Choose a “Highlight” Every Day

Make Time Month, Week 1

Quick background: I decided to start off my new writing career with a month of experiments to make time and boost focus, and a few hundred brave souls signed up to join me. (You can still sign up here if you want!)

I asked everyone who signed up to choose a project they wanted to make more time for in the next month. People are making time to learn languages, write, paint, meditate, exercise—all kinds of great stuff.

Okay, let’s get to it. This is the first week’s experiment:

“The Daily Highlight”

Every morning, write down one thing you can do for your project today — then do it!

This “Daily Highlight” is based on my friend John Zeratsky’s approach to task management. Every day, instead of trying to do lots of little things, he writes down a to-do list with just one big thing on it. (You can read more here.) Of course, he still does other things, but by committing himself to one specific most important task in the morning, he ends up prioritizing his day and doing more important work.

I’ve tried this approach myself and found it very helpful. In the morning, it sharpens my focus. And at the end of the day, I don’t feel quite so frazzled — instead of wondering where the time went after reacting to my inbox and to-do list all day, I can be satisfied with what I accomplished. On those occasions when I didn’t get my most important task done, I usually have a good reason — something major came up, and I know why I changed my priorities. That kind of clarity is often lacking when I get caught in the churn of email and small urgent-but-ultimately-not-very-important tasks.

But I’ve gotten out of the habit recently, and I think I need to start up again. For the purposes of Make Time Month, I’m calling this the “Daily Highlight” because I want to think of whatever I write down each morning as the potential highlight of my day’s work.

So, if you choose to accept this week’s challenge, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Every morning, choose one thing you want to make time for today
  2. Write it down. This is important! Write it on a piece of paper, or use the One Big Thing app, or whatever, but you must write it down!
  3. Schedule it in your calendar. Look at your calendar and find time for your Highlight. It might be before or during or after your normal working hours, if you have normal working hours. It might be anything from 5 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what you’re up to. But making room on the calendar is important.
  4. Do it.
  5. At the end of the day, reflect on how it went. Was it the highlight of your day? Whether you got it done or not, did it change your sense of satisfaction?

Okay, that’s it. I’m starting right now — my Daily Highlight today is “Write 1000 words” (not counting this wordy post!)

Till next week,

—Jake