Make Time: Setting “Default” to “Focused” Mode for Life

In this blog post I share my learning from “Make Time – How to focus on what matters every day” by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky.

Changes do not require a lot of self-discipline. Instead, change comes from resetting defaults, creating barriers, and beginning to design the way you spend your time.

Make Time is just 4 steps, repeat everyday:

  • Start each day by choosing a focal point.
  • Beat distractions to make time for your highlight.
  • Use your body to recharge your brain.
  • Adjust and improve your system.

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

Highlight of the day

  • Something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goals.
  • When you are busy day after day, time slides by in a blur.
  • Slow down and actually experience the moments you want to savor and remember, rather than rushing through them just to get to the next item on your to-do list.
  • Set a daily highlight based on Urgency, Satisfaction, and Joy.
  • Schedule your highlights each day and bulldoze other events if you don’t find the time.

Laser Focus

  • Once you have decided your highlight, now is the time to focus.
  • Distraction is the enemy of laser mode. It is like a disco ball in front on the laser beam
  • The best way to defeat distraction is to make it harder to react.
  • Make your phone distraction free by deleting the infinity pool apps or logging out of them and only using them when required. That way you are using the phone intentionally and the phone is not using you.
  • Clear your home screen to add friction or a speed bump in your access to distractions.
  • Trade fake wins with real wins. Sharing tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram photos can create tune craters, that are fake wins.
  • Leave your devices away or put them off sight.


  • If you have energy, it is easier to maintain your focus and priorities and avoid reacting to distractions and demands.
  • In school we exercise our brain in classroom and body in gym and playground. In college our brain have to do more and the exercise is not part of the curriculum. When we start working full-time, our brains are still busier, calendar is full and taking care of the body is has become less convenient. We use every tool at our disposal the make the brain work more efficiently and keep the body on the sidelines.
  • If you want energy for you brain, you need to take care of your body.
  • Do 20 mins exercise each day and keep yourself moving
  • Consumes real food like fruits and vegetables and less of manufactured produce.
  • Optimize your caffeine intake. Wake up without drinking a coffee, take 2-3 cups in the day but not after evening so that it doesn’t mess up with your sleep.
  • Go off the grid, give yourself a quite time. Meditation is like a breather for your brain. Leave your headphones at home and take real break in the real world.


  • Fine-tune your days with a scientific method
    • Observer whats going on.
    • Guess why things are happening the way they are.
    • Experiment to test your hypothesis.
    • Measure the results and decide whether you were right.

What worked for me

There are a lot of other suggested tricks in the book which will help you with the above 4 steps of making each day better. I do recommend reading the book so that you can test those ideas yourself with time and develop the suitable habits.

There are few new things I started with after reading this book:

  • In a notion calendar I plan for each coming week on Sundays. I set a highlight for the day with the task of highest priority and list the other possible small tasks too. With notion I can create different views for the same calendar like a daily kanban board which helps me manage the ongoing day and a project wise task list to see where the things stand.
  • Walking 5kms daily. I know 5kms is not much but each early morning going to a garden with almost no one and enjoying the lush green ambience, fresh air, sun rise and the quietness is the best start of the day for me. Also I make sure not to put on any headphones but rather listen to the birds chirping and let different ideas flow in my mind.
  • I have already been consuming more fruits and water which definitely helps in staying active and somewhat happy all day.
  • I keep the phone away when I am working and all the devices away when I am reading.
  • Twitter and Youtube are no longer pinned in my browser.

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