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18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done Hardcover – September 28, 2011
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18 MINUTES is an intensely smart, insanely readable, and eminently practical guide to boosting our effectiveness and deepening our satisfaction. I've already benefited from the ideas in is book in my own work. So will you.
-- Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind (
Pick this book up and read it. Bregman's wisdom, humility, and ability to tell a great story run through every page of this gem. 18 Minutes is the best blend of a business book and a self-help book I have ever read.
--Robert Sutton, Stanford University Professor and bestselling author of Good Boss, Bad Boss (
Feeling in control of your time is a key element of happiness. In the thoughtful, practical, and often funny 18 MINUTES, Peter Bregman explains how to make sure we have plenty of time to do the things that matter most to us -- so that our lives reflect our true values and priorities.
--Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project (
Bregman has taken the advice from his popular Harvard Business Review columns and turned it into a book for people who feel that they don't have enough hours in the day to do what they need to do. He offers straightforward advice: focus your priorities at the annual, daily, and moment-to-moment level; determine your goals; eliminate distractions that don't let you achieve those goals; and be firm regarding your boundaries. While the reader has no doubt heard this advice from other self-help books, Bregman's anecdotes are helpful and funny, his advice is sound, and his points are easy to grasp. Hopefully readers will find what he has to say useful and not just a retread of things they already know--multitasking is a myth, take time to refocus throughout the day, motivate your employees with fun--from other sources.
--Publishers Weekly (
About the Author
Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners, a global management consultancy where he is the advisor to CEOs as well as to their top management teams on leadership and workplace issues. He is based in New York City.
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Top customer reviews
The best part of the book seemed to be the subtitles of the parts of the book:
1. Pause (to slow down and think)
2. What's this year about?
3. What's this day about?
4. What's this moment about?
I like to the subtitles because they followed a clear, time-oriented structure that proceeded from the big picture (a year) down to the micro picture (the current moment).
But I can't really say nice things about the rest of the book. The whole book had the flavor of one of the usual books that is written by consultant who probably likes spending time with his ideas a little too much. There's a big pile of little ideas - often vague, banal, or trite - that are not organized into any cohesive structure or model, with each one of the little ideas given its own chapter and accompanied by several cutesy stories or anecdotes.
It seemed to me that the endless list of cutesy stories and anecdotes really dragged on after a while, making reading tedious and difficult, and that they caused enough communication clutter to interfere with the many little messages of the book (whatever they were, I've forgotten them already).
It always puzzles me how (and why) professional communicators produce books like this. I always expect well-organized, clean-cut communication messages from professionals, messages that should just leap off the page (like the four subtitles above). So I'm always disheartened to have to wade through dozens and dozens of little vague messages and cutesy stories that don't collectively build up into anything larger or more significant.
Here are just two examples (of many possible examples) of what I mean:
"Stay alert and adapt to changing situations. Keep your eye on the ball, whichever ball that maybe."
"If you're playing basketball and suddenly you find yourself on a football field, using more forced to bounce the basketball in the grass doesn't make sense. You need to drop the basketball, pickup of football, and run with it." Huh?
Probably the very best part of the book was the authors method of categorizing all to-do list items to fit under the titles of the key areas that you want to focus on for the year. He shows a tabular form where each cell has the title of the key area. When you try to place your to-do items into the key area cells, it becomes immediately obvious which to-do items do not fit with your yearly plan. At that time, you can decide to toss them to preserve your focus for the year, or put them into the Other (catch-all) category on the form.
No doubt the author makes a few good points here and there, but they seem to be buried in a wash of extra text. I think the book could be easily compressed into something one quarter of its current size, without losing anything in the way of messaging.
I'm sorry to say I would not recommend this book to anyone. I don't understand all the 4 and 5 star reviews, but clearly lots of other people found the book useful.
I think a much better book on the topics of getting focused and becoming more productive is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Really dumb and irrelevant title, I know. But a good book with high density of good material, nonetheless.)
However. There are some great takeaways from this book. It's worth the read just to get the system down. It works immediately.
Step 1. Work from a world of having 3-7 goals (max) each year.
Step 2. Spend 95% a day on your goals, and 5% a day on that crap you have to do, like emails and calls.
Step 3. Follow the daily regimen to check in with yourself each hour, at end of day ETC.
Overall the value of the book comes to help RECENTER you. That's the gift you receive from reading it. If you're a fan of this topic, the 2 other books that I found were super valuable was 12 weeks, and Manage Your Day To Day. SUPER VALUABLE!
Another reason I put it in the "bathroom book" category is that there are not a lot of interactive exercises or challenges. It's just "Hey, think about this concept."
I've rated it three stars because, while it's not an awful book and the writing is quite good, the concepts tend to be platitudes on the level of "follow your passion", and there's not much actionable in it. Plus, I knew almost all the jokes used to start chapters, and I'd heard similar stories too. Combined with the platitudinal nature of the concepts, I just didn't feel like I learned much. If you have not read other self-improvement books, you might not have that problem. This one wouldn't be horrible as your first one, but you would want to get others for some depth to really get benefit, I think.
If you want something more substantial, I'd suggest either Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life if you want something general about ramping up your success, or The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism if you are more interested in the public sides of your career.
That said, the system in this book was unlike others I have read about but made sense and seemed easy enough to implement. I read this book a year ago and I still use parts of the system today (on good days).
The one real problem with this book is that it seems to assume that the reader owns her own business or is heavily invested in her job. For example, the book advises the reader to pick 5 main areas in life (about 3 professional and 2 personal) and divide their time roughly equally between them. However, I have a day job that demands 80% of my waking hours but doesn't contribute to my life goals, so the system doesn't totally work for me. But, you know, it's easy enough to modify and it's an interesting read.
Also loved his anecdotes. Peter Bregman seems to have the most interesting life in the world and someday I will have it too.