I like a level of routine. Without some routine in my day, I can quickly waste away days in front of the TV. A simple way to get around this, particularly now while having a stay at home holiday, is to have at least one ‘highlight’ each day. The todo might be small, like go for a run or something fun like having a long call with a friend or family member, but something each day.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.Seneca
In their book Make time, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky of Google sprint fame, share a framework for designing your day around what matters. The four-step process focuses on choosing a highlight for the day, something you want to use to answer the question ‘what did you do today?’ and then gradually testing out tactics to help get this thing done. Over time you will test and adopt tactics that together build a daily system tailored to your life and priorities.
We want you to begin each day by thinking about what you hope will be the bright spot. If, at the end of the day, someone asks you, “What was the highlight of your day?” what do you want your answer to be? When you look back on your day, what activity or accomplishment or moment do you want to savor? That’s your Highlight.Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
The four steps
- Highlight – start each day by choosing a focal point
- Lazer – Beat distraction to make time for your highlight
- Energise – Use the body to recharge the brain
- Reflect – Adjust and improve your system
The most important step is choosing your days highlight. The book suggests asking yourself each morning ‘what is going to be the highlight of my day? Choose an activity that takes around 60-90 minutes, it can contain multiple steps and might be work-related, personal care or even something from your honey-do list. Before you go about your day, select the time you will do this highlight and protect it. Add it to your calendar and let people know that you are busy at that time.
Once you get to the scheduled time, you need to make sure you can focus on that one task and nothing else. Becoming distraction-free might require you to turn off any technology not needed in your task or go somewhere away from your usual setting. To make sure you have the energy to do the things you want the book suggest a load of tactics from taking care of your body with regular exercise, good sleep patterns (naps!), and healthy food, to the strategic use of caffeine before your task for a quick pick up.
Each evening, the authors suggest taking a few notes on how well your new system is working. Did the tactics make time for your task, focus on it, and have the energy to do it work? If yes, keep them, and if no, ditch the ones not working and replace them with new tactics to test.
Try it tomorrow
Tomorrow morning, get up and write down a task you want to do that will take around an hour and choose when you will do it. Make it something that you really want to do but might not make the time for usually due to the day’s natural run. When that time comes around, make a coffee, turn off your phone, and do it. In the evening, think about how you got your highlight done, your energy levels, when you scheduled it. What could you do better to get tomorrows highlight done? Simple, but maybe not easy.
Pick up a copy of Make time: how to focus on what matters every day to find the full explanation of the process and an extensive collection of tactics to help you build your system. Let me know on Twitter what tactics work for you.