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181 of 193 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Having just finished reading Peter Bregman's new book, "18 Minutes," I am simultaneously invigorated and exhausted.

(Actually, "read" is not the right word - "devoured" is more like it.)

I am INVIGORATED in that this combination business book and self-help book has inspired me to start looking at, thinking about, and doing some things differently...starting with the simple reminder that we need to regularly stop -- to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate, and refocus - for just 18 minutes a day (5 minutes at the beginning; eight 1-minute check-ins during the day; and 5 minutes at the end).

Leveraging his engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking talent for storytelling (as exhibited regularly in his HBR blog posts), Bregman provides readers with a variety of tools, tips, and techniques intended to help us enhance our productivity and maximize our potential.

And why am I "EXHAUSTED"? Because, in addition to my head spinning from the numerous impactful and memorable stories that I want to remember, the refreshing new insights I gained, and a short list of simple-but-meaningful actions I now plan to take, I started reading the book around midnight last night and couldn't put it down until I finished the entire thing, in one sitting, at four a.m. this morning (luckily it's a Saturday).

Seriously, reading this book is like having a personal and professional life coach standing right beside you -- providing success tips, keeping you focused, and cheering you on along the way.

UPDATE: I just re-read this book in greater detail (as mentioned above, the first time I read it I whipped through it in four hours because I couldn't put it down due to the great storytelling). But this time I focused not just on the INSIGHTS I gained, but on the ACTIONS I want, and need, and plan to take -- both personally and professionally, including the creation of my own personalized/customized version of the Bregman "Six Box Planning Tool" (page 118). If you take nothing else from this book (and I doubt that would happen), this tool alone will help you organize your to-do list, focus, and get things (the right things!) done. But like any tool, it's all about the using. Good intentions and proper planning will get you started; dedication, execution, follow-through, resilience, and a commitment to excellence is what gets results. I just upgraded my rating from 4-stars to 5-stars for this terrific book.
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book and most discussions I've seen are about chapters 22 - 28. These 24 pages (in the electronic edition I read) have some great tips on time and goal management and the relationship between these. The 21 chapters before and the 18 chapters afterwards are fairly standard business/self-help pep talks. The "Where we are" and "Where we've landed" sections try to make the padding relevant to the book's core, but they seem a bit retrofitted to justify those other parts.

Here's a time management tip: The content of chapters 1 - 21 and 29 - 46 could each be summed up on a post-it note, and if you go to the end of each of those chapters, you'll see a box around the post-it note version, so just read that.

(Also, unless he's trying to create some cute coinage, "overwhelm" is not a noun. It's always a verb.)
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86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Drawing 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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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Peter Bregman's new book. I'm a bit skeptical of the self-help genre in general, but what makes this book different from other time management books is the author's grasp of the big picture. Other books on getting organized are only useful if you're absolutely confident in what you want to accomplish. At the other extreme, find-the-meaning-of-life gurus generally don't have much to say on managing your inbox. The book follows a "zoom in" logic from the largest questions of life--Who am I? What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?--to the most minute details. The titles of the four parts are: I. Pause, II. What Is This Year About? III. What Is This Day About? IV. What Is This Moment About? The idea is that by always keeping in mind what is important and what is not, you can avoid falling into the trap of mechanically checking off to-do lists without regard for the content. The stories that Bregman tells to make his points are beautifully written, genuine, and thoughtful. You will not find any gimmicky acronyms or corporate buzzword babble. My only criticism is that at times there seems to be a lack of recognition of how difficult it can be to implement change in one's life. Then again, it would be a bigger problem if the author of this kind of book wasn't optimistic. All in all, reading has been a thought-provoking experience that is helping me focus on my priorities and plan my days accordingly.
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71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Don't judge a book by it's cover or its reviews - "18 minutes" might suggest that this book is about some well tested methodology for getting focused and getting work done, but it's really just a collection of loosely related inspirational fluff. Also, reading this book after accepting its rapturous reviews marks the last time I trust customer reviews without a few good editorial reviews. Something here stinks.

As for this horrid book: Bregman piles on quirky, tangentially related anecdotes that remind me of a boring high school graduation speech circa 2008. You'll hear the inspiring story of Susan Boyle and the pilot who landed the plane near Manhattan. If you're wondering why he wrote the book, he loosely sprinkles in stories of his own meandering career in a way that doesn't add much of anything.

The advice is generalized and loosely organized enough to be useless. You owe it to yourself to at least read the table of contents before you read a paragraph. Some sample chapter titles - "Leverage your strengths", "Embrace your weaknesses", "Pursue your passion (Desire)". Sound riveting? Then don't let me stop you.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I know the feeling: too much to do, not enough time. I'm swamped with emails and voicemails, and don't know where to begin. I've read the books and attended the workshops. I've been a Covey guy and a GTD guy, but I'm still having a hard time getting it all done.

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman is written for guys like me. The theory: 18 minutes a day is enough to find our focus, master distraction, and get the right things done. How does it work? Bregman's written an article to explain his idea:

-take five minutes in the morning to plan the day
-take one minute every hour to refocus
-take five minutes at the end of the day to review

These are fairly simple ideas. In 18 Minutes, Bregman takes them even further. He gives us "a comprehensive approach to managing a year, a day, and a moment so that our lives move forward in a way that keeps us focused on, and doing, the things we decide are important."

Part 1 of the book provides a foundation for his ideas. Part 2 asks, "What is this year about?" Bregman challenges us to create our annual focus, "five areas where you want to spend the majority of your time over the next year." Part 3 asks, "What is this day about?" Part 4 is about how to apply all of this in the moment, dealing with initiative, boundaries, and self-management.

I wondered if there was enough in Bregman's 18-minute idea to fill a book. It turns out there is. I've read the book once, and I'm working through it again so I really get it. And yes, I'm actually starting to use his 18-minute plan.

I found this book really helpful, and I recommend it to anyone who's feeling like they could move closer to living with greater intentionality.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 4, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book sat in my Kindle queue for 8 weeks before I picked it up a few days before New Year's Day. Why the foot dragging? I was fully anticipating a tired, re-tread, re-run of the often quoted "me-too" time management disciplines - - get-your-focus-on-the-main-thing-being-the-main-thing, turn off your email and blackberry, stop multitasking, blah, blah, blah. Even the title (18 minutes to solve global warming) had turned me off. But, just like I had to eat all of the vegetables on my plate when I was a kid - - I bought the book, so I had to read it. And the verdict? I was wrong. This book is so much better than that. (Yes, it helps to have low expectations, but I stand my ground. This book is SOLID.) Bregman gets your attention from the first chapter and you ride with him all the way through to the finish. Do you find yourself asking one or more of the following questions?

* Where did the day go? Where did the week go? Where did the year(s) go?

* Why didn't I have the time to get done what I wanted to get done?

* Why does "stuff" always get in the way of what I need to get done precluding me from finishing what's important to me?

* Why am I on a treadmill scrambling to try to keep up or finish...anxious, or frustrated or unfulfilled?

* Why am I seemingly working harder and longer but either staying in place or falling behind?

if you are asking these questions, give this book a shot. For $12 on Kindle, you'll get your monies worth and then some.

Part 1 ("Pause") helps you focus on the right things and put them into a daily plan. Part 2 ("What is the Year About?") helps you "organize your life around the things that matter to you, make you happy, use your gifts, and move toward your goals." Part 3 ("What is This Day About?") you'll "learn how to translate your annual focus into an 18 minute daily plan, ensuring that the right things get done. And Part 4 ("What is this moment about?") is where you'll "learn how to master distraction, how to get yourself motivated and how to follow-through."

We've all heard the quote: "If you don't have a destination (or target), any path will take you there." Many of us have also read or heard from self-help gurus who preach that we need a daily plan, an annual plan or a 3-5 year plan. Yet, who really prepares a plan longer than the day in front of us. We are wired to believe that we can achieve anything we put our mind to - that with willpower, determination and just trying harder, we'll get there. Problem is, we try and try and try. Willpower alone will not get us there. We need a more disciplined and systematic approach. Again, I think this book and Bregman's recommendations do it in a practical, straightforward way.

This is 288 page book with 46 quick and snappy chapters. It applicable not just to business people - but to a much broader audience. It's a page turner if you can believe that for a goal setting/ time management book. Peter uses a solid structure to lay out most of his chapters - he tells a short story (and he's very good at it) - he supports it with some form of research or background and then he gives you his recommendation. The book is written in a conversational voice. He's humble and authentic. He's practical, thoughtful and grounded in today's realities (as opposed to the ivory tower or theoretical kind). His recommendations are doable. Finally, the book is readable, punchy and engaging

My favorite excerpts:

"So often we scramble to get a lot accomplished in a day, and succeed - only to realize in retrospect, that those things we accomplished won't get us where we want to go. It's not a lack of effort. It's a lack of direction and focus."

"The secret to surviving a buffet is to eat fewer things. And the secret to thriving in your life is the same: Do fewer things.
I looked at all sorts of time management systems but they were either too complicated, too time consuming to implement, or too focused on getting everything done (impossible). But that was already my problem: I was trying to get everything done and, in the end, the only things I got done were the things that screamed the loudest."

"That's what happens when we've got too many things to do. We look busy. We seem to be moving. But in reality, we get very little done."

"So we try to speed up to match the pace of the action around us. We stay up until 3am trying to answer all our emails. We tweet, we Facebook, we link in. We scan news websites to stay up-to-date...And we salivate each time we hear the beep or vibration of a new text message. But that's a mistake. The speed with which information hurtles towards us is unavoidable. And it's getting worse. So trying to catch it all is counterproductive."
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A generic self-help book, obviously produced to promote the author's consulting business, which is frequently mentioned.

Was any of it "bad," or "wrong"? No, not that I noticed.

Was any of it insightful or original? Not at all. And it's not especially well written, either. Despite the initial appearance of promise, it ended up being pretty much a complete waste of time.

We are all busy; we all want to be more productive. There are many much, much better choices to help you get there. Three I can recommend are Rework,59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, and The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
...that's all I wanted in a methodology that would help me get important things done, and help with a diminishing work/life balance. The corporately enforced Lotus Notes wasn't working for me, and the juggling between company PC, personal Mac, Blackberry, and yellow sticky notes was leading to disappointing results and a feeling of falling behind. If you have embraced time management practices such as Franklin Covey's system, this is a great logical next step that helps with execution, not just prioritization. I read this book on my Kindle during a couple of flights and ordered 6 hard copies for myself and my senior staff, with instructions to dog ear pages, write all over it, tear out important pages to put on their refrigerators, and ultimately make the simple steps in this book a part of their everyday world.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This isn't a bad book, but it does not get deep into the issues it raises. Each little chapter presents a wizened gem - "avoiding the rush to judgment" - with a more or less compelling anecdote. You most likely have heard all of these before. I think Ben Franklin wrote most of them. They may make you stop and think for a little while and may help you change your behaviors. Fine.

Some of it does seem a bit trite, or just too gushy/cheerful though - "And there's something I've been noticing about some people who have lost their jobs. They seem happier. Relieved, almost." Um, really?

He carts out his wife's two successive miscarriages to note "we realized it [having another child] wasn't up to us." Wow.

I'm done with this one.
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