Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2019), 228



  1. Stop
    • Formulate (what you want from productivity)
    • Evaluate (high vs low leverage work)
    • Rejuvenate (use rest to be more productive)
  2. Cut
    • Eliminate (cut out time wasters)
    • Automate (for low leverage work)
    • Delegate (get work off your plate)
  3. Act
    • Consolidate (three categories of activity)
    • Designate (stage tasks and fight urgency)
    • Activate (eliminate interruptions and distractions)

Part 1 - Stop

Chapter 1 - Formulate

  • Efficiency and success aren't the best goals of productivity
  • The real objective is the freedom to pursue what's most important to you (33)
    • freedom to focus, be present, be spontaneous, do nothing
  • Exercise: Productivity Vision

Chapter 2 - Evaluate

  • focus on tasks for which you have passion and proficiency (45)
    • passion: "I can't believe they are paying me to do this"
    • proficiency: you have skill plus contribution
  • Charlie "Tremendous" Jones: You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." (50)
  • Zones of productivity
    • Productivity = more of Desire Zone [Zone 1] and less of everything else (57)
    • Development zone = not in Desire Zone yet, but moving that direction

  • Freedom Compass

  • Don't let your mindset limit your productivity

Chapter 3 - Rejuvenate

  • Rule of 50: working more than 50 hrs/week is counter productive (66)
  • "Time is fixed, but energy flexes" (68)
  • Personal energy is replenished by:
    1. Sleep
    2. Eat
    3. Move
    4. Connect
    5. Play: activity for its own sake, citing Churchill's Painting as a Pastime
    6. Reflect
    7. Unplug: don't think, talk, do, or read about work

Part 2 - Cut

Chapter 4 - Eliminate

  • Time is zero sum but energy is not
  • What will I have to give up to say yes to this opportunity? (96)
  • How to say no:
    1. Yes - say yes to yourself by protecting what is important and affirming the other person
    2. No - say no to the request clearly and unambiguously
    3. Yes - affirm them and offer an alternative
  • don't feel guilt or shame from the resulting free time by saying no (111)

Chapter 5 - Automate

  • first step is to notice what your automation needs are
  • find the easier way to do things
  1. Self-automation
    • Rituals liberate creativity, speed your work, and correct your mistakes (117-118)
    • Focus on these four key rituals: morning, startup, wind-down, bed
  2. Template automation
    • Mindset: what components of this project will I use again?
    • Save email templates in your email signatures, which you can easily switch out when replying to messages
  3. Process automation
    • Document, optimize, test, and share processes
  4. Tech automation
    • Technology can be counted on, but individual tools cannot (129)
    • Email filtering software
    • Macro-processing software: Keyboard Maestro (Vimium, Shortcat, etc.)
    • Text-expansion software: TextExpander
    • Screencast utilities: ScreenFlow, Camtasia

Chapter 6 - Delegate

  • Delegation process:
    • Decide what to delegate
    • Select the best person
    • Communicate the workflow
    • Provide the necessary resources
    • Specify the delegation level
  • Five Levels of Delegation
    1. Do exactly what asked
    2. Research a topic and revert back to you
    3. Research, outline options, and make a recommendation
    4. Research, make a decision, execute, and update you later
    5. Do everything and no need to report back

Part 3 - Act

Chapter 7 - Consolidate

  • Task switching is costly (cf Cal Newport), so batch (or MegaBatch) your work
  • Front stage: tasks you are hired specifically to accomplish
    • There should be significant overlap between front stage and your desire zone
  • Back stage: behind the scenes that enables front stage to happen
  • Off stage: when you're not working
  • Plan your ideal week
    • Batch your weekly activities by stage
    • Plan general themes: self, work, rejuvenation,
    • Place activities under those themes

Chapter 8 - Designate

  • The Weekly Preview
    • List your biggest wins
    • Review the prior week
    • Review your lists/notes to either: eliminate, schedule, prioritize, or defer tasks
    • Check goals, projects, events, meetings, deadlines
    • Designate your Weekly Big 3

  • Spend 95% of your time on activities that are in quadrant's 1 and 2 of the Eisenhower Priority Matrix
  • Evaluate if tasks are urgent and important to you (not someone else)
  • Daily Big 3
    • The Pareto principle (80/20) applies to tasks
    • Writing out a dozen different tasks is a form of laziness
    • Complete your big 3 before noon

Chapter 9 - Activate

  • Minimize interruptions
    • Limit instant communication: turn off notifications, use Google voice to email for text
    • "an email inbox is like having a to-do list everyone in the world can populate" (211)
    • people will not respect your boundaries if you don't
  • Uphill vs downhill tasks: the uphill tasks are what usually create value (214)
  • Focus
    • technology like "Freedom"
    • music like "Focus@Will"
    • design your environment
    • declutter your workspace
    • increase your frustration tolerance

Topic: Productivity

Source: Fr. Raymund

Created: 2020-10-09
Updated: 2023-01-03-Tue