Book Club: 18 Minutes — What Is This Moment About?

written by Roger Carr on June 28, 2014 in Book Club with no comments">no comments

It works! In the past, each time I heard about creating an ignore list along with a to‐do list, I never believed it would be worthwhile. But last week I said I would create and try out an ignore list as recommended in the book 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman. The next morning I had a strong temptation to do a time‐wasting activity on my ignore list. Just remembering it was on my list provided me the motivation I needed to NOT do it. I now give the ignore list a two thumbs up.

hourglass shows moment in time

Photo Credit: bogenfreund via Compfight cc

Using an ignore list is just one of many productivity tips that we have learned from Peter Bregman in the first three sections of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. If you missed any of the past discussions, check them out at:

This final week of the book review provides several more tips to make sure we follow through on what we know we need to do to make our biggest impact.

Part Four Summary

The hardest part to being productive is not in creating your plan that defines how to spend your time. It is in the follow through. Getting started. Staying focused on important tasks. Sticking to the plan.

Getting started is a big part of getting things done. Once started, the momentum of the working the task will help carry things through. What can be done to help get started on a task?

  • Change the environment to make getting started as easy as possible. It could be as simple as laying out our workout clothes the night before we exercise.
  • Commit to yourself to get started on the task for a short time, knowing that once you get started it will be easier to see the task through to the end.
  • Find ways to make the work fun. This is a great motivator.
  • Identify a fear to get you motivated and an inspirational story about yourself (even ones that are more fantasy than real) to keep going.

It is important to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Peter Bregman provides some questions to ask yourself before answering a request to do something. If you say no, it needs to be done in an appropriate manner so others take it seriously.

Transition time between tasks needs to be scheduled. It might be a small amount of time or could involve a significant amount of preparation and travel. Be sure it is scheduled or you will continually be running late. Show respect for yourself and others. Be on time by accounting for transition time.

Be sure to schedule down time for yourself. Either remain unplugged during vacations or set up specific times to do work so it doesn’t permeate your entire vacation time.

Focus is important when trying to get something done. Distraction is important when trying to avoid something. Know when each is important and set yourself up for success.

We can’t multitask, we switch‐task. And there is a period of unproductive time every time you switch between tasks. Don’t multitask and get the work done in a shorter time.

We need to be flexible. Change is inevitable and you need to be able to identify those changes and adapt when needed.

Do not strive for perfection. Perfection can be the downfall of productivity. In fact, there are benefits to be gained by exposing others to your work early in the process.

Don’t complicate your life by trying to accomplish too many things with an elaborate plan. Today, start focusing on the one thing that will provide the biggest payoff for you and start doing it. Start making progress. Make it a habit. Once you do this, then you can start including other things. What is your one thing?

Aha Moments

Things I need to work on, things I want to try, and new ideas come to me as I read great books. The following are some random thoughts that came to mind as I read this section of the book:
a lot.

  • I already knew if you have a hard time getting out of bed when the alarm clock goes off, move the alarm clock to a location that requires you to get up to turn it off. I hadn’t thought of changing the environment to make it easier to get tasks started. I can’t wait until it is time to start the task to think about how the environment needs to change. When I put tasks on the calendar, I also need to consider what changes to the environment need to be made, and schedule those changes in advance.
  • One of the reasons I burned out in the past was because I didn’t so “no” to enough things. There was no margin in my life. I need to include the questions Peter Bregman proposes when I consider potential efforts in the future.
  • I am chronically late for things. I attempt to leave enough space between tasks on my calendar but I don’t take the time to think through how much time the preparation and travel will take and schedule that on my calendar as well. This could be a huge productivity boost for me, reduce my stress of being late, and improve my credibility with others. This one tip made reading the book again worthwhile (and I got much more from the book than this one tip).