Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Nonfiction Review: Make Time

I heard about Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (a 2018 release) from my friend, Chris Wolak, on one of my favorite book podcasts, Book Cougars, that she hosts with Emily Fine. I felt like I needed some inspiration this year, as last year a lot of important things just didn't get done in my life. I got that, plus some great new tips, from this fun and helpful book.

The authors are two former Google employees, who led teams and created the Design Sprint process while there, who are now living their dream lives. They share what they've learned about focusing on priorities to get the most important things done each day, which is just what I needed right now! Their process is a simple but effective one. First, set a highlight or priority for each day, based on what is important to you. Next, focus on that highlight and beat distractions to make progress. Then, reflect on what worked and didn't work that day, to adjust and improve your own personal system. And do it all again the next day! Each of those major steps (shown in the simple diagram below) is described in detail in the book, with 87 quick and simple tactics that you can pick and choose from to see what works for you. Finally, the whole process is supported by improving your energy (which includes some of its own tactics). That first step--set a focus or highlight for each day--was the missing piece I needed in my own life. The idea is that you may do lots of things in a day, but you set a priority for one thing that will be your primary purpose for that day, that you will give your high-energy, laser-focus time to during your own personal prime time.

That one piece--Set a Daily Highlight--was the most helpful to me. It's something I sort of understood vaguely before, but they helped me to put it into practice. They also reminded me of some things I already try to do--like staying off social media in the morning and jumping right into my priority work--that fell by the wayside last year. Because of my underlying health problems (and very late adoption of a smartphone!), many of their tactics are things I already do but that others will probably find revolutionary. The book is written in a fun, casual style (and illustrated with cartoons), and I enjoyed it ... and was inspired! My new year is off to a great start, thanks to Jake and J.Z. (you, too, will be on a first-name basis with them after reading this book). You can read more about their book and their process at their Make Time website.

287 pages, Currency

(NOTE: In my copy of the book, some of the pages were out of order in the last chapter, which was a bit confusing; however, it was easy for me to figure out which page to read next by looking for the rest of the sentence that was cut-off in the middle! This is the fault of the publisher, not the authors, and I can't imagine how this got past their editors in the final review, but it didn't detract from the value I got from the book overall. I had the hardcover, so perhaps they solved this issue in the paperback.) 

Listen to a sample of the audiobook, read by the authors, here, from the start of the book, and/or download it from Audible.


You can purchase Make Time from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:

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You can also buy through indie bookstores using Bookshop.


Or you can order Make Time from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.



  1. Many of us could use this book. I am really good at to do lists, but don't pick a focus for the day, which would really help.

    1. Me, too, Helen! I am the List Queen! But I have a tendency to make a list of 20 things I want to do that day and never get to the truly important stuff. This is working for me so far!

  2. I’m glad you found it so helpful, I like the idea of choosing a focus as you’ve described.

    1. It's helping me so much this year! That's my biggest issue - focusing, since I always have WAY more to do than I possibly can! It feels so good to really be accomplishing things and not just getting lost in the minutiae each day! On the downside, I am neglecting my e-mails and am up to 300 unread in my Inbox! Trying to catch up now :) It's a balancing act.