I’m currently flying through books due to the Christmas break, and I think I’m on a hot streak of great ones. I heard about 18 Minutes and Peter Bregman on a Podcast I like to listen to which you can check out here. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m obsessed with time management, so I was eager to read this book. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was in the midst of putting together my new years goals and this book helped me think it out more clearly. I’d say out of all the time management books I’ve read and spoken about on this blog, this one packs the most punch page for page. It’s an easy read too, I was done with it in 2 days.
This book is broken into 4 parts, the first part takes you to a birds eye view of your life, in which you decide which parts of your life are the most important. The second part has you set your goals for the year. The third part shows you how to break those goals down into daily tasks.Then the fourth part takes you to the exact moment in which you make decisions, and how to manage distraction and interruptions. The section on distractions and interruptions is particularly useful, since we all deal with that on a daily basis and don’t know how to get out of it without appearing rude. The guidance that Bregman offers through these steps is not only theoretical but also practical, showing calendar excerpts from his own life while keeping things interesting with stories and anecdotes. The title – 18 Minutes – is the amount of time he suggests you take a day planning and then evaluating the results of your day. He breaks it down the the minute in the 3rd part of the book.
I used this book to plan out my whole year and improve on some things I could use improving on. Here are some of the things this book has inspired me to change:
- No checking email until 10:00 AM. In his conclusion, he urges the reader to try only one thing at first, so that you don’t become overwhelmed and then drop any hopes of changing anything, so with this in mind my one major change will be to not check my email until 10 am. Normally, I check my email during breakfast at home, at that time I usually just delete or file whatever isn’t important. Then at 8 I get to my office and go through the rest of them. After that I then move on to whatever’s on my schedule that day. The problem with this setup is that you do all your best thinking in the morning, so I’m using that valuable time to instantly stress myself out and go through emails. So I’m going to do my weekly scheduling, and brainstorming from 8-10 everyday as well as my most challenging work in an attempt to be more productive.
- Block myself from time wasting activities. He emphasizes that we should not only have a to do list, but also a “don’t do” list. I had never thought of this so I started thinking of things that are a waste of my time. For starters I downloaded http://getcoldturkey.com/ and blocked all social media sites and blogs that I mainly frequent for entertainment purposes and not learning purposes. I removed my Facebook App, Onion App, and news apps from my phone, so that I would spend less time glued to my phone and more aware of my life around me. The other major thing I’ve done is that my wife and I have gotten rid of our TV. We’ve been weaning ourselves off of it for 2 years now and so this was the final step. We still can watch movies on a computer, but without a large TV in front of you you’re much more likely to pick up a book or just have a good conversation instead. This has meant I’ve basically given up football, but the Cowboys haven’t been that good in the last few years anyway.
- 2 seconds of self control is all you need. Another part of his book that really struck me was his discussion on self control. The reality is that we only need to have self control in most instances for 2 seconds. Going on a morning run is only hard at the moment you decide to get out there in the cold and not get back in your comfy bed. Once you’re out there running you feel great. I procrastinate from writing for this blog all the time, but once I start the process it’s a great experience for me. It only takes the effort to sit down and start and then the rest takes care of itself. Realizing this helps us to manipulate our actions more easily and it even got me to the gym over the Christmas holiday when I’d normally be filling up on cookies and wine.
These are just the major things that jumped out at me but this book is full of great insights and ideas on how to improve your productivity. I highly recommend it to anyone trying to get more done.