Free to Focus Book Review

Michael Hyatt has written several fantastic books and Free to Focus is no exception. It takes a very practical approach to implementing real change.


There are innumerable productivity systems, tips, hacks, and ideas out there, but as a productivity “junky,” this is one of my all-time favorites. Michael Hyatt uses research, data, and personal examples to walk the reader through a tried and true system. He gives us three simple (not easy, but simple) steps: 1) Stop 2) Cut and 3) Act. Following these steps allows us to eliminate what is unnecessary and focus on what really matters.

Key Takeaways

Productivity is not about getting more done; it’s about getting the right things done. The “right” things are as unique as each individual. So many of us implement some time management strategy only to fill our “saved time” with something new, not necessarily something important. Truly focusing on the right things first requires us to dive into what we value most, which work gives us the most reward, knowing our why, and operating in our zone of genius. We all have a to-do list. Often it is overwhelming, never-ending, and discouraging. Hyatt suggests a not-do list – avoiding total burnout involves learning the art of using the word “no.” We’ve all heard that no is a complete sentence, yet without being intentional about what we will not do, we find ourselves saying yes as a default. Sometimes there are people in our lives we struggle saying no to, so we need to prepare ourselves for the no. As with all change, creating habits is the basis for creating a life of intentionality. Your habits should support not only what you want to focus on, but who you want to be in the process. This book is filled not only with great ideas, great examples, but also valuable resources to truly implement as you read.

Digging Deeper

“The important people in my life deserve the very best of me” (p. 36): I recently heard again that in a study of elderly individuals, the one thing they all had in common was a wish that they had spent less time at work and more time with their family and friends. We often get convinced that more is better. More money, more work, more accomplishments, more opportunities. Yet at the end of life, the biggest regret is relationship. What if we learned from the mistakes of our elders and truly lived a life on purpose? A life designed around what is most important to us. We really can have it all – the career, the family, the relationships – if we focus on what is most important and say no to all of the rest. That first requires us to hone in, dig deep, and determine what success means for us. Then eliminate, delegate, and automate the rest. It’s your life – you get to choose how you spend it. Be intentional and focus on what matters most to you.

Limiting beliefs (p. 59): Limiting beliefs hold all of us back from reaching our fullest potential. They can affect every area of our lives, but only if we allow it. Our belief system is as old as we are. It is made up of our past – the story we tell ourselves. Some of it is true, but some of it is not. I have heard over and over that “there aren’t enough hours in the day” or “I just didn’t have tim.” But the truth is this we do have enough time; we just don’t always spend it wisely. Time is like money: we are either spending it or investing it. We have to shift our mindset to allow for change. Consider Hyatt’s example and reframe “I don’t have enough time” to “I have all the time I need to accomplish what matters most.” This perspective shift alone can be life-changing. Change is hard and real, lasting change is harder, but it is possible when we evaluate our beliefs and open ourselves to the possibility that we can do hard things by focusing on what and who matters most.