A Book Review of “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman

By: Deborah Mandel

In our office, each employee creates a Professional Development Bookplan for the year. This helps us select a focus for continuingeducation and make sure we are using our time and funds appropriately to move our careers in a positive direction. In our plan, we are asked to read a book and share what we’ve learned. For my report I chose “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done”, written by Peter Bregman.

Here are 5 ideas that I found worth noting:

Right at the beginning, the author comes out and says “it’s impossible to get it all done”. As simple as that sounds, that statement made a big impact on me. I’m someone who is constantly looking at what I still have left to do, instead of pausing to appreciate what I have accomplished. You’re never going to finish everything and you shouldn’t harp on it and feel guilty for that.

  1. In the very first chapter, he mentions a “start over” approach. When you are questioning a project, or habit, or anything that you are in the middle of, ask yourself what you would do if you were starting over right then. The example that the author gave was a project that was struggling and they continued to put money and time into it. He asked himself if he was a new project manager coming into the project, would he continue it and invest additional resources or would he scrap it and move on.
  2. I liked his event-reaction-outcome concept in Chapter 7. He said that normally there is an event, a reaction, and then an outcome. But instead, we should have it be event-outcome-reaction. When something occurs, pause and think about the outcome that you want, and frame your reaction to that. This was something that I could practically apply. If your boss is explaining something you did wrong, your initial reaction may be to make an excuse or blame someone else. This is going to make them think you are argumentative and cannot take criticism well. Instead, take a pause and think about the outcome that you want. Do you want them to think you are a professional? Then react accordingly.
  3. My favorite chapter was Chapter 24, “When Tomorrow?” It’s Event Outcome Reaction2about the power of when and where. That when you specify when and where you are going to do something, it gets done far more often than when it’s on a never-ending to-do list. To do this, take things from your to-do list and put them on a calendar. This will force you to prioritize your to-dos based on realistic time constraints – what can be accomplished today.
  4. The title, 18 Minutes, signifies setting aside time during your day to plan and review. Five minutes in the morning and five at the end of the day. Plus one minute each hour to check in with yourself and make sure you are making proper use of your time.

Share your comments below if you read the book and had any other thoughts.


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