116: Caught in Internet Infinity Pools? Make Time By Setting a Daily Highlight and 5-Day Sprints

Are you getting sucked into endless scrolling in Infinity Pools like email, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook? It's okay, we all do. We all know these apps are designed to be addictive. After all, tech is the only industry other than drugs that calls its customers "users." 

It's so easy to look back on the day and wonder, "Where on earth did the time go?!" We've drained ourselves of all energy and yet often come up empty, feeling we have nothing to show for it. At least I'll speak for myself and say that's how I feel when inadvertently taking a ride on what John Zeratsky calls the "Busy Bandwagon."

But what do we do about it? How do we "make time" without the same tired productivity principles that have only led to more exhaustion? John is co-author of a new book called Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day. We’re cut from the same corporate cloth—he worked at Google for 10 years at YouTube and Google Ventures, and has worked as a designer in the Bay Area for fifteen years before striking out on his own last year. I think you'll love this conversation for practical tips on finding more space and joy in work, and why the opposite of exhaustion isn’t necessarily rest. 

Check out full show notes from this episode with links to resources mentioned at PivotMethod.com/podcast/make-time. Enjoying the show? Make my week by donating just $1 and episode at Patreon.com/pivot.

More About John Zeratsky

John has written for the Wall Street Journal, Time, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Fast Company, and many other publications. For fifteen years, he was a designer at technology companies, including Google, YouTube, and Google Ventures. He is the co-author, with Jake Knapp, of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days and their new book, Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day

Topics We Cover

  • Two major time pitfalls: Busy Bandwagon and Infinity Pools

  • Ten years ago he had a powerful realization: he couldn’t remember the last two months

  • Why “making time” is NOT about productivity and cramming more in

  • Every day, set a Highlight: based on urgency, satisfaction or joy

  • Why I only read the news on weekends, via paper delivery of the New York Times

  • The opposite of exhaustion isn’t necessarily rest . . . on wholeheartedness as an anti-dote to time stress

  • What motivated him to leave Google after ten years, narrowing his focus

  • 5-Day Sprint process: Map the Problem, Brainstorm Solutions, Narrow to a Prototype, Build Prototype, Test Prototype

  • Dramatic example of resetting the defaults in your corporate culture - going from those days of carving a little time each day to feeling like you can work only at the end of a workday after emails and meetings - keeps people at arms-length from the work that’s really challenging and important

  • Taking care of your body gives your brain energy, creates high quality time

  • Counter-intuitive time creators

  • 1,700 test readers of the book!! How they incorporated feedback: trusted friends

  • Jenny’s Heart of Podcasting Course and why the 5-day format helps so much

  • Batch the little stuff: get to it one day a week (that can be that day’s highlight) - it’s surprisingly rewarding!

  • Experiment: Think about the thing that is the most distracting to you, that steals the most of your time; find a way to get rid of it

Make Time: 5-Day Sprint, Highlight, Opposite of Exhaustion Isn’t Rest - Wholeheartedness with John Zeratsky

Listen below or on iTunes, SoundCloud, YouTubeOvercastStitcher, or Google Play Music:

Check out other episodes of the Pivot Podcast here. Be sure to subscribe via iTunesGoogle Play or SoundCloud, and if you enjoy the show I would be very grateful for a rating and/or review! Sign-up for my weekly(ish) #PivotList newsletter to receive curated round-ups of what I'm reading, watching, listening to, and new tools I'm geeking out on.

Want to support the show and become a founding member of the Pivot Podcast community? Join us on Patreon here.