How I Work

Ex-Google Ventures designer John Zeratsky on structuring your day around a highlight, his daily reflection ritual, and the pro-human smartphone.

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Episode notes

My guest today is John Zeratsky, otherwise known as JZ. JZ is a veteran technology designer, keynote speaker, and the bestselling author of Sprint and Make Time.JZ has worked with more than 200 of the world’s most important and innovative organizations, including Google, Harvard University, Slack, IDEO, and Netflix. For nearly 15 years, JZ was a designer for technology companies. At Google Ventures, he helped develop the Design Sprint and worked with startups like Uber, 23andMe, Flatiron Health, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Nest. Previously, he was a designer at YouTube, Google, and FeedBurner. I am a huge fan of both of JZ’s books and had his co-author, Jake Knapp, on How I Work about a year ago which is an interview you might want to check out too. I think you will find this interview super practical - and note, it was conducted BC (before corona), so if some things seem out of context, like our talk about travel, just keep that in mind. In this interview, we cover: - The problematic default behaviours we have at work - How JZ structures his workdays - Creating a distraction-free phone - JZ’s daily reflection ritual - Making sure every day has a “highlight” - and how to work out what your highlight should be - How JZ’s approach to structuring his day has changed from leaving Google Ventures to working for himself  - JZ’s approach to making email processing as efficient as possible - Why JZ doesn’t have a to-do list, and instead, has a “might-do” list - The pro-human smart phone - JZ’s litmus test as to whether he is using his phone wisely - How JZ schedules walking breaks into his day - How JZ uses a calendar template to help optimise his day - JZ’s home game routine versus his away game routine (for when he is travelling) - JZ’s go-to apps and software You can find JZ here and here, and on LinkedIn and Twitter. Buy Make Time and Sprint and enrol yourself in the Highlight Course here.  Visit for full show notes from all episodes. Get in touch at [email protected] If you are looking for more tips to improve the way you work, I write a short monthly newsletter that contains three cool things that I have discovered that help me work better, which range from interesting research findings through to gadgets I am loving. You can sign up for that at   

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