Jake Knapp on Creating Time and Finding Focus in Daily Life – The Kevin Rose Show

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Key Takeaways

  • If you really want to cut down on an app’s usage, you have to DELETE it from your phone
    • It doesn’t work to rearrange your apps/move them around – If the app is there, you always know you can go into it
  • It’s gotten to the point where we don’t even continuously realize we’re taking out our phones to scroll social media
  • “The time is often there for the things you want to do, but we’re fragmenting our attention with distraction or we’re burning time on these really compelling entertainments. When you get rid of that, there is space for those ‘someday’ projects.”
  • Make time, don’t find time
    • For the things you really want to do (meditate, work out etc.) – you have to MAKE time
    • You make time to shower – why can’t you make time to work out?
  • To help remind yourself not to pick up your phone so much, try putting a rubber band around it
    • There’s nothing crazy about this – the rubber band just serves as a reminder tool
  • Aim to be purposeful, not productive
  • A great quote – “Those spaces we’re so inclined to fill, when they’re left unfilled, I think good things happen”

Books Mentioned

Intro

Jake’s Background

  • Jake worked at Microsoft prior to Google
  • He says he’s always been obsessed with productivity and time management
    • On being a parent – “I developed a new level of focus and attention to the mechanics of how I spent my time”
  • At Google, Jake worked on Gmail
    • Gmail came out in 2004, and Jake joined Google in 2007
      • “At that point, we were really trying to figure out how to make Gmail a product that saved you time”
      • Back then – the process of searching your email was a revolutionary feature of Gmail’s
      • One of the projects Jake worked on was priority inbox
        • This is a Gmail tool which, through machine learning, is able to figure out which emails are/are not important, and sorts them for you
        • The feature gets better the more you use it – Jake still uses it

Email

  • “Email feels like it’s this little knife jab in the side that never goes away. It’s like this little annoying thing that keeps coming over and over and over again.” – Kevin
  • Jake describes email as a “digital to-do list, but the to-dos come in at random times, and the to-dos are other people’s – they’re not even yours”

Screen Time

  • It’s important to realize that tech companies actually want us to spend more time using their products/apps, and make more money when we do so
    • “People who work in tech are REALLY good at making products that people LOVE to use”
  • iOS and Android have recently implemented features that allow you to see your daily screen time usage
  • But the screen time widgets can only have so much of an effect at helping us to limit device usage…
    • “In my opinion, whether it’s Apple or Google, they’re not going to be able to give us a tool that gives us as much of our attention back for the things that we want it for as we need” – Jake
      • “If I want to have meaningful time with my kids or to work, I’m going to need to shut my phone off, and that’s not going to be in the tech company’s interest”
      • “I have to have times during the day when the distractions are totally shut off, and to do that it requires me to shut things down, delete apps permanently etc. But it has to be more than guilt.”
      • So you can’t just rely on the screen time widgets if you want to really get the deep work done

Android vs. The iPhone

  • Kevin uses both
    • He’s a huge fan of iMessage, but absolutely loves the camera on the Google Pixel 3
    • “I’d love to be on Android more, but I have to wait until they fix messaging”

Why is device addiction a bad thing? Why would you want to actually use these AMAZING devices less?

  • “It’s not intrinsically bad, but it’s not as good as what it displaces”
    • It’s gotten to the point where we don’t even continuously realize we’re taking out our phones to scroll Instagram or check email

The Purge

  • Jake no longer has any social media, news, internet browser, or email apps on his phone – it’s been this way for the past 6 years
  • Just get rid of apps you want to cut back on using
    • It just doesn’t work to rearrange your apps/move them around – “If the app is there, you always know you can go into it”
    • A good rule of thumb – anything that has “infinite content”… delete it
    • “We need to renegotiate our attention and how often we’re available”

Making Time, Not Finding Time

  • If you cut some of these things out (social media usage, watching 2 hours of Netflix every day) you have SO much more time to contribute to other things
  • For the things you really want to do (meditate, work out etc.) – you have to MAKE time
    • Say to yourself – “Okay, every morning, for 15 minutes, I’m going to meditate, NO MATTER WHAT.”
    • You make time to shower – why can’t you make time to work out?
    • “The idea of making time, instead of waiting for the time to appear, is key” 
  • “The time is often there for the things you want to do, but we’re fragmenting our attention with distraction or we’re burning time on these really compelling entertainments. When you get rid of that, there is space for those ‘someday’ projects.”

How do we go about making time? – Look For The Highlight

  • Every morning, Jake asks himself – “What’s gonna be the highlight of my day today?”
    • “If I’m looking forward, and at the end of the day someone asks me, ‘Hey Jake – what was the highlight of your day?’ – What do I want that to be?”
    • Then he makes sure to actually set aside time that day to do that thing

Caffeine

  • Jake has 2-3 cups of coffee per day
  • Kevin only has 1
    • He’s noticed that even if he has a cup past 10 AM, he’ll have trouble sleeping
  • 23andMe data will show whether or not you’re a fast metabolizer of caffeine

RAM and the Human Brain

  • A great way to think about all this – Every time we take out our phones or are distracted by the news, we’re just taking up a bunch of our limited RAM, with stuff that’s not the most important

The Red Rubber Band Hack

  • A feature on the iPhone will tell you how many times per day you pick up your phone 
    • Kevin has averaged 150/day in the past
    • To help remind him not to pick up his phone so much, he put a red rubber band around his case

Purposeful, Not Productive

  • “We shouldn’t say that productivity is our goal because being productive just means doing as much as possible. What we really want is to be purposeful – to move with purpose, to act with purpose, and to spend our attention with purpose.”
    • Jake describes his new book, Make Time, as a “cookbook for purposefulness” 

The 4-Step Framework of Make Time

  • Set a highlight at the beginning of the day – then make sure to do that thing
  • Laser Focus
    • When you’re doing that highlight, eliminate distraction
    • (There are 44 different tactics in the book for helping to limit distraction)
  • Energize
    • In the book, Josh goes into how people can build physical and mental energy which you can use to accomplish what you need to get done
  • Reflecting
    • Look back on your days, and treat them as experiments
    • Try deleting Instagram off your phone, see what happens

Wrapping Up

  • “Our minds are so powerful and surprising when they’re given some quiet”
    • “Those spaces we’re so inclined to fill, when they’re left unfilled, I think good things happen”

Random

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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