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Notes on Make Time

Notes on Make Time

Recently I have been examining team processes, and naturally came across the SPRINT approach to software development. When I stumbled across the book Make Time and realised it was from the same two behind SPRINT. I thought I'd give it a read. These are my notes...

The main premise is about how to slow time and take a step back and make more time for the things you care about. The book is broken into four main sections.

There is more to life than increasing in speed. ~ Gandhi


  • We are too busy with busy work.
  • We are too distracted.
  • The book is not about being more productive or outsourcing life.
  • It is about creating more time for the things you care about.

Modern Life:

  • Busy Bandwagon: The pressure to stay busy, check emails, do to-dos, fill calendars.
  • Infinity Pools: The reward for being busy, the streams or media, Netflix, Instagram, Facebook.

These are detrimental to time. These two concepts have become the western worlds defaults and if we don't change them they will become ours as well.

These defaults are everywhere and in every aspect of our lives and we must actively fight against them.

Busy > Distraction > Time. If we are busy we get pulled to distraction.

Will power is not the way out. Being more productive doesn't help either, the faster you run on the hamster wheel the faster it spins. So how do get off the wheel?

  • Stop reacting mindlessly
  • Make your own defaults
  • Choose what you do with your attention (attention is extremely powerful and valuable)

It's about making time not saving time.

Daily Exercise:


  • Choose a thing you want to get done
  • This can be anything, work or personal
  • Can involve multiple steps


  • Employ tactics to stay focused
  • Avoiding distraction
  • Stop reaction cycle


  • Employ tactics to stay energised to make laser mode easier
  • Use the body to recharge the brain


  • Look back on the day and see what worked and what didn't
  • Adjust and improve the daily system

This is an easy heuristic to how to approach each day in the pursuit of more time. The book then goes on to lost a number of tactics for each section and encourages the reader to Pick, Test, Repeat and see what works for each section. The goal is not monastic following the principles but taking the tools and tactics and making them work within your lifestyle. The authors also emphasis the importance of starting each day clean.

The best tactics are one that fit into your day and not those that are forced.


We do not remember days we remember moments

When I reflect on the day what will bring me the most joy?


  • Fun
  • Work
  • Urgent

Pick any one depending on what you want to do.

60-90 minutes to do something meaningful.

Highlights are flexible, make them adjust to your life and unforeseen happenings.


  1. Write it down
  2. Groundhog it (do yesterday again)
  3. Stack rank your life

    • Make a list of the big things in your life Categories: Health, Finance, Personal Growth, Work, Personal. 3-10 things
    • Choose the one important thing (not the most urgent)
    • Choose ranks 2-5
    • Rewrite the list in order
    • Circle number one
    • Use this list to choose highlights
  4. Batch the little stuff

    • Bundle up the small tasks and do them all in the 60-90 session
    • Catch up all at once
    • Not a daily highlight
    • This make ignoring smaller things easier and you know you can bundle them
  5. The Might do list

    • To-do list are reactions to other peoples priorities (normally)
    • Good way to capture things to do
    • A list of things that you might do
    • Move from might do to highlight
    • Avoids staying busy on the easy stuff
  6. The Burner list

    • Intentionally limited
    • Make two columns one represents the front burner and one represents the back burner
    • one project in the front burner, then make sub tasks that need to be done to make it happen (leave space to allow focus)
    • second most important in the back burner. Doesn't get as much attention
    • bottom half of front burner is the kitchen sink that holds important but miscellaneous tasks
    • burn through list and then repeat
  7. The Personal Sprint

    • Keep at the same highlight for seven days in row and make it easier to get back in the groove for that project
    • day 3 or 4 is the zone
  8. Schedule your highlight

    • Estimate highlight time
    • When to do it
    • Schedule it and commit
  9. Block your calendar

    • Block areas of calendar where people can not schedule things
  10. Bulldoze your calendar

    • Compress items in calendar as much extra time as possible
    • Reduce times of meetings
  11. Flake it until you make it

    • Cancel low priority things you do not need to go to
  12. Just say no

    • No half choices
    • Positively say no "Can't do it, but these guys might like it"
  13. Design your day

    • Structure your day by half hours
    • Adjust in each daily Make Time cycle
    • Predictable schedule
    • Redesign as the day goes on if you need two
  14. Become a morning person
  15. Nighttime is highlight time
  16. Quit When your done

    • Draw a line and stop when you can't handle anymore
    • Find a finish time


Laser mode is high focus mental activity to get the most out of the highlight stage. It involves eliminating distractions and focusing attention.

and yet it would be a relief in a way, not to be bothered with it anymore. Sometimes I have felt it is like an eye looking at me. I found I couldn't rest without in my pocket. ~ Bilbo Baggins


  1. Distraction free phone

    • Remove email, apps, browser
  2. Logout

    • No auto login to make it hard and therefore intentional to good to applications
  3. Nix notifications

    • Make apps not send push notifications
  4. Clear home screen

    • no apps on home screen
  5. Wear a wrist watch

    • Don't need to look at phone
  6. Leave devices behind

    • Put in a drawer or at work
  7. Skip the morning check-in

    • Don't look at phone first thing in the morning
  8. Block distraction cryptonite

    • Remove the app you spend most time on
    • Don't go to that forum on channel you find yourself frittering time on
  9. Ignore the news
  10. Put your toys away
  11. Fly without WiFi
  12. Timer on the internet
  13. Cancel the internet
  14. Watch out for time craters
  15. Trade fake wins for real wins
  16. Turn distractions into tools
  17. Become a fair weather fan


  1. Deal with Email at the end of the day
  2. Schedule email time
  3. Empty inbox once a week
  4. Pretend messages are letters
  5. Be slow to respond
  6. Reset expectations
  7. Setup send only email
  8. Vacation off the grid
  9. Lock yourself out


  1. Make TV a sometimes treat
  2. Don't watch the news
  3. Put TV in the corner
  4. Ditch TV for projector
  5. Go A La Carte instead of All you can eat

Find Flow

  1. Shut the door
  2. Invent a Deadline
  3. Explode your Highlight
  4. Play a laser soundtrack
  5. Set a visible timer
  6. Avoid the lure of fancy tools
  7. Start on paper

Stay in the zone

  1. Make a random question list
  2. Notice one breath
  3. Be bored
  4. Be stuck
  5. Go all in


  1. Exercise everyday but don't be a hero
  2. Pound the pavement

    • Walk more
  3. Inconvenience yourself
  4. Squeeze in a short workout
  5. Eat real food
  6. Eat like a hunter gatherer
  7. Central park your plate
  8. Stay hungry
  9. Snack like a toddler
  10. Dark chocolate plan
  11. Optimise caffeine
  12. Wake up before you caffeinate
  13. Caffeinate before you crash
  14. Take a caffeine nap
  15. Maintain altitude with green tea
  16. Turbo Highlight
  17. Learn last call
  18. Disconnect sugar
  19. Go of the grid
  20. Get Woodsy
  21. Trick yourself into meditating
  22. Leave headphones at home
  23. Take real breaks
  24. Make it personal
  25. Spend time with your tribe
  26. Eat without screens
  27. Sleep in a cave
  28. Make your bedroom a bed room
  29. Sneak a nap
  30. Don't jet lag yourself
  31. Put on your own oxygen on mask first


Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.

The Scientific method:

  1. Observe what is going on
  2. Guess why things are happening the way they are
  3. Experiment to prove hypothesis
  4. Measure the results

Highlight Hypothesis

If you sent a single intention for each do you will be more joyful because of it.

Laser Hypothesis

If you create barriers around the busy bandwagon and the infinite pools you will be able to focus

Energise Hypothesis

If you live more like a prehistoric human you will have more energy

You are a sample size of one.

Take notes to track results. Answer these questions:

  • What was my highlight today?
  • Did I make time for it?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 how focused did I feel?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10 how much energy did I have?
  • Which tactic did I try and which will I try again?
  • Whats a moment I'm grateful for?

If you fail, use the notes to track and tweak what works for your lifestyle.Not a big deal.

Automate highlight choosing and notes taking at night.

Small shifts can create big results. You're already close. Start your someday project.

Quick Start Guide


Schedule your highlight


Block distraction cryptonite


Pound the pavement

For three days straight take some notes and take it from there.

Further Reading

  • Happiness Project
  • Brain rules
  • The Distracted Mind
  • Deep Work
  • Four Hour Work Week
  • Getting Things Done
  • How to Have a Good Day
  • The Power Of Moments
  • Head-space
  • The Power of Habit
  • Mindset
  • In Defense of Food
  • Sapians
  • Irresistible
  • humanetech.com
  • Hooked
  • Your Money or Your Life
  • A Guide to the Good Life
  • As long as It's Fun
  • The Living
  • On Writing