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 midset 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
  • 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

  • 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

  • Process automation

    • Document, optimize, test, and share processes

  • 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: 2022-07-16-Sat