7 June 2021, 09:24

on making time

When I stumbled across the book Make Time and realised it was from the same two behind SPRINT. I thought I'd give it a read. These are my notes...

The main premise is about how to slow time and take a step back and make more time for the things you care about. The book is broken into four main sections.

There is more to life than increasing in speed. ~ Gandhi


  • We are too busy with busy work.
  • We are too distracted.
  • The book is not about being more productive or outsourcing life.
  • It is about creating more time for the things you care about.

Modern Life:

  • Busy Bandwagon: The pressure to stay busy, check emails, do to-dos, fill calendars.
  • Infinity Pools: The reward for being busy, the streams or media, Netflix, Instagram, Facebook.

These are detrimental to time. These two concepts have become the western worlds defaults and if we don't change them they will become ours as well.

These defaults are everywhere and in every aspect of our lives and we must actively fight against them.

Busy > Distraction > Time. If we are busy we get pulled to distraction.

Will power is not the way out. Being more productive doesn't help either, the faster you run on the hamster wheel the faster it spins. So how do get off the wheel?

  • Stop reacting mindlessly
  • Make your own defaults
  • Choose what you do with your attention (attention is extremely powerful and valuable)

It's about making time not saving time.

Daily Exercise:


  • Choose a thing you want to get done
  • This can be anything, work or personal
  • Can involve multiple steps


  • Employ tactics to stay focused
  • Avoiding distraction
  • Stop reaction cycle


  • Employ tactics to stay energised to make laser mode easier
  • Use the body to recharge the brain


  • Look back on the day and see what worked and what didn't
  • Adjust and improve the daily system

This is an easy heuristic to how to approach each day in the pursuit of more time. The book then goes on to lost a number of tactics for each section and encourages the reader to Pick, Test, Repeat and see what works for each section. The goal is not monastic following the principles but taking the tools and tactics and making them work within your lifestyle. The authors also emphasis the importance of starting each day clean.

The best tactics are one that fit into your day and not those that are forced.


We do not remember days we remember moments

When I reflect on the day what will bring me the most joy?


  • Fun
  • Work
  • Urgent

Pick any one depending on what you want to do.

60-90 minutes to do something meaningful.

Highlights are flexible, make them adjust to your life and unforeseen happenings.


Write it down

Groundhog it (do yesterday again)

Stack rank your life

- Make a list of the big things in your life
  Categories: Health, Finance, Personal Growth, Work, Personal. 3-10 things
- Choose the one important thing (not the most urgent)
- Choose ranks 2-5
- Rewrite the list in order
- Circle number one
- Use this list to choose highlights

Batch the little stuff

- Bundle up the small tasks and do them all in the 60-90 session
- Catch up all at once
- Not a daily highlight
- This make ignoring smaller things easier and you know you can bundle them

The Might do list

- To-do list are reactions to other peoples priorities (normally)
- Good way to capture things to do
- A list of things that you might do
- Move from might do to highlight
- Avoids staying busy on the easy stuff

The Burner list

- Intentionally limited
- Make two columns one represents the front burner and one represents the back burner
- one project in the front burner, then make sub tasks that need to be done to make it happen (leave space to allow focus)
- second most important in the back burner. Doesn't get as much attention
- bottom half of front burner is the kitchen sink that holds important but miscellaneous tasks
- burn through list and then repeat

The Personal Sprint

- Keep at the same highlight for seven days in row and make it easier to get back in the groove for that project
- day 3 or 4 is the zone

Schedule your highlight

- Estimate highlight time
- When to do it
- Schedule it and commit

Block your calendar

- Block areas of calendar where people can not schedule things

Bulldoze your calendar

- Compress items in calendar as much extra time as possible
- Reduce times of meetings

Flake it until you make it

- Cancel low priority things you do not need to go to

Just say no

- No half choices
- Positively say no "Can't do it, but these guys might like it"

Design your day

- Structure your day by half hours
- Adjust in each daily `Make Time` cycle
- Predictable schedule
- Redesign as the day goes on if you need two

Become a morning person

Nighttime is highlight time

Quit When your done

- Draw a line and stop when you can't handle anymore
- Find a finish time


Laser mode is high focus mental activity to get the most out of the highlight stage. It involves eliminating distractions and focusing attention.

and yet it would be a relief in a way, not to be bothered with it anymore. Sometimes I have felt it is like an eye looking at me. I found I couldn't rest without in my pocket. ~ Bilbo Baggins


Distraction free phone

- Remove email, apps, browser


- No auto login to make it hard and therefore intentional to good to applications

Nix notifications

- Make apps not send push notifications

Clear home screen

- no apps on home screen

Wear a wrist watch

- Don't need to look at phone

Leave devices behind

- Put in a drawer or at work

Skip the morning check-in

- Don't look at phone first thing in the morning

Block distraction cryptonite

- Remove the app you spend most time on
- Don't go to that forum on channel you find yourself frittering time on

Ignore the news

Put your toys away

Fly without WiFi

Timer on the internet

Cancel the internet

Watch out for time craters

Trade fake wins for real wins

Turn distractions into tools

Become a fair weather fan


Deal with Email at the end of the day

Schedule email time

Empty inbox once a week

Pretend messages are letters

Be slow to respond

Reset expectations

Setup send only email

Vacation off the grid

Lock yourself out


Make TV a sometimes treat

Don't watch the news

Put TV in the corner

Ditch TV for projector

Go A La Carte instead of All you can eat

Find Flow

Shut the door

Invent a Deadline

Explode your Highlight

Play a laser soundtrack

Set a visible timer

Avoid the lure of fancy tools

Start on paper

Stay in the zone

Make a random question list

Notice one breath

Be bored

Be stuck

Go all in


Exercise everyday but don't be a hero

Pound the pavement

- Walk more

Inconvenience yourself

Squeeze in a short workout

Eat real food

Eat like a hunter gatherer

Central park your plate

Stay hungry

Snack like a toddler

Dark chocolate plan

Optimise caffeine

Wake up before you caffeinate

Caffeinate before you crash

Take a caffeine nap

Maintain altitude with green tea

Turbo Highlight

Learn last call

Disconnect sugar

Go of the grid

Get Woodsy

Trick yourself into meditating

Leave headphones at home

Take real breaks

Make it personal

Spend time with your tribe

Eat without screens

Sleep in a cave

Make your bedroom a bed room

Sneak a nap

Don't jet lag yourself

Put on your own oxygen on mask first


Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.

The Scientific method:

Observe what is going on

Guess why things are happening the way they are

Experiment to prove hypothesis

Measure the results

Highlight Hypothesis

If you sent a single intention for each do you will be more joyful because of it.

Laser Hypothesis

If you create barriers around the busy bandwagon and the infinite pools you will be able to focus

Energise Hypothesis

If you live more like a prehistoric human you will have more energy

You are a sample size of one.

Take notes to track results. Answer these questions:

  • What was my highlight today?
  • Did I make time for it?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 how focused did I feel?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 how much energy did I have?
  • Which tactic did I try and which will I try again?
  • Whats a moment I'm grateful for?

If you fail, use the notes to track and tweak what works for your lifestyle.Not a big deal.

Automate highlight choosing and notes taking at night.

Small shifts can create big results. You're already close. Start your someday project.

Quick Start Guide


Schedule your highlight


Block distraction cryptonite


Pound the pavement

For three days straight take some notes and take it from there.

Further Reading

  • Happiness Project
  • Brain rules
  • The Distracted Mind
  • Deep Work
  • Four Hour Work Week
  • Getting Things Done
  • How to Have a Good Day
  • The Power Of Moments
  • Head-space
  • The Power of Habit
  • Mindset
  • In Defense of Food
  • Sapians
  • Irresistible
  • humanetech.com
  • Hooked
  • Your Money or Your Life
  • A Guide to the Good Life
  • As long as It's Fun
  • The Living
  • On Writing

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