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Adorable read packed with a multitude of tactics for creating more time in your day. The book is structured around four topics: highlight, focus, energize, and reflect. The highlight is your most important work, so to protect it you need to be able to focus, energize, and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. The book is packaged in a very accessible manner and makes it easy jumping back and forth, to try out different tactics. Very enjoyable to read.

My notes

The Busy Bandwagon

Our culture is one of constant busyness. The overflowing inboxes, stuffed calendars, and endless todo-lists. According to The Busy Bandwagon mindset, if you want to meet the demands of modern society, you must fill every minute with productivity.

Infinity Pools

Apps and other sources of endlessly replenishing content makes up the “infinity pools”. This always-available, always-new entertainment is your reward for the exhaustion of constant busyness.

Avoid the defaults

  • The average person spends four hours a day on their smartphone and another four-plus hours watching TV-shows. Distraction is literally a full-time job.
  • Productivity isn’t the solution. The faster you run on the hamster wheel, the faster it spins.
  • Even if you don’t control your own schedule — you absolutely can control your attention.
  • Stop reacting to the modern world.
  • Apply design to the invisibles in your life — like how you spend your time.
  • Redefine how and when you use technology.

Something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal.

The power of experiments

  • Experimenting allows you to improve your process.
  • Change comes from resetting the defaults.

Start each day by choosing a highlight to focus on

Your highlight isn’t the only thing you’ll do that day, but it will be your priority. Choosing a highlight puts you in a proactive frame of mind.

Stop the reaction cycle

You can redesign the way you use technology to stop the reaction cycle.

Recharge the brain

Charge your battery with exercise, food, sleep, quiet, and face-to-face time. The lifestyle defaults of the twenty-first century ignore our evolutionary history and rob us of energy.

Improve your system

  • Take a few notes every evening so that you can adjust your system as you go.
  • Perfection is another distraction — just another shiny thing taking away your attention from real priorities.

Keep the system flexible

The goal is not monastic vows but a workable and flexible set of habits.

Start small

Positive results compounds over time and allow you to tackle bigger and bigger goals.

The highlight

Long-term goals are useful for orienting you in the right direction but make it hard to enjoy the time spent along the way. And smaller tasks are necessary to get things done, but they feel too machine-like. They fly by in a forgettable haze. The missing piece to the equation is the highlight.

  • Think about each day, what do you want to be the bright spot of it?
  • Your experience of the day is not primarily determined by what happens to you. You create your own reality by choosing what you pay attention to.
  • Be intentional about how you spend your time.

Your goal is to steer away from the impossible vision of perfectly planned days and toward a life that’s more joyful and less reactive.

Choose a highlight that takes you sixty to ninety minutes

If you spend less time than sixty minutes and you may not get into the zone, but after ninety minutes of focused attention you need a break. Spending that amount of time makes your highlight a thing of value.

  • When choosing a highlight, remember the following mantra: pick, test, repeat.
  • Make “writing down your highlight” a simple daily ritual.
  • Sticky notes are easy to use, and they don’t require batteries or software updates.

Stack Rank your life

  1. Make a list of the big things that matter in your life.
  2. Choose the one most important thing.
  3. Choose the second, third, fourth, and fifth most important things.
  4. Rewrite the list in order of priority.
  5. Draw a circle around number one.

This list can be reshuffled with time when you feel your priorities change.

Batch process the small stuff

  • Bundle up the small tasks and batch process them in one session.
  • To-do lists perpetuate the feeling of “unfinishedness” that dogs modern life.

Schedule Your Highlight

When you schedule something, you’re making a commitment, sending yourself a tiny message: “I’m going to do this.” Use daily “do not schedule” blocks to make room for your highlight.

  • ”When is the best time of day to check email?”
  • “How long should it take?”

Design the answers ahead of time rather than reacting in real time.

Redefine your relationship with technology

By default, we don’t just get the best of modern technology. We get all of it, all the time. If you want control, you have to redesign your own relationship with technology.

The best way to defeat distraction is to make it hard to react.

  • Put together a new set of defaults. It’s all about creating a little inconvenience.
  • Notifications are nonstop attention thieves. Turn. Them. Off.

Clean up after yourself

Think of the few minutes it takes to straighten up after yourself as an investment in your ability to be proactive, not reactive, with your time.

Watch out for time craters

Small distractions create much larger holes in our day. Posting a tweet only takes 90 seconds, but the aftermath is the real waste. Watch out for time craters!

  • Contributing to the conversation on the internet feels like an accomplishment. But these contributions are insignificant, they’re “fake wins”.

“I’m slow to respond to respond because I need to prioritize some important projects, but if your message is urgent, send me a text.”

Make watching TV a special occasion

People watch an average of 4 hours of television every day. TV time is a gold mine: a large pile of perfectly good hours ready to be reclaimed. Change the default and make TV time a “special treat”.

  • Streaming subscriptions are like an all-you-can-eat buffet of distractions in your living room, at all times.

Start on paper

Paper is less intimidating than a screen. It improves focus because you can’t waste time on other things. When you struggle to get into laser mode, try starting on paper.

Keep a notepad

To stay focused on your highlight you need a place to store all those random questions popping up in your head. So that instead of checking it up directly, you can write it down on your notepad and go back to what you were doing.

Take care of your body

When you don’t take care of your body, your brain can’t do its job. Want energy for your brain? Take care of your body.

Go small and go every day

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Make it doable instead of making it “right”. 10-20 minutes of exercise each day is way better than a 90 minute-session once a week. It’s okay to not be perfect.

Walking is really, really darned good for you

Walking is practically a wonder drug. Change the default from “ride whenever possible” to “walk whenever possible”. You will start to see opportunities everywhere. Walking may be the world’s simplest and most convenient form of exercise.

The Japanese government is suggesting a practice called shinrin-yoku, which translates to something like “forest bathing”. The forest recharge the battery in your brain.

Meditation is a breather for your brain

Thinking is the default position. Constant thinking means your brain never gets rest. Meditate to give your brain a break.


When you have one ambitious but achievable goal, at the end of the day, you’re done. You can check it off, let go of work, and go home satisfied.

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If you want to make time for things that matter, the Busy Bandwagon will tell you the answer is to do more.

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You only waste time if you’re not intentional about how you spend it.

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We hate to-do lists. Checking off finished tasks feels good, but the fleeting glow of accomplishment masks an ugly truth: Most to-dos are just reactions to other people’s priorities, not yours.

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Apple reports that people unlock their iPhones an average of 80 times per day, and a 2016 study by customer-research firm Dscout found that people touched their phones an average of 2,617 times per day. Distracted has become the new default.

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We evolved to be distractible because it kept us safe from danger (check the flash in your peripheral vision—it might be a stalking tiger or a falling tree!). We evolved to love mysteries and stories because they helped us learn and communicate. We evolved to love gossip and seek social status because that allowed us to form tight-knit protective tribes.

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By turning off your notifications, you’ll teach your phone some manners. You’ll transform it from a nonstop blabbering loudmouth into a polite bearer of important news—the kind of friend you’d actually want in your life.

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Reacting to what’s in front of you is always easier than doing what you intend.

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A “quick” fifteen-minute burrito lunch might cost an extra three hours of food coma.

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Checking mail always feels like an accomplishment even when there’s nothing new.

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instant-response insanity is our culture’s default behavior. It’s the cornerstone of the Busy Bandwagon.

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As we see it, all that TV time is a gold mine: a large pile of perfectly good hours just lying there, ready to be reclaimed.

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When your battery is empty, you’re totally exhausted—you feel wrung out and maybe even depressed. This is when you’re most likely to get distracted by Infinity Pools such as Facebook and email. Then you feel worse because you’re tired and you’re annoyed at yourself for wasting time. That’s 0 percent. It sucks.

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At a time when the modern world seems crazy, it’s helpful to remember that Homo sapiens evolved to be hunter-gatherers, not screen tappers and pencil pushers.

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There are opportunities to be inconvenienced everywhere!

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Fasting (to a point) makes your mind clear and your brain sharp, which is great for staying focused on your priorities.

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Books I’ve read.

Johannes Holmberg

Tiny summaries on books I’ve read. Sorted by latest read. But you can also sort on top recommendations. Highlights and covers are copyright to their respective authors.