The pivot of man working in tech, to man writing a personal optimization book is a well worn path. Sometimes these books feel extremely out of touch and sometimes they work! Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky is an example of the latter. I finally decided to get over my skepticism and read it after it was repeatedly referenced during my process of researching digital addiction (stay tuned for more on that project).
The authors, Knapp and Zeratsky, former designers at Google, use their intimate understanding of tech companies use of behavioral design and apply it to help us improve our lives. They discuss productivity, time management, health and fitness, and conscious tech use. What I love about this book is how practically useful it is. Its concepts are well researched and the authors case test the strategies in their own life to make sure they actually work.
Here are some of my favorite tips:
Create a distraction-free smartphone. They recommend not waiting for tech companies to help us with digital addiction and instead to take matters into our own hands. When it comes to technology, willpower doesn’t really exist and we have to create our own barriers if we want to have a healthy relationship with our devices. Seriously, read the article on how to turn your smartphone into a distraction-free phone here. If you actually do this, your life will change!
Disconnect from the constant news cycle by creating a once a week news ritual. I think it’s important to continue to be informed and connected to what is going on in the world. Yet, staying up to date with the ever-unfolding news cycle on an hourly basis creates unnecessary stress. The suggest unhooking from the constant news cycle by creating a deliberate once a week news ritual. Practically speaking, they recommend reading the Economist, or the Sunday Times once a week. If you prefer to get your news digitally, schedule a time on your calendar when you will check in with your favorite sources.
Create an email schedule instead of checking constantly, all day long. I’m sold on this idea conceptually. Email is where everyone else’s agenda for you exists and if you spend all day fielding emails it is easy to forgo your most important creative projects. I had repeatedly heard the recommendation to only check email 1-2 times a day but had no clue how anyone actually implemented this. Email is so seductive and gaining the willpower to avoid constantly checking in seemed impossible. In Make Time, they give concrete recommendations for how to follow this recommendation even if you feel like you have no email willpower. They recommend using apps like Inbox When Ready or Freedom to lock you out of email except during your designated check times. To figure out your best email schedule, they specifically recommend deciding when is the latest in the morning you could first check your email and having your first check-in then. Then, have your last check-in towards the end of the work day. Once you determine your ideal schedule, use a recurring schedule on your app blockers to force you into this habit.
There are tons of super useful tips like this in Make Time. A lot of the concepts and recommendations you have likely already heard. What is different about Make Time is that they understand behavioral design well enough to be super specific and strategic about breaking down HOW to actually implement these strategies realistically.
What are you currently reading? Any health books you'd recommend for a future review?