18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

Do you feel as though there could ever be enough time in the day? I’ve seldom met an executive who doesn’t cite time management as a critical concern. Over the course of my career, there are several leaders who have stood out in this area. They seem to enjoy balance and productivity. They share a common trait: a hunger to discuss time management with others and glean what’s working and what isn’t.

Time Management is Universally Challenging
This is an area that I’ve wrestled with over the years, so when I come across a resource that cuts through the clutter, I’m excited to share it with others. This is definitely the case with 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman. The book was inspired by a blog post Bregman wrote for the Harvard Business Review that skyrocketed in popularity. The short, readable chapters are effective and digestable – the perfect format to deliver jewels about time management. His article began with a humbling admission that I think most of us can relate to:

Yesterday started with the best of intentions. I walked into my office in the morning with a vague sense of what I wanted to accomplish. Then I sat down, turned on my computer, and checked email. Two hours later, after fighting several fires, solving other people’s problems, and dealing with whatever happened to be thrown at me through my computer and phone, I could hardly remember what I had set out to accomplish when I first turned on my computer. I’d been ambushed. And I know better.”

Mind the Gap
One consistent theme was this simple truth: It’s possible to use your time productively yet feel your time was not well spent. Why? To understand requires honest examination of the bigger picture – the strengths, weaknesses, uniqueness and passions that form your personal foundation of success and happiness. Ultimately they are compass by which we gauge how our time is spent. If your activities are out of alignment in these critical areas, all the time management principles in the world won’t help you. You’ll continue to feel a sense of deep dissatisfaction until you bring your activity into alignment with your calling.

A Process for Prioritizing
Through short chapters and personal stories, the book unpacks 3 simple steps that take 18 minutes over the course of a nine-hour workday. When used consistently, these steps are the foundation for change: 1) Make a plan 2) Refocus hourly 3) Review how your time was spent. In my experience, this simple approach is common sense yet magical in its ability to cut through daily clutter and distraction and move forward in the areas that are most important.

A Practical Toolset
This book will also equip you with simple yet powerful tactics to tackle things like managing your “To-Do List” (hint: it’s not how you might expect). When it comes to distractions, Bregman takes an interesting approach, recommending distinguishing between unproductive distractions vs. productive distractions that can help us stay focused.


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