Even in Early Retirement, You Still Have to Make Time // Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky // Our Next Life // financial independence, FIRE, early retirementwe've learned

Even in Early Retirement, You Have to Make Time // Q&A with John Zeratsky + Book Giveaway

If you find yourself in a group of aspiring early retirees, it takes all of about five seconds before it turns into a chorus of “I can’t wait to have more time to climb mountains!” “I can’t wait to have more time to read all the books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for years!” “I am going to run that marathon and renovate my house and travel to 100 countries in the next five years!” And on and on it goes. We’re an ambitious bunch with big dreams, which is one of my favorite things about our community.

But a rude awakening for us — us meaning Mark and me — in early retirement has been the realization that simply having more time doesn’t mean you actually spend that time in meaningful ways. As Robert S. Weiss says in his seminal work The Experience of Retirement, the freedom to do something also includes the freedom to do nothing. (And for real, sometimes doing nothing can feel amaaaaaazing. But not all the time or for very long. Hence the need for a boredom in early retirement series, which continues next week.)

Instead, even for those of us with loads of time, we still have to intentionally make time for the things that truly matter to us. Something that’s harder than ever in our distraction-filled world.

Even in Early Retirement, You Still Have to Make Time // Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky // Our Next Life // financia

I’ve written before that early retirement hasn’t magically “fixed” us. We’re not getting eight-plus hours of sleep every single night or hitting the gym every day without fail. We’re doing other meaningful things, which are fantastic, and Mark has been getting on his mountain bike and hitting the beach for volleyball like a champ this summer, so we’re not sitting around doing nothing. But we’ve definitely learned that it’s still up to us to be intentional about how we spend our time, and about making sure that we dedicate time to the important things. (And often that’s easier said than done.)

One Example: Date Nights

Mark and I have both worked from home for a long time, so even when I was traveling a ton for work, we still saw each other far more than most working couples, and because we also don’t have kids, there were fewer commitments pulling us in different directions. All the work stress and travel made it hard for us to be as good of partners to each other as we each wanted to be, and we assumed that having that stress lift in retirement, coupled with objectively more time together, would be the magic healing balm that would make our marriage perfect. (<– Slight grain of salt in there, but only slight.)

But, it turns out, just being in proximity to one another and not being super stressed about work – while great – isn’t miraculous all on its own. And midway through this year, we realized that even though we were spending a ton of time together and doing a lot of stuff together, we felt in some ways like we were neglecting the relationship. Because the things we were doing were about some activity. Or about showing guests around. Or about completing some project. They weren’t about us. You might be sitting together on the couch, but if you’re each face-down in your phone, you might as well be in different rooms.

And so we decided that we still need to make time for date nights and dedicated us time. On some level it sounds weird to say that, but that’s something we’re now consciously making time for.

That example, of still needing to have date nights, gets at a larger point, though. That sometimes in working toward making more time for things we value, we don’t stop to think about whether we really have the skills or tools to make the most of that time, or whether we’ll just fritter it away, lost in distractions, wondering where the days, weeks and months went. There’ve been times this year when I’ve worried that I don’t have those skills, and so I’m open to any help I can get to help me tune out distractions and actually do the things I retired to do.

Expert Help to Make Time // Q&A With John Zeratsky

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, authors of the New York Times bestselling book Sprint* have just come out with a new book, Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day. I had the privilege of reading it early, and got a ton out of it, even though on paper I have all the time in the world and should have no trouble fitting in the things that are most important to me in my daily life. And a fun fact for the FI community is that John Zeratsky is “one of us,” an alternate lifestyle designer who used to have a high-powered tech career in Silicon Valley, but instead of blowing through all his money like his peers, he and his wife saved their money so that they could walk away from their, live on a sailboat for an extended period and now work only on projects they feel passionate about.

As he and his wife Michelle wrote on their blog, Particular Harbor,

We’re a San Francisco couple in our 30s, sailing south aboard our Outbound 46 Pineapple. In 2017, we quit our jobs, gave up our apartment, sold our stuff, sailed out the Golden Gate, turned left, and began cruising the Pacific coast from California toward Panama. We don’t know quite where we’re going or when we’ll be back… but we know it’ll be an amazing adventure.

So obviously I didn’t just want to give away the book, I also wanted to hear from John some of the lessons he’s learned that especially apply to the FIRE community. (And keep reading to enter to win a signed copy of Make Time.)


Tanja: Thanks for taking the time for a Q&A, John, and congrats on the new book! I loved reading it, and feel like there’s a ton in it that will resonate with folks pursuing financial independence, early retirement or some alternate life vision, namely the emphasis on focusing on what’s important to you and creating systems to get rid of all the non-essential time clutter.

John Zeratsky: Even though this book is about time, not money, I got a lot of inspiration from the FIRE community while writing it. Make Time is about examining, questioning, and changing the defaults that unconsciously drive our everyday decisions about time. And FIRE folks do the same thing, taking a skeptical look at so-called “normal” money behaviors so they can design a remarkable life for themselves.

T: I love the idea of the design sprint, which is what your last book is all about, and even if it’s not exactly the same, I was really inspired by the concept of the sprint, and use similar thinking when I’m trying to get through big projects that require a lot of problem solving. Just to give folks some background, how would you explain a design sprint for those who aren’t in tech or design? Is it something people can use outside of work, in their daily lives? (Because you know I love busting the myth that anything is just for tech folks.)

JZ: 🤓 A design sprint is a structured 5-day process for any team who wants to quickly test something new before committing weeks or months or years of time to it. In a sprint, teams work together face-to-face to generate solutions, decide which ones are most promising, build a prototype of those solutions, and test with real customers.

We developed it while working with tech startups in Silicon Valley, but it can be used for any kind of new product, marketing, process… or anything really! We’ve heard stories of sprints from Prudential Insurance, the United Nations, the British Museum, KLM (the airline), and plenty more teams. Many of those are published at Sprint Stories.

T: You’ve managed to design a pretty sweet lifestyle for yourself, going on an extended sailing trip, writing multiple books, and now working only on projects that you’re passionate about. With so much flexibility built into your life, do you find it easy to make time for everything you want to do, or do you still need a system like the one in the book to help you? (Like, ahem, I still do.)

JZ: I definitely struggle with distraction, focus, and energy. Modern technologies like smartphones and social media are SO compelling and SO addictive, it’s easy to get sucked in. And there’s such a strong default orientation in our culture toward doing more and doing it faster: responding to emails, saying yes to meetings, volunteering for projects, etc.

One of the secrets to making time is accepting that you can’t do everything. When we focus on productivity, we can do more… but we feel like we have less time because it all makes us busier and more scattered and more distracted. Our goal with Make Time is help people slow down and spend time on the things that are really important—while saying no to the things that we often do by default.

For me, the ideas in Make Time are kind of my guiding principles, or mantras, that I come back to again and again. When I feel myself getting sucked into Infinity Pool apps or swept up in the Busy Bandwagon, I return to the lessons in the book and press the reset button.

T: I think that’s such an important point that we might get a lot done when we focus on productivity, but we end up feeling crazed on on-track for burnout. And oh my gosh, Twitter is totally my Infinity Pool. Certainly many people find that they spend a ton of time on Facebook, Instagram or another social platform and can relate. I know you use Twitter because we’ve chatted there! How do you manage to keep social media and the internet in general from derailing the things you most want to get done?

JZ: Haha, yeah! I love Twitter and I use it a lot. Jake helped design Gmail and I worked at YouTube. So we have a long and tumultuous history with the Internet :) We want to maintain control of our time and attention, but we don’t want to swear off the Internet or social media forever. That’s unrealistic, and besides… these technologies are actually pretty amazing!

Some of the tactics from the book that help me keep it all in perspective:

Distraction-Free Phone—I don’t have any Infinity Pools apps installed on my phone. That means no email, no Twitter, no news, no stock market, etc on my phone. This removes 90% of the temptation to do a “quick” check of email or Twitter or whatever.

Log Out—On my computer, I have changed all my passwords (for Twitter etc) to impossible-to-remember strings and put them in a password manager (I use 1Password). When I’m not using Twitter, I log out. I don’t have it in my bookmark bar or new tab screen. That way, when I semi-unconsciously type “twitter.com” (this happens multiple times a day ☺️) I see the login screen instead of the feed. This forces me to slow down and think, “do I really want to be on Twitter right now?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but often it is no.

Turn Distractions Into Tools—Instead of using Twitter as a broad source of entertainment, I have a couple very specific things I use it for: responding to readers, following a narrow set of people and blogs, etc. Reframing Twitter as a tool helps me use it in a focused, intentional way.

T: I don’t know if I’m quite ready to take all those apps off my phone just yet and log out of everything on my browser – I’m still working on staying consistently under 30 tabs! But I definitely see how powerful it would be to take those steps. For those who aren’t quite ready to log out of every social program every time they use it, what’s one step everyone can take right now to make time for something important today?

JZ: Since I already mentioned the Distraction-Free Phone which, honestly, is life changing, I recommend that folks try setting a daily Highlight. Think about one activity or project you want to prioritize in your day. It can be something at home or at work; something time-sensitive or just something you’ve been meaning to get to. Target an activity that takes 60–90 minutes, then look for ways to plan your day around it.

This simple practice can be really helpful. You might be surprised how just thinking about your Highlight can help you make small tweaks to how you spend your time. Even if you make zero changes to your calendar as a result, the anticipation and enjoyment of a special moment can make the whole day better.

T: That makes so much sense to me. That’s how our memories work anyway: we think back to the highlight of a day, a week or a trip. So, speaking of trips – is that an awkward segue or what? – you just wrapped up a life list-worthy sailing trip that, if I took it, I would tell everyone about every day forever until they refused to talk to me anymore. So that we may all live vicariously through you, can you please share the coolest moment on your extended sail?

JZ: So hard to pick one. A few:

  • Anchoring in remote bays in Costa Rica where there were no one ashore and no other boats around us.
  • Hanging out in Chacala, Mexico, a few days before Christmas. The beach bars had bands playing music ’til late into the night.
  • Arriving in new towns and cities with our home! It’s such a cool feeling to experience new places and cultures while having the stability and familiarity of our routines and our boat.

T: Life list stuff for sure. How is it now being back on dry land most days?

JZ: It’s pretty great. We have a new appreciation for the basic luxuries of 21st Century life in the USA… dishwashers, fast Internet, Uber, etc. We’re also enjoying feeling like productive members of society again. Travel and leisure are great, but nothing beats a sense of purpose and community.

T: Such an important reminder!

In addition to grabbing the book, you can also visit the Make Time book website, follow John on Twitter or check out Jake and John’s blog and newsletter Time Dorks.

The Giveaway!

I’m super excited to be giving away a copy of John and Jake’s wonderful new book Make Time*, one I recommend to anyone looking to minimize distractions and actually make the things happen that you want to create space for in your life. One reader in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy, signed by John, and you can enter by answering this question as a comment on this post: What do you want to make more time for, and what is currently your biggest distraction or time waster? (Note: Just commenting something like “I would like to win the book!” does not count as an entry. Let’s have an actual discussion!) The giveaway closes at midnight Pacific time on Friday, October 5, 2018, and the winner will be randomly selected from among eligible commenters. (Please include your email address when you comment – only visible to me – so that I can contact you if you win.) Good luck!

*The book links here are affiliate links, which I use sparingly on the blog. You can always find the affiliate links and affiliate income policy on the Resources page, but here it is again: 

Our Next Life is not monetized, for a whole bunch of reasons. However, there are some large costs involved with operating the blog and newsletter that make this an expensive hobby, one that’s hard to justify on a retired budget. The books I recommend include affiliate links, and the revenue from them (around $.46 per book purchased) covers a small fraction of the out-of-pocket costs of providing ad-free, unsponsored content to you at no charge. My aim with the affiliate links is — absolute best case — to break even on out-of-pocket expenses, so that providing this content isn’t a money pit for us. But here’s my commitment: In any calendar year in which affiliate income fully covers the cost of web hosting, photo editing and email list maintenance (the latter is the biggest expense by far!), I will donate all earnings above and beyond expenses to charity directly or to our donor advised fund for charitable giving, for the remainder of that year. And of course I’m thrilled if you go check these books out at the library instead!

Now go enter the giveaway! :-)

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54 replies »

  1. I just finished and enjoyed Deep Work by Cal Newport and would love to read more about how to make time for important stuff. And John’s story is lifestyle design goals for sure! I’m taking steps in that direction (the lifestyle design; retirement is a ways off). If I had more time, I’d start a lifestyle design coaching side hustle. Biggest distraction? Probably not having enough large chunks of time to really think and plan. With the phase of family and W2 life that I’m in currently, I have to optimize around the day-to-day stuff that has to get done. But I’m enjoying being inspired by what others have done.

    • Deep Work is a great book!

      Coming up with those large chunks of time can be tough. When I was working in tech, I really struggled with that. A few things that helped me:
      – Getting up extra early so I had some uninterrupted time in the morning
      – Scheduling meetings with myself before that time could get gobbled up by others
      – Delaying small, non-time-sensitive tasks till later, then catching up on a batch of small tasks all at once

      There are a bunch more tips like that in the book. But I think the most important thing is starting! No one can completely remake their life overnight. We all have to start small and build from there.

      • Great ideas. I especially like the idea of batching small tasks, I could definitely do more of that. Look forward to reading your book!

  2. Biggest distraction is my five employees who are constantly interrupting me. I appreciate their desire to learn, confirm, etc., but I don’t think I’ve had a complete thought in years.

    • Georgia:
      You do not mention your industry, but one thing that seems to work in the legal industry is block calendaring. E.g. Making consistent blocks of time each day or week that lend structure to your day. You can block time for them to ask you questions, learn things, confirm, etc. Or block an hour each week for staff development, so everyone knows that they will be there learning and asking questions at a certain time, then they can fully develop their questions, formulate follow up questions, brainstorm possible solutions, and most importantly STOP INTERRUPTING YOU! Every time you are interrupted it takes five to ten minutes to get back into what you are doing.

  3. I would like to make more time for healthy cooking, and Facebook is absolutely my biggest distraction.

    • Cooking is an amazing thing to prioritize, because it brings some calm into your day, forces you to use your body, and tends to be healthier than restaurant food!

      I have never had a huge Facebook problem, but my Twitter-control techniques—removing the app from my phone, then changing my password and logging out on my computer—have REALLY helped. Same thing would work well for Facebook.

  4. I need more time for cultivating relationships with my kids. They’re not getting any younger! I’d say non-important tasks are my biggest distraction. The counter doesn’t HAVE to be cleared right this second.

  5. I would like to make time for some personal “important but not urgent” projects that I never get around to. Maybe sewing (for example) isn’t THAT important but it makes me happy and feeds my spirit.

    My biggest distraction is this volunteer housing project I’m working on — it’s a great idea, and will be valuable contribution, but it’s a black hole of time! There’s always something that needs to be done….

  6. I want to make more time for my family and my wellness. My biggest time wasters are reading the news and Instagram!

    I deactivated from Facebook one year ago and never looked back, experimenting with somehow hiding/locking myself out of Instagram during the day.

    • Hey Kate, have you tried removing the Instagram from your phone—even just for a few days, as an experiment?

      If you need even more powerful help, you could try an app like Freedom, that actually locks you out of certain apps/sites.

  7. This was a great post! I think I’m actually really good at making time for what I want to do outside of work (for me, that’s running, hanging out with my husband and dog, and knitting), but I’m less good about my time at work. I would love to take advantage of the extensive and super-useful free training tracks that my work offers, but I never feel like I have time, even as I see myself wasting a bunch of 10-minute scraps of time throughout the day on the internet (mainly scrolling through Instagram, which I justify by telling myself that my brain needs a break). I’d love to gather those time scraps together into an hour spent working through a useful training module.

    I’ve tried breaking up with Instagram fully, but my problem is that I get a lot of inspiration and community from Instagram related to my knitting habit, which I love. I like John’s suggestion to use social media as a targeted tool and not to log in without a specific purpose in mind. I will see if I can make that happen!

    • Ah, I’m the same way with social media “breaks”! Trouble is, they aren’t really breaks, and after I take a “break” from work to look at Twitter, I feel like I need another break 😰

      On the other hand, when I “save up” the fun stuff on Twitter, etc for later… it’s like a mega dose of awesomeness, instead of an IV drip. So I’m trying to do that more 🤩

  8. I’ve been in retirement for about 18 months now, not a real early retirement, but I’m just the conservative type.

    I really want to continue in my retirement years what I practiced in my working years , since I consider my process mostly successful.

    No real magic here just a lot of common sense and staying focused on my priorities. I spent my working life on technology sales, consulting and management. I had my best results when I set my goals and then worked them every day, or at least as much vigor as possible that day.

    I found repeatedly that attempting big things was alway easier if you chip away day by day. I’ve never found a goal worth chasing that didn’t require long term focus with short term movement.

    This works whether your are implementing a big project or just trying to renew your golf game after 10 years.

    So I find myself in retirement with much more free time, but I still need to look at how to chip away towards success at many levels. If I can find even better approaches to my time management skills all the better. I have way more to do than I have time so I welcome the insights of others.

    I haven’t learned to sail yet, so maybe that’s something to add to my list🤔

  9. I just got through reading every Our Next life post from the beginning! What might be obvious from that statement is that one of my biggest distractions is FI blogs. I enjoy reading blogs (especially this one) from their start and following along on the journey in an expedited fashion. However, it does lead to a LOT of time reading blogs. Now that I’ve gotten through this one, my favorite by far, I think I can slow down. I also waste time on Facebook. If I were able to stop wasting time I’d like to be able to use that to find the things that I really want to do in retirement! I have several hobbies right now that’d I’d like to have more time for but I’d like to find something that would be really fulfilling long term.

  10. I can definitively say that I don’t get to (read: make time to) read actual books enough these days! I love reading, but it’s so easy to get sucked into attention-grabbing clickbait headlines that I end up doing most of my information consumption that way. Which leads into my time-suck: Twitter. It’s terrible, and there are always “important”-looking posts to scroll through.

  11. Wow, this was a great post. As an early retiree, I have felt those time sucks these past 15 months and I did some “radical” things to change my habits – including deleting my twitter account and trying to delete my facebook account (the delete wouldn’t work for some reason but I deactivated and didn’t use it for 3 months). I’m back on both, but in a much more intentional way and definitely don’t have either app on my phone. I like the additional barrier of having a super hard to remember password and logging off and on (I’m not consistent about logging off and I know my password by heart). I also cut back on reading blogs and now only follow 2-3 at any given time. My first 9 months of retirement I didn’t set an alarm at all and just sort of woke up whenever (I have a nearly 11 year old, so I still had to get up and do things), but 4-5 months ago, I started getting up and working out nearly every weekday morning. It sounds weird, but having that discipline allows me to have more spontaneous days. My fitness is a big priority for me so instead of having to figure out when I am going to do it every day, I’ve automated the process and just get up, get it done and then move on and enjoy the rest of my day. At first it seemed like a slog to have to get up so early every morning, but I’ve come to enjoy the discipline of it.

    I also notice that I have more focused days when I write out ahead of time what I want to accomplish – I tend to write out a list for the week and add or subtract things as they come up. I like having spontaneity in my days so like having blank space too. I’m going to put this book on my library list (unless I win) and I think this is going to open my mind up to some additional strategies on making time. I need to clean up a couple things on my phone. It’s hard to decide exactly how to manage it because I sometimes go days, even maybe a week without getting on the computer and so I use my phone as my main device. But it’s so worth questioning.

    Thank you again for this great post and interview!

    • Wow! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and it sounds like your SUPER on top of managing your time, attention, and energy! Nicely done, and thanks for sharing what’s worked for you. Especially this:

      “I started getting up and working out nearly every weekday morning. It sounds weird, but having that discipline allows me to have more spontaneous days. My fitness is a big priority for me so instead of having to figure out when I am going to do it every day, I’ve automated the process and just get up, get it done and then move on and enjoy the rest of my day.”

      That kind of “automation” is so so helpful.

  12. Thanks for sharing this great Q&A! That sailing trip sounds EPIC.

    I think I’m actually trying to make more time for reading books/novels and other non-tech activities. I spend all day on the computer at work, my commute scrolling through twitter and i often plop on the couch when i get home to watch hulu/netflix to “detress” but i don’t feel great about my % of screen time vs non-screen time. Also, as much as i like to think its relaxing to stream shows, it often doesn’t make me feel better as much as other activities do (reading, drawing, crafting, etc.)

    So I guess this is me committing to make more time for non-tech leisure time, bonus points if its reading or creating something. I may dabble with the app removals on my phone, but maybe one at a time so i don’t go into total shock…

  13. seems like a book worth reading, thanks for bringing it to our attention. I want to make more time for working out consistently, especially doing some strength training. I know it’s not an uncommon aspiration, but it’s real for me. And some of my biggest distractions are being on-line reading lots of blogs and googling about how to deal with sequence of return risk, including learning and reading about the safety first philosophy of investing. Hoping to retire in about 6 months and these things are on my mind. Can’t seem to ever feel satisfied with steps already taken….

  14. I want to make nowm time to volunteer each day. I keep making excuses but I have the time and can do little things from home some days, and bigger projects other days. Facebook is my worst, too, though I’ve gotten much better. It’s off my phone and I’m trying to consciously think about using it. Logging out is a great idea. I’d quit completely, but still like being connected to friends and events in my community.

  15. Having taken a few short work sabbaticals, I know that having 8+ extra hours / day doesn’t automatically make me into a better person who meditates, works out, reads books, takes online classes, cooks food, walks homeless dogs, visits family, and travels the world. But, those are the things I’d like to make more time for. Especially spending time with family young and old in a way not cabined by business hours and 2-day weekends. I know that time/energy are finite and that I’m still only likely to accomplish a daily highlight or two, but I’d like to have the freedom for that highlight to be one of the activities mentioned rather than work-related. My biggest distraction is all of the internet. I’m a maximizer, so if I’m researching something online, I’m going deep into time-suck internet rabbitholes.

  16. I would love to make time for my two year old daughter, who is our miracle child after several years of trying, giving up, then having our miracle happen. What gets in the way is caring for elderly parents with cognitive and physical challenges and an inflexible full time job. I watch too much Netflix to relax at night as well : ) Many thanks for considering me for the book!

  17. I would love to make more time for reading– on vacations I absolutely devour book after book, but during working life I get sucked into The Great British Baking Show, eating dinner, and a quick walk before bed. Also, writing. I started my own blog in order to carve out a specific space where I can write and it has been extremely rewarding so far, even though my readership is tiny (I got 60 views yesterday and was pretty excited)

    My biggest distraction: personal finance blogs!!! Whoops. I’m currently being distracted by this one. I should go back to work now… Actual time waster would probably be Reddit. I once went reddit free for two weeks and didn’t even notice that it was gone. Why did I go back??? Now I waste so much time scrolling.

  18. I want to make more time for adventure. Big and small adventures. Whether just going out for a local hike with my dog, or joining a local bike race, or bigger travelling adventures across the world. I get so much excitement and enjoyment from challenging myself and trying new things. Work is generally the biggest time suck getting in the way, and when work is done there are all the errands and household chores that need to be done.

  19. I think I have an endless list of things I want to make time for. Volunteering more for a few local non-profits, more time to dedicate to my family, more time to get sleep so I can be the best version of myself, and all the other fun stuff like travel, yoga, friends, museums……

    My husband does struggle with what he wants to leave work for. He’s smart enough to know that he needs something to do, but is so bogged down with the everyday drudgery that he can’t imagine what that might be. So having some good references may be helpful for all of us to figure out what the next steps will be.

    Obviously our daily jobs take up a majority of our time, driving to and from them that adds up to an hour a day, then keeping the household running, cleaning, cooking, taking kids places, by the time you’re done with the necessary things I’ve found I’m too tired to do anything useful.

  20. I would like more time for my four kids kids! They are changing so fast!

    I find the biggest distraction to be work related tasks. As a teacher, I have lesson planning and emails to catch up on over the weekend and evenings are grading and recording grades. However, it’s making our lifestyle possible, so it’s not all bad!

  21. I spend two hours on trains each day commuting to/from the city. When I’m focused, it’s great time to get work done. But if I’m even a little worn out, it’s a lot more fun to read ONL, PoF, a couple other FIRE blogs, Humans of New York … so I guess I’d really like to get better at using that time effectively, since it turns my commute into productive work time. Then I have to spend fewer early mornings or evenings catching up.

    Intrigued by the idea of cancelling email on my phone. I deactivated facebook a couple years ago and only reactivate occasionally (it IS fun to catch up with global friends periodically). Never did Insta or Twitter – too inclined to social media addiction. If I could design the perfect phone, it would basically be an old motorola flip or razr but with a keyboard for text messages. And a navigation app. And audible.com for long drives. And a weather app. But that’s it. Except maybe for a way to look up restaurants and stuff and see if they’re open. So maybe yelp and/or trip advisor. But that’s really it.

  22. I’m just returning to teaching after a two-year hiatus home with my kids, and one thing I want to improve is the quality of time I spend with my kids now. After work it is more tempting to veg out with TV and such, but I want to make more time for playing outside with them and talking with them about their day.

    I also want to make more time for writing, which I love to do, but don’t always focus on now that I’m in the classroom again. Love your ideas about unplugging from screens to make the most of the time you have!

  23. I’d like to make time to meditate. My biggest distraction is my phone in general…Instagram is probably the worst offender. I even find myself thinking about Instagram while doing other activities, like hiking. As in…oooh! This will make a great Instagram shot! There’s something not right about that.

  24. Oh boo, missed the deadline for book giveaway. I’ll have to check it out. I’d like to make more time to relax and sleep at night and ideally some margin to handle emergencies and change. My biggest issues preventing that is trying to be a good parent to 3 kids, a good employee, a good spouse, a good daughter, and a good citizen. I have made some progress to carve out time by giving up all social media and TV, unsubscribe from email lists and no longer reading new FI posts the day they come out but still struggling in other areas.

    My biggest distraction is seeing others struggling and not helping. For example I talked to my boss about working less, she agreed and reassigned some of my projects. But then I see my coworker struggling a few months later with her own work and my former project when we are short staffed due to illness or vacations and find myself working more to help her. Another example is I reluctantly gave up a volunteer position to create more time. No one else stepped up so it is currently unfilled and I am having a hard time seeing the people it served going without. How do I watch others suffer when me relaxing seems less important?

  25. Hello Tanja and John,

    Great post and interview. I have heard from so many people at the ChooseFI podcast that you are their favorite blog, and I can see why. Your posts are very thorough and you really build a community from your readerships. It is fun to hear that John is part of the FI community too! I only recently found out about the community, but reading people’s experiences is certainly inspiring.

    I think my biggest distraction at the moment is chatting on forums instead of taking action. Asking for tips, and reading questions that others have can be helpful, but only to an extent. For example, I would like to purchase an investment property; however, I end up spending time chatting to people who have all different strategies for buying and holding or selling or renovating, etc. From reading books and what experts have to say about property investment. I have a fairly good idea about strategies that work. The next step is taking the leap. I can see that I am distracting myself for reassurance–but sometimes that’s not how investing works. That’s not how you grow-you have to be a little uncomforable.

  26. I’d like to find more time to get out and enjoy time outside hiking with my dogs and exploring the gorgeous state that I live in. I’m self employed and am having a hard time balancing work and fun. I’m finally realizing that I don’t need to work as much as I do, and that I am at a place in my life when I should be saying “no” to more work.

  27. Make Time sounds like a great read-would love to win the book in the giveaway…and something I would pass along to friends who would appreciate it too. What I would like to make more time for: writing on our blog about travels and adventures we’ve had. I love writing and editing photos, adding details that I think would be informative to others but sometimes it seems like a huge task that will take many hours and many days, just to get one post up. Biggest time waster-reading other people’s travel blogs and adventure articles……inspiring but doesn’t help me get my own post up any faster!
    Thanks for the great article!

  28. I want to make more time for yoga and quality time with my husband, and I’m ashamed to admit that phone games are my biggest distraction.

  29. Can’t wait to read both their books! This subject matter is what I am so passionate about. I want to make more time for new experiences (breaking out of the rut of routine!) My biggest distraction is spending too much time on FB and IG watching other people live their lives (travel, fashion, lifestyle, FIRE, etc.)

  30. I need to make more time for myself and rest since I’ve been busy enough that I’m both stressed and mildly sick often. Social media is my biggest time waster. There’s a lot of good on social media–Twitter!–but if I don’t limit myself, it can easily get out of control.

  31. Make Time sounds like an awesome tool to help me prioritize my goals! I would want to make more time for a variety of things: I’d love more time to work on a fantasy novel that is currently small ideas in my head and notebook. My current biggest time waster (if I can’t count work lol) would be Youtube. I can spend hours watching videos on internet news, videogame tournaments, or funny videos recommended by Reddit.
    Great article! Your segue comment made me chuckle.

  32. Hi, for some reason I am not receiving your newsletter. I wasn’t sure where I could email you so I’m leaving this comment. Can you help me? I check my junk mailbox all the time. I couldn’t find an email address for you on your website. Love the blog and the content! My husband and I are learning so much from you! Thank you!

  33. Hello,

    I want to make more time for everything basically – but definitely my kids / family. What is my biggest distraction? Life! We haven’t reached FIRE yet (less than 2 years away)… the most exhausting part is teaching (I’m a FT public school teacher) and trying to keep up w/ the rest of life. Funny, when I am off (June – early August) … I STILL feel like it is hard to keep up with everything (but I am generally way less exhausted during that time!).

    -Tara / Four Take Flight

  34. Hello! At the risk of sounding awful (but honest), I would like to make time for my kids. They are 3 and 1. I don’t spend a lot of time at home due to commuting to/from work and then my actual work. So when I am home in the mornings, I typically spend them trying to get ready for the day/night and they are left to entertain themselves-my biggest distractor. I realize that’s not the worst, but when my 3 year old asks me to play with him and I say no because I’m doing chores, it stings the heart a little bit.

  35. I want to make time to add daily exercise to my routine, or exercise a few times a week at least. My biggest time waster was DEFINITELY Facebook. Just yesterday, however, I logged out for at least a month, to practice for an audition. I am considering keeping off facebook on my phone, like the authors above suggest, so that my phone is less of a time suck. We shall see how it goes!
    Mr. Planning on Fire

  36. The way that time seems to go by faster as you age is so not fair. There’s so much that I want to make time for – my family, learning new a new language (or 2), learning to play an instrument, sewing my own things, biking, hiking and on and on.

    My biggest time waster is work. I have a really good job and work with a great bunch of people, but I definitely spend way too much time there. As a departmental head it feels like it’s a steady stream of requests for my time and attention. It makes it hard to balance.

    Tanja, your blog is one of my favs. Your topics are thought provoking, your approach is balanced, and you seem transparent. I also appreciate the female voice (girl power). It’s my goal to get to one of the FIRE events and nerd out with all of you who been so great to share your journey to freedom with us.

  37. I want to make more time to REALLY CONNECT with family and friends – enjoy and pay real attention to everything and everyone right here. The biggest rabbit hole I’ve been falling down this past year is the early retirement math and planning… it can get addictive, and has been way more so as we get close to FI. That’s great, but I don’t want to be so busy planning our future that I miss life here and now!