Table of contents:

How to choose the main task for the day in order to catch the most important things and enjoy life
How to choose the main task for the day in order to catch the most important things and enjoy life

An excerpt from the book "Find the Time" by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky tells about a system that will help you slow down a little and reduce the noise of the surrounding world.

How to choose the main task for the day in order to catch the most important things and enjoy life
How to choose the main task for the day in order to catch the most important things and enjoy life

The first stage of the “Find time” system is the choice of the Main, the most important task for the day. Next, you need to apply special tactics to keep the aiming (like a laser device) focus on this task. We will offer you a whole menu of tweaks to defeat all sorts of distractions in a world where everyone is constantly “in touch”. Throughout the day, you will be energized to keep your time and attention under control. Finally, you will engage in reflection, that is, pondering the past day, taking a few simple notes.

How to find time for the main thing
How to find time for the main thing

Start every day by choosing a focus point

The first step in Find Time is to decide what you need this time for. Every day you will choose one action in order to make it the main one and stake it on your calendar. This could be an important work task, such as completing a presentation. Or doing something at home, like making dinner or planting plants in the garden.

Your Main thing may well turn out to be something that you don't have to do, but just want to do, for example, play with the children or read a book. Moreover, it often includes several stages. For example, finishing a presentation involves writing conclusions, designing slides, and rehearsing a presentation. By making “the end of the presentation” Primary, you are promising yourself to complete all the steps in the process.

Of course, the main thing is not your only activity of the day, but the main one. The question "What will be the main thing for me on this day?" you encourage yourself to spend time doing things that matter to you, rather than wasting it reacting to other people's priorities. Choosing the Main, you thereby begin to think actively and positively.

We will help you with this and share our favorite tactical techniques for daily choosing the Main and freeing up time for its implementation. In addition, you will need to change your attitude towards distractions that may come your way. […]

We want you to start each day by thinking about what - you hope - will be your brightest spot.

Imagine in advance how in the evening someone will ask you: "What was the most important thing for you today?" Which of the events of the past day do you remember? Hours dedicated to what activity, or the joy of what achievement would you like to relive? This is your Main.

Keep in mind: this Main thing does not necessarily eat up the day without a trace. Most of us still cannot completely ignore incoming letters or refuse to carry out the orders of the boss. However, choosing Chief gives you the chance to decide how to organize your time, rather than letting technology, office defaults, and other people shape your agenda. Let the Employed Movement promote the daily pursuit of the highest possible productivity - we know that it is wiser to focus on your own priorities, albeit to the detriment of some of the current tasks on the list.

Your Main gives each day a focal point. Research has shown that your perception of life is not primarily determined by what is happening to you. In fact, you create your own reality by choosing what to pay attention to. For all the seeming obviousness, this is a very important conclusion. You are able to reshape time by choosing what to concentrate on. And your daily Main is the object of this concentration. […]

Chief Selection Criteria

Choosing the Main One begins with a question that you ask yourself: "What do I want to make the Main one today?" The answer is not always easy, especially if you have only recently started using the Find Time system. Sometimes there are many important tasks in front of your mind's eye. One is inspiring ("Bake H's Birthday Cake"), the other threatens with a deadline ("Finish a set of slides"), and the third is almost disgusting ("Put the rat traps in the garage"). How do you make a decision? When choosing the Chief, we are guided by one of three criteria.


The first criterion is urgency. What needs to be done today as soon as possible?

Have you ever spent hours digging through letters and sitting in meetings, and at the end of the day suddenly realize that you have not been able to carve out time for one single thing that really cannot be delayed? It happened to us. And very often. Whenever this happens, we feel very bad. Ah, these belated regrets!

If there is something hanging over you that today desperately needs to be done, let it become your Main. Such urgent matters can often be found in the usual list for the day, in the mail, in the calendar. Look for significant projects for which the deadline plays a significant role and which at the same time have, so to speak, average sizes (that is, they still require not ten minutes - but not ten hours).

Your urgent Main may be, for example:

  • Formulate a commercial proposal and send it to the customer, who expects to receive it by the end of the week.
  • Ask the owners of free sites and food suppliers to send you their terms - for the event that you organize at work.
  • Have time to cook dinner before friends arrive.
  • Help my daughter complete a large school project that she has to hand in tomorrow.
  • Edit vacation photos and post them for your relatives who really want to see them.


When applying the second criterion, ask yourself the question: "What is the Main thing that will bring me the most satisfaction at the end of the day?"

The first strategy allows you to determine what you need to do. And the second encourages you to focus on what you want to do.

Again, you can start with a to-do list. Focus not on timing and priorities this time. Take a different approach.

Think about the degree of satisfaction each of the possible Chiefs will bring you.

It should not be classified as urgent. Explore the projects you have wanted to take on for a long time, but just couldn't find the time. Perhaps you have a skill that you want to put into practice. Or maybe this is a hobby project that you want to quietly do before you tell the world about it. For such projects, despite their "non-urgency", delays are extremely disastrous.

Choosing the right Leader will help you break the vicious circle called "Someday I'll take it." Here are a few examples of The Main One That Brings Satisfaction:

  • Complete a business plan for a new project that inspires you. Share it with a few trusted colleagues.
  • Explore places where you can spend your next vacation with your family.
  • Sketch a section of the next chapter in your novel - 1,500 words. […]


The third criterion is joy. Ask yourself: "When I remember today's events in the evening, which one will please me the most?"

Not every hour needs to be optimized and tweaked to get the most out of it. One of the goals of our system is to take you away from the unrealizable ideal of extremely clearly planned days to a life in which there is more joy and less dissatisfaction with unpleasant things. So it’s worth doing some things simply because you enjoy doing them.

To others, your Joyful Main may sometimes seem like a waste of time: say, when it comes to sitting at home with a book, or throwing a frisbee with a friend in the park, or doing a crossword puzzle. But we don't think so. You are wasting time only if you do not treat it consciously and purposefully.

Joy can be received from the Chief of all kinds. Here are some examples:

  • Go to a housewarming party with friends.
  • Find chords for a new song.
  • Have lunch with a colleague who is a masterful storyteller.
  • Take your child to the playground.

Listen to your intuition

Which of the following strategies should you use on this or that day? It seems to us that when choosing the Chief it is best to trust your intuition. It will help you determine which Main is optimal for you today - urgent, satisfying or joyful.

At the same time, it is useful to consider how long this or that business will take. We advise you to choose the Main, which will take 60–90 minutes. If the task takes less than an hour, you will not have time to tune in to the right wave. And after an hour and a half of focused practice, most need a break. So, 60–90 minutes is the golden mean. During this time, you can manage to do something meaningful and important without drastically changing your schedule. We are convinced that by using the tactics described in this chapter and on other pages of the book, you will be able to allocate 60-90 minutes to your Main.

At the very beginning, the selection process may seem strange or difficult to you. Don't worry - this is completely normal. Gradually, you will get comfortable, and the choice will become easier and easier. And remember: completely failing the process of mastering our system is simply impossible. In addition, it is intended for daily use: what did not work out today, most likely, will work out tomorrow.

Of course, your Main is not some magic wand. By itself, the decision on what to spend the main efforts on one day or another does not guarantee a successful result. But conscious determination is the most important step towards freeing up extra time. Choosing the Leader means focusing on priorities. Thanks to her, you will be able to save time and energy for really important things, and not to constantly be distracted by other people's baits and respond to other people's demands.

Read about the other three steps of the system and practical ways to implement them in your daily life in Find the Time.