Make Time tip #1024: “Experiment with drugs”

Book review: "Make Time"

How the book pretty much said to experiment with drugs.

There isn’t a tip #1024 and the authors don’t recommend experimenting with drugs. In "Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day” the authors experiment with many life changing and mind altering theories and it wouldn’t have been a surprise had they recommended it. In fact, the audio book would have been far more interesting had it been narrated by the character Walter from the “Fringe”.

Walter from Fringe

I chose this book because I really like the author Jake Knapp. It’s co-authored by Jay Z, more on that later, but I knew nothing about him at the time. I learned about Jake and this book from an interview on the Design Better podcast. In the podcast he mentioned another book he wrote titled "Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days”. In that book he coins and defines the Design Sprint which is a process and project management system. Design nerds just gush about it, and it’s the next audio book on my list to listen to. He’s a credible guy and I really need to Make Time® on a side project so I picked it up.

The book delivered on my need to make more time for the side project. It left me with only a few take aways. They are small and simple, but as a whole they are really powerful. The writing style, however, really irked me. The book is a list of tips and each tip induced a cringing sneer and eye roll. There’s a lot of tips and it almost got to the point where I no longer wanted to put myself through the repetitive emotional abuse it caused. I had to take a couple days off from it. When I returned, I paused and took a deep breath (one of the tips) and the book was actually almost finished. I could see the light at the end and I powered through it.

Here’s the TL;DR version and my take on it:

  1. Turn off notifications on your phone. Most of them come from so called “infinity pools” and all they do is distract you and drain your energy.
  2. Repeat that process on your tablet, laptop, and watch.
  3. Stop following the news every day. Most news isn’t important to you no matter how much the busy band wagon wants you to think it is.
  4. After spending more time than you probably would have liked doing steps 1 and 2, you now get to start the fun process stuff by writing a highlight to focus on every day. A highlight is the one thing that will leave you feeling happy and accomplished at the end of the day should you spend time doing it.
  5. Every morning plan out your day around the highlight.
  6. Ensure the highlight is a task that can be done in an hour or less.
  7. If you are lucky to focus the entire work day on your highlight then make many smaller tasks to complete towards it.
  8. Before you write down the next days highlight, reflect in a journal about how well you spent your time working on the previous days highlight.

So why did the writing style irk me? It’ll be easiest to demonstrate by imagining you are Walter from the “Fringe”. Close your eyes and picture yourself floating in a weightless pitch black depravation chamber. The only sensory input you are receiving is the authors narration of the book. You are trying to free your mind from the tethers of the busy bandwagon and constant notifications from social media and the news. Your only focus is on the things that really matter to you and how you are going to make them the priority of your day.

Your mind is now aware that the pointless distractions from before made time feel linear and finite. Time now feels malleable and bendable to your will. It is all becoming clear and you can see your place in this universe. Just as you are about to reach ultimate clarity, the authors make a cute joke about something that is commonsensical. You think “why did they try to lighten the weight of reality when they speak of such profound ideas?”. Surely that was just a one off occurrence, let’s try and refocus our attention back to ultimate clarity. But wait, they did it again, and again. This format of telling you why a common sense thing that you are doing is bad followed by a cute joke that lightens its weight is repeated with every point they are trying to make. As you lay there the only thing you can focus on is why are they talking as if the reader has never contemplated the ramifications of how time is spent. Then it dawns on you, this book must be written for an audience who has never gone through the school of hard knocks.

Fully functioning adults who have worked many underpaid jobs and have had to claw out of its vicious cycle, won’t need a coat of sugar applied to every recommendation in this book. They know that life has compromises and there are times when you have to give up some of life’s pleasures. A privileged grad who has never had to work an underpaid job to pay for a crummy apartment probably needs a spoonful of sugar for that dose of reality to go down. As for me, if a lifestyle or habit is bad for making time for my side project then tell me straight and forgo the kid gloves.

Whichever one of those stereotypes applies most to you you will, however, get something out of this book. Whether it’s cringing or funny, it will change your life for the better.

Jay Z isn't the co-author, it's John Zeratsky and he goes by JZ. Maybe I'll get some google juice saying his name. JAY Z. There, now it's in all caps. That's good for SEO right?