Making Time with Daily Highlights

Like many people interested in productivity and optimization, I’ve consumed a lot of resources and tried a lot of different systems — too many of which blend together and soon fall by the wayside. This summer, though, Ali Abdaal’s channel introduced me to Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, which has substantially changed my planning mindset in a positive way. 

The upshot is that you set a Highlight for each day: this helps you focus on and accomplish something that matters, however you want to define that. (Of course, this is an oversimplification and there’s more to the method; highly recommend checking out the book for yourself!)

As an overachiever given to decision fatigue and analysis paralysis, I really can’t overstate how helpful this has been. My habit has been to keep a running weekly to-do list in my bullet journal, where I used to set 3-5 “priority” tasks per day but would often end up just chipping away at as many items as possible every day, switching around as the mood strikes me and rarely getting to check off any projects (or even substantial subtasks of projects). While I’m still experimenting with corresponding bujo spreads, the shift to a Daily Highlight has already made it a lot easier to prioritize and actually finish the tasks that really matter.

And as someone who likes to try new things and frequently change up my routine, I’ve had quite a bit of fun testing out some of the concrete tips in the book. The authors give lots of suggestions for each of the four steps in the Make Time system; obviously not every technique will work for every person, but it’s been a fantastic opportunity to load up my productivity toolbox while further personalizing my schedule. (Some favorites so far: the might-do list, scheduling email checks for the end of the day, clearing my phone home screen.)

It’s also been fantastic for my mental health, since a single Highlight is much more manageable during low-energy periods, and this system makes it much easier to give myself permission to call it a day before I burn myself out. Each day feels more distinct and meaningful, cheesy as that may sound; I actually have things to write on my one line a day spread.

  • How do you plan and schedule your time?
  • Do you make a daily to-do list? If so, do you prioritize or narrow down the tasks, or try to do them all?
  • What do you most want to make time for in your life?

2 thoughts on “Making Time with Daily Highlights

  1. Hah.. I like the idea of the “might do” list. As I get todo-list anxiety 🤭 I’ve taken up yoga for a while now.. and though iknow i’ve worked 6days a week this time, but only doing it 3x a week seems too low for me and that makes me feel bad. So a change in the wording definately might help releasing the pressure on “I HAVE to do this or im failing” issue.

    I always seem to have WAY more time that I know what to do with for some reason 🤣 Though when im not working I spend most of it gaming.. feeling guilty of not doing atleast a little something productive in the day (yoga, blog stuff.. even grinding the pups nails!). Except for my work schedule and the few appointments I do get – LOTS for the pups right now; annual vaccines check, teeth cleaning and all that – I actually don’t plan my day at all. I’m a fan of wigning things and just- go with it.


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