September 5, 2011

18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things DoneDrawing from his Harvard Business Review columns, Peter Bregman offers advice to those of us who have too much to do.  He points out that paying attention to every single thing we come across takes time away from focusing on the things in our lives that truly matter.  Many of his tips - such as  not responding to things immediately - seem to be common sense, but how many of us truly apply this when we’re caught up in our daily activity?

To focus on the “right” things, Bregman encourages us to slow down.  By delaying reactions to demands, we can make sure we’re reacting the right way and taking on tasks that align with our goals.  Think through things carefully and react to the desired outcome instead of the event.  What’s the ultimate result you want?  
Later in the book, he explains his title, “18 Minutes”.  We need a discipline to stay focused on our day.  His 18 minutes refers to five minutes planning at the beginning and end of the day, and one minute per hour (assuming an eight-hour work day) to stop and ask if you’re on track. Reflect on the day.  Did you do what you expected?  What needs to change?  If you’re not monitoring your progress and checking in with yourself regularly, it’s hard to stay focused.

Many time management books focus on how to get things done in less time.  I agree with Bregman that maybe what we really need is to do less.  As we find our focus, our days can be more manageable.   And I definitely agree that working 24/7 keeps us from living a balanced life since we’re obviously not leaving space for the other parts of our lives. Whatever your goals, don't forget to enjoy the ride.  At the end, no one wishes they worked more.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Hachette Book Group.

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