A highlight from Encore - Jake Knapp - Redesign Time to Focus on What Matters Most



Matters most to you. Now, here's Jake. Jake, welcome to untangle. Thank you so much for being with us today. Patricia, thank you for having me on. Yeah, it's kind of exciting. I don't know a whole lot about this topic, make time how to focus on what matters every day from your perspective, which is as a Google design sprint creator, would you say that's sort of the inspiration for this? That's definitely where a lot of the ideas for this book came from. And the design sprint is a process I created while I was working at Google. I worked at Google for about ten years and the design sprint was the process that I used first at Google, and then working at Google ventures with the startups who we invested in as a way for a team to get away from what they were doing and for one week focus on an important project. And it sort of step by step process and we could experiment with what was the best way to help everybody and both as an individual and as a team focus. And so in this book, make time, my co author John and I who worked with me while I was at Google, we sort of tried to apply those ideas to what you do as an individual in everyday life. So how can you focus? How can you draw your attention to the most important things? And that's what make time is all about. Let's talk a little bit more about a design sprint. So you take people out of their work environment and you did this with Googlers and with people who were part of the ventures group. Google ventures, people who worked at the companies we invested in. So for example, we invest in companies like Uber and slack and 23andMe and all kinds of companies, healthcare companies, all kinds of startups, usually tech startups. And so we would work with them and they'd have some big thing they were working on. Some big new project or something. And we would go in and for one week, we sort of like, okay, you're not going to do the normal thing for this one week, this team of people is going to work together. And we're going to follow this checklist. This sort of recipe that we've come up with for solving the problem. And deciding which of those solutions is the best and building a prototype and putting it in front of customers. So you accomplish what might be normally months worth of work in this really condensed period of time, but we also wanted to make it not a recipe for burnout. So it's really a good experience and a positive outcome for the business as well. Is it an intense week or are you trying to sort of inject space in their brain so that people can be a little more creative about solving problems? How do you inspire these hugely amazing ideas that come out of this? Well, it's both. It's a combination of intensity and space and actually I think that's something that's really important in this idea of make time. The new book is that if you attention is kind of the fundamental element of human existence, what we pay attention to. You can say time is all we have. But really that time isn't all the same. Days might go by when the experience sort of blurs via because you're doing the same thing over and over again, maybe not paying attention, maybe you're distracted. And then sometimes you can be hyper focused and you're recording lots of memories and things are almost time seems to slow down. So it's really a tension that's so important. So in a design sprint or in make time when we talk about what happens in a day, some of the things that we think were the most important, just strategically for a business, but also for like an individual, like the things that really matter to you. When you're in those things and you're doing it, you are hyper focused, you're super in the zone. You're in what we call laser mode. And it is intense. I mean, it can feel good, but it's intense. You need also to have space and you need to have quiet and rest in order to have those times of focus. They do complement one another. And it was important for us and something that I learned the hard way running these designs, Friends, because it's a recipe that I refined over the period of many, many years. And in the beginning, if you asked too much of people, I asked focus for too long, days that went on for too long or asking for them to go through too many tasks at once, or even like eating the wrong kinds of foods or taking breaks that weren't long enough. And those things negatively affect your ability to get into that really what we call laser mode. Yeah. You also talk about the fact that in life, sort of outside of the design sprints and these environments that you're creating, the most of our time is spent by default, sort of, what's the next thing that's in front of us? What do we check off our list? And I'm just so curious, how can we be more creative? It does seem like so much time gets wasted. And our brains, when we do task after task after task, we don't even think anymore. We're just kind of moving through things. And I just wonder how we can really be creative if that's how our days are going. Totally, it's challenging. And I think that the hope is that really things are pretty out of whack. Normally. The way that things starts pretty out of whack. And so the hope is that the promise of that, the opportunity is that because they're really out of whack, can actually make some small changes and put them back into whack or back into more balance and more positive frame, pretty easily. We think that's sort of what a big part of the book are these 87 different tactics that you're not meant to do all of them. You sort of pick and choose the ones that you want to experiment with for yourself. But they're small shifts that you might make without having to create a zillion new habits or reinvent your life that just kind of put things a little bit less crazy and kind of change some of those defaults. And so for example, let's look at how things are for many people by default. By default, when at work, and for many of us, other people control our calendar, or at least other people can propose meetings to us or invite us to meetings that we have to go to. So if you're in an office environment, a lot of times your time is not your own during the day, during 5 days of the week. So that's the default is at least in the culture at Google. This was the default. So many puts a meeting on my calendar invites me like, I'm going to try to go. I want to help them. So try to go. And they just put it on your calendar. They could put it on my calendar, right? They can see my calendar. They can see when I'm available, and they just invite me. Okay, so and I'll try to go. And then people will email me, and I want to help them. So I'm going to try to reply as quickly as I can. And I'll reply to everybody who is on the email. So everybody is in the loop. And I'm going to try to be as responsive as I can to help my colleagues. And if somebody sends me a message, instant message. I'm going to try to get back to them because fast as I can. I want to help. That's good. And that's our default is we want to be helpful and we want to follow the culture. There's also a cultural thing in states and I think it's a little bit less of just genuinely about being helpful. It's a little unfortunate, but we have this culture of busy. It's somebody says, oh, how are things going? I'm seeing a lot of people who I haven't seen for a few months. And it's really hard to not say it was busy because that's the only word in the English language that we have for it was good. A lot of things happened. So we kind of feel like we have to be busy or say that we're busy a lot. And we see other people talking about that. And so we feel like we got to do as much as we can. So there's all these defaults that push us to be really reactive, reactive to the calendar, reactive to our inbox, and then also reactive to the fact that other people seem to be frantic. And this sort of defaults, the set of defaults that mess us up. It doesn't just stop when you walk out of the office, there are defaults in our devices. And you get a phone.

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