Jake Knapp encourages purpose over productivity in Make Time

4 min read
Eli Woolery
  •  Oct 11, 2018
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What if you could set aside a distraction-free space to accomplish one thing in your life each day? How might that change your relationships, hobbies, work, or mental wellbeing?

Jake Knapp, co-author of the New York Times bestseller, Sprint, was inspired to ask this question after finding himself absentmindedly scrolling through his phone one evening while playing with his kids.

“In short, Knapp suggests we forget about being productive and focus instead on being purposeful.”

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In a special episode of the DesignBetter.Co Podcast, we talk to Knapp about his new book, Make Time, which advocates for deciding on a “highlight” for each day—playing with your children uninterrupted, working on your side project, decluttering the pantry—then minimizing the “infinity pools” of distraction to accomplish that highlight.

He deep-dived into:

  • Why “productivity” is a dirty word,
  • How to use design sprint methodology to define the most important part—or “highlight”—of your day, and
  • How to structure your day around your highlight by minimizing the “infinity pools” of distraction.

“I would say productivity is kind of a dirty word to us, and we kind of change the way we look at that idea of being effective and being purposeful in our work.”

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Conversation highlights

On finding your focus

“Once you have that highlight, everything else you do around creating time, protecting time in your calendar for that thing, building the energy for that thing, removing distractions for that thing, they stopped being led by guilt, and they start being led by what you want to do, it’s this instant reward. And that’s, I think, also really powerful.”

On finding your purpose

“You can very easily be productive and actually not be doing the work that matters the most.”

On finding your zone

Make Time is actually not that you have to meditate, but that if you are able to pick a focal point and then you’re able to turn down distractions and you have enough energy, you have enough physical and mental energy, this just sort of appears, this mode where you’re locked in just appears. And it is kind of that essence of meditation.”

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