Make Time – Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky (Book Summary)

Have you ever wondered how to be more productive, do more work in less time, and stay laser-focused throughout the day?

Make Time is the best book on productivity and time management. Period.

It shows you literally tens of different powerful techniques and strategies you can leverage to get more work done without going nuts.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who struggles with time management and lack of concentration.

Why You Should Read Make Time?

  • To become way more productive
  • To master time management and increase personal effectiveness
  • To stay organized and start focusing on what matters most
Make Time

Make Time by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Check the book on Amazon or, browse my Top 10 Books

The Book in One Paragraph

Make Time’s framework is based on four major elements: Highlight, Lazer, Energize, and Reflect.

  • The Highlight element represents the time block you find in your busy schedule.
  • The Lazer element represents the tactics that will help you stay focused during your highlight block.
  • The Energize element represents tips that will help you stay in control of your time and attention.
  • The Reflect element represents the process of note-taking and making adjustments to your strategies.

By utilizing each of these elements you will be able to create much more time in your day for the things that actually matter to you. You will also find yourself more productive and energetic.

Lessons I Have Learned

  • Lesson #1: You have to find the time period during the day that will solely be devoted to the most important task.
  • Lesson #2: Eliminating distractions and setting yourself into the right mood are two sure ways for boosting your productivity and effectiveness.
  • Lesson #3: Exercising, meditation, and the right food can elevate your energy level dramatically.
  • Lesson #4: Journaling and writing down your daily tasks can help you tremendously in achieving success.
  • Lesson #5: It is crucial to review your strategies to find out what works and what doesn’t.

How The Book Changed Me

  • It helped me allocate a certain period of time for accomplishing my top-priority tasks.
  • It made me realize that time-management is simply a matter of prioritization, elimination, and focusing.
  • It encouraged me to try out numerous strategies outlined in the book.

Make Time Summary + Key Ideas

As you’ve already learned from the points above, Make Time is a kind of book that certainly has something to offer even to the most educated and sophisticated reader.

Down below, I’ve listed the most important ideas, concepts, and insights from the book that I hope you will find useful and helpful.

Let’s get started with the first key idea:

Key Idea #1: Choose the Single most important Task for the day (Highlight)

daily task management

This single advice lays the whole foundation for the rest of the book.

It is the priority you must do during the day. It can anything that resonates with you goals or life standards.

It is also not necessarily something you should do. It can easily be something that you want to do.

These top priority tasks can be:

  • Writing an article
  • Preparing the slides
  • Trying out a new workout
  • Playing with your kids
  • Drawing a sketch
  • And any other activities you find most important for any given day

Satisfacton plays huge role as well:

“At the end of the day, which Highlight will bring me the most satisfaction?”

The exact amount of time that you set for your highlight is paramount.

It should not be too short or too long. Not less than 60 minutes and not more than 90 minutes as you might lose your focus.

Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts.

  • Schedule your highlight. This one is obvious but usually overlooked step. If you are serious about finding the right time in each week day, you have to actually open your calendar and find the best possible time spots in it.
  • Morning or evening is preferable. It is because these are the time periods where you don’t usually get distracted by your coworkers and friends. It aslo depends whether you are a morning or evening person. My personal preference is early morning (5:00-6:30).
  • Do what is really important. It is easy to confuse reall work with productive procrastination. You can write down your to-do lists and detailed plans till the dusk and this will bring nothing to you. Decide which actions can bring you closer to your goals and get to work.
  • Say no to unimportant stuff. Like I said before, there usually too many things to do during the day. This is why lots of peope end up overwhelmed and unproductive. Apply the 80/20 principle and get rid of useless activities. Just forget about them once and for good.
  • Batch the small tasks. There are however some less important activites that still need to be done. To finish all of them and stay sane, the authors encourage you to batch those tasks.
  • Stop when you are done. Most of the time you will find yourself in such mood where you won’t wish to stop and move your rest time further ahead. Don’t do that. When the scheduled activite is done, your are done too. Take a break and relax. You deserved that.
  • Repeat it the next day. Consistency is the key in any endeavor. Your day highlight is not an exception. If you decide to devote a certain period of time for your maximum concentration, make sure you repeat it the next day, and the next day, and many more days. Make the habit stick.

In order to stay focud and consistent over time you need to feel fresh and energetic.

Meet the second key idea:

Key Idea #2: Eliminate distraction and Increase your productivity (Lazer)

work time producivity and focus

Now when you scheduled your highlight it’s equally important to stay very focused during this time. Otherwise this will just be a waste of time.

The strategies outlined in Make Time, will help you stay productive and laser-foced during your highlight block.

  • Avoid distractions. We live in the world of distractions. Noisy coworkers, constant phone calls, email notifications, twitter updates, you name it. The surest way to keep your mental state unshakeable and stay focused throughout the day it is vital to eliminate distractions.
  • Optimize your workspace. Keep it minimalistic. Cleap up your desk. Get rid of useless stuff. Put your phone on hold if necessary and turn of notifications.
  • Stay away from infinity pools. Those are social media networks, TV shows, Netflix, and alike. They suck your energy and attention like dementors and leave you helpless.
  • Make your phone and computer distraction-free. Remove all infinity pools apps from your phone and computer. Declutter the digital workspace. Keep only essential stuff. Avoid the temptation by moving all apps to the second and third screens.
  • Declutter your mind. Give your mind a break. Simple mediation will help your brain stay healthy and save you from burnout.
  • Create a deadline and set a visible time. This will put you into the right boundaries and create a constant push that will last till you are done. Make your deadline achievable. Set a timer.
  • Don’t forget to rest. If you work hard you deserve a good rest. Schedule break times during the day and especially right after your highlight block.

A time for rest is an inevitable part from the book’s third key idea, which is…

Key Idea #3: Recharge the brain by taking care of your body (Energize)

taking care of your body and health

When it comes to productivity and time-management, the one thing that should pop in your mind is energy.

If you have energy, it’s easier to maintain your focus and priorities and avoid reacting to distractions and demands.

Now, one of the surest ways to maintain high energy level throughout the day stay effective you need to take a full control of your brain and body.

The question arises:

How can we do that?

According to the authors of the book, we all should go back to the roots of human civilization for finding a great role model – the prehistoric homo sapiens.

See, for the last 200000 years or so nothing has changed in the way people lived, until now.

Our bodies and brains were not built for the world we live in now and our brains are certainly not wired for performing high-demanding tasks on a daily basis.

Fortunately, if we cultivate certain habits that were practiced by our ancestors it will help us stay more focused, alert, and productive.

What are those habits?

The Cavemen Lifestyle

  1. Be physically active. Constant movement is in our genes. Walk, swim, run, stretch, and follow other simple physical exercies to keep your body healthy and mind sharp.
  2. Eat real food. Processed food is not an option if you want to stay laser-fosused during your waking hours. Give your preference to plant-based food and starches. Drink more water and less soda.
  3. Optimize your caffeine intake. As a person who loves coffee I was very happy to find out that it is not necessary to remove it from my diet to stay healthy and productive. The only adjustements you need to make is to reduce your intake and avoid it after 5 pm.
  4. Stay alone for some time. Your brain will say thanks to you. So will your productivity. Practicing intentional solitude is also beneficial for you mental health.
  5. Maintain healthy social interactions. No matter how much of an introvert or extravert you are, it is important to spend some amount of time with other human beings. They can be your family members, friends, and pleasent coworkers.
  6. Make your bedroom your bed room. Remove the TV from it. Put your phone into flight mode. Use black out certains. Save your bedroom for only two activites – sex and sleep.

Now we get to the final key idea from the book:

Key Idea #4: Make adjustments and Improve your system (Reflect)

optimizing schedule

Now when you have your personal productivity system set up it’s time to make final adjustments and improvements to make you unstoppable.

Even the finest mechanism can be improved, so do your productivity and time-management tricks.

The authors of Make Time, propose you to make use of scientific methods in your daily life.

There are four main parts that form this idea:

  1. Observe what’s going on. What gets measured get improved. You should list the strategies you currently use and make sure you don’t miss one.
  2. Guess why things are happening the way they are. After practicing for a week or two you might see some changes in your work output. Some strategies however might be less helpful than others and the rest of them might not be useful at all.
  3. Experiment to test your hypothesis. Figure out what they are and try to remove them for some time to see the difference. You may also replace them with the new activities.
  4. Measure the results and decide whether you were right. Did it work? Do you feel more productive, focused, and energetic? If so, keep the activities you added, if no, ditch them and pick the other ones.

Putting It All Together

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky – Make Time authors, have done a nearly impossible thing.

They have written a book on time-management and productivity that everyone seems to find useful and even life-changing.

The strategies outlined in the book are simple enough to try them out right after finishing the book and they are also powerful enough to turn your life around.

The highlight, laser, energize, and reflect pillars that form the entire structure of the book are incredibly useful and straight to the point. They are all packed with numerous science-based tips and strategies that you can take advantage of.

Make Time is a true unicorn among donkeys. It is a must-read for all productivity junkies.

Going Beyond the Summary

You wouldn’t expect me to leave you with the book summary alone, would you?

There are some extra materials I would like to share with you.

They might make a great addition to the knowledge you gained from the summary above.

So if you are up to going down the rabbit hole, I suggest you the following resources.

Recommended Reading

If you like Make Time, you may also enjoy the following books:

Purchase the Original Book

There is always much more to discover from the full-text books.

Most of the time, you will even find some additional ideas and insights that have almost nothing to do with the book’s main topic.

So if you found my summary helpful and the book worth your time, consider buying the original version on Amazon or browse for more book summaries to discover more promising titles.


Additional References

  1. Understanding Personal Productivity: How Knowledge Workers Define, Evaluate, and Reflect on Their Productivity by Youngho Kim
  2. An offer you can’t refuse: Enhancing personal productivity through ‘efficiency consumption’ by Andreas Siemoneit
  3. Trait procrastination time management and academic behavior by Clarry H. Lay