Making time for what matters | Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (authors of Sprint and Make Time, co-founders of Character Capital)

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Feb 11 2024 • 1 hr 35 mins

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky are the authors of best-selling books Sprint and Make Time. They have helped more than 300 teams design new products and bring them to market, including those at YouTube, Gusto, One Medical Group, and Slack. Jake and John are co-founders of the venture capital firm Character, where they support startups with capital and sprints. Previously, they were operating partners at Google Ventures and, before that, design leaders at Google, where John worked on Google Ads and YouTube and Jake helped build Gmail and co-founded Google Meet. In our conversation, we discuss:

• “Busy bandwagon” and “infinity pools”

• Creating one “highlight” each day

• Their four-part framework for productivity

• How to use the calendar to design your day

• How creating friction can help you avoid distractions

• Tips on creating a distraction-free phone

• Strategies for managing email and distractions

• The importance of reflecting on the day and making time for meaningful work

• Design sprints

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Find the full transcript at:

Where to find Jake Knapp:

• X:

• LinkedIn:

• Website:

Where to find John Zeratsky:

• X:

• LinkedIn:

• Website:

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• X:

• LinkedIn:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) About Jake and John

(04:10) Recording the audiobook for Make Time

(06:06) What people often get wrong when trying to become more productive

(11:24) The busy bandwagon and infinity pools

(15:22) Real talk: Jake and John’s productivity levels

(20:10) The four-part framework for getting more done: Highlight, Laser, Energize, Reflect

(25:15) Step 1: Highlight

(28:08) Designing your day with a calendar

(30:52) The Groundhog Day mentality

(35:10) Tactical advice for implementing the highlight method

(39:30) An example of a failed highlight

(48:08) Step 2: Laser

(51:12) Creating intentional friction to avoid distractions

(57:28) Curating a distraction-free phone

(01:07:58) Resetting expectations and slowing your inbox

(01:14:51) Systems over willpower

(01:18:14) Managing email distractions

(01:18:49) Step 3: Energize

(01:22:05) Step 4: Reflect

(01:26:30) Introduction to Sprint


Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day:

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days:

• Make Time blog:

• Make Time blog on X:

• Character:

• Google Ventures:

• Character Labs:

• Strategies for becoming less distracted and improving focus | Nir Eyal (author of Indistractable and Hooked):

Groundhog Day on Prime Video:


• Feed Blocker for LinkedIn:

The Lord of the Rings:

• MagSafe charger:

• Nanit app:

• Arianna Huffington’s Phone Bed Charging Station:

• Cell Phone Lock Box with Timer:

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich:

The Economist:

• Odysseus:

• Mailman:

• Future:

• Notion:

• Miro:

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Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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