minimize distractions from both work and fake entertainment by designing your environment.
  3. Do some of the things your ancestors would have done each day to stay healthy and full of energy.

Let’s stop spending time, especially without meaning to, and start making it!

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Lesson 1: Make an important, meaningful, or joyful activity the highlight task of your day, every day.

Passion projects, family fun, learning new things in your spare time, none of these magically meander into your life. They’re the things that get left by the wayside unless we deliberately cultivate them. But because we want them to be big, we think they have to be.

As a result, we never start, as we don’t feel the little time we have is worth it. That couldn’t be more wrong. Spending anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes on a single activity that matters to you can give you an immense feeling of contentment. That’s what the authors call your highlight – and you should pick one each day. They distinguish three kinds of highlights:

  1. Important. What’s an absolutely necessary activity or project? From a client presentation to your kid’s soccer game, this should make you feel like you took care of your duties once you complete it.
  2. Meaningful. What will make you the most satisfied? Writing a page for your novel? Starting a market research group at work? This is about prioritizing something you technically don’t need to do, but really want to. It’s for yourself.
  3. Joyful. Sometimes, you need to just goof off to find your inner child again. Maybe it’ll be a massage, an hour of guitar lessons, or a spontaneous trip into the mountains. This highlight is for the soul.

You can choose a different highlight each day, but once you do and commit to making time for it, you’ll finally start moving towards what you really want in life.

Lesson 2: Design your environment to fight the Busy Bandwagon of work and the Infinity Pools of entertainment.

The authors group time wasters into two big categories: work and entertainment. Both exploit our tendency to react to external stimuli by default because that’s how our brains are wired.

First, there’s the Busy Bandwagon of work, on which new tasks appear quicker than we can take care of existing ones. Second, Infinity Pools of entertainment want to suck us into their endless spirals of mostly meaningless content in order to monetize our attentionDoing ever more and improving our willpower isn’t enough, we need to redesign our environment to minimize distractions.

When it comes to ensuring laser-focus on your highlight, here are some things you can do:

  • Delete social media and email apps from your phone.
  • Log out of social media accounts online to give yourself more time to consider using them when you go there.
  • Check the news once a week instead of multiple times a day.

There are many more steps you can take, from changing triggers to avoiding cues, but implementing the above is a great start.

Lesson 3: Sprinkle caveman-style activities into your day to stay energized.

Humans have existed for 200,000 years. Our farming-based, mostly sedentary settler lifestyle, however, has only been around for about 12,000 of those. As a result, our bodies are somewhat out of sync with our societal activities and obligations. Getting this harmony back doesn’t have to be extreme. You don’t need to walk barefoot all the time and live in a cave.

All it takes is adding small bursts of primal behavior back into our day. This starts with a natural, light diet, where you don’t overindulge on fat, artificial foods. You can also adjust your sleep to be closer to the rhythm of daylight, focus on short, but high-quality social interactions, and ensure you walk 10,000 steps a day – or at least walk repeatedly during the day.

Once you implement little ways to maintain your natural state of being energized, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to follow through on your highlight each day and not get distracted by outside interruptions. And that’s the whole point of making time, isn’t it?

Make Time Review

Make Time may be another addition in a long line of books about time management, but it teaches the subject in creative ways. First, it delivers a simple, fundamental approach in four steps: highlight, laser, energize, reflect, three of which we addressed. Second, it combines this with 87 tactics from which you can and should pick, acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all advice. Third, it wraps everything into a story that gives you clear labels to identify heroes and villains by. Well done, J & J!

Who would I recommend the Make Time summary to?

The 33-year-old young professional, who sometimes gets lost in her work in a bad way, the 48-year-old father, who’d love to spend more time with his kids, and anyone who’s had a passion project stuck in their drawer for ages.

Last Updated on August 22, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!