Summary of 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of 18 Minutes by Peter Bregman

Distractions are all around us. Be it people, messages, emails or social media, it can be hard to concentrate when we really need to. So, how can you get through your day productively? Do you have to ignore everything else and focus on one thing? Or is it just not possible to not get distracted? 

One thing is for certain though, you can’t do everything. Therefore, you have to ensure that you have realistic goals. Once this is done there are techniques that you can follow to ensure that you achieve these goals. The best part? It takes just 18 minutes.

In this book summary readers will discover:

  • Press pause to decide on the best way to go
  • Knowing your strengths
  • Being different is not a bad thing
  • The 18-minute ritual
  • How to prevent distractions

Key lesson one: Press pause to decide on the best way to go

At the start of a new day, it’s often easy to get caught up in the tasks for the day without really having a plan. In our attempt to get everything done we just get to it. However, a better approach is to actually pause for a moment and deciding the best steps to take to get through what needs to be done. This simple action will also prevent any mistakes from happening.

Often we react emotionally when things come up and to prevent that initial impulse, which could actually be wrong, we need to pause. Therefore, slowing down could help you re-evaluate the situation and act appropriately. This saves time in the long run because we tend to need to go back and do stuff all over again when we act emotionally. Think about all those times you responded to an email angrily and then had to go back and send a more constructive one? If you just took a few seconds to pause and reflect, you would have saved yourself time. 

Even more beneficial, pausing also helps you to think and see things in different ways. If you are constantly working, you will undoubtedly miss things and make mistakes. When you take a minute to pause, you can actually recognize possibilities that you might have missed. This is because to take the time to re-centre, calm down and look at your work with fresh eyes.

Key lesson two: Knowing your strengths

Part of finding the best options to begin working with is to focus on the things that matter most to you and in particular, those that play to your strengths. Why? Well, if you work this way, you focus on your strengths and the few tasks it pertains to, you can get through them quicker. You will also have fewer tasks to choose from which makes it seem easier to act upon. If you use this technique to focus on your top five goals right now, you will be focusing your time and energy in the best way. 

However, using your strengths to your advantage does not mean that you should ignore your weaknesses. If you know what they are, you can also work strategically to allow them to help you. For example, if one of your weaknesses is not being able to identify grey areas in situations, you can then apply yourself to tasks that require yes or no responses. In this way, your weakness will help by not being distracted by any grey areas. 

Therefore, both your strengths and weaknesses can contribute to your work. You can further narrow down what you can do and also give yourself direction. This helps you to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Key lesson three: Being different is not a bad thing

Have you ever been envious of someone else’s abilities? Most people experience this but fail to realise if everyone was the same, life would be pretty boring. Besides that, being different gives you a competitive edge. When you consider how many options are available on the market, the ones that are the most appealing are the ones that offer something unique. 

Thus, if you are considering the type of project you should get into, focus on the ones that stand out because of their uniqueness. Even better, find the ones that speak to your passions. This will not only mean that the project will be more enjoyable but also that you have some skills that pertain to it. We have all heard that it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert at something. Time will go a whole lot quicker if it is something you are passionate about and that drives you. 

An important point to remember here is not to be disheartened by failure or worry unnecessarily about the future. Failure is simply an opportunity for learning and growth. If you remember that, you will set yourself up for success. And as for the future, no one can quite predict how things will turn out. It is best that you remain focused on what you are doing at present and create your opportunities for the future.

Key lesson four: The 18-minute ritual

The 18-minute ritual will help you spend your time optimally. The first thing that you need to do is schedule five minutes in the morning to develop your plan for the day. What you should also do during this time along with your to-do list, is a list of things that you should avoid. This will further help you to stay on track during the course of your day. By scheduling your day in this manner, you give yourself a timeline to stick to making it more likely for you to achieve your goals. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go according to plan. Rescheduling is normal, but try not to let things slide for more than three days.

The next thing you need to do is to allow yourself a minute to pause every hour during the day. As explained in the first key lesson, pausing will help you refocus and stay on track. If you use this one minute to reflect on what you have accomplished thus far and what still needs to be done, you will remain focused throughout the day. 

Lastly, you need to take five minutes at the end of every day to review. You need to consider what was done and what you still have to do. It is also the time to reflect on what strategies worked and what did not. In this way, you learn from any mistakes made and put yourself in a better position for the next day. 

These 18 minutes in an 8-hour workday will set you up for success. It will give your clarity and allow you to work in a way that is efficient and focused.

Key lesson five: How to prevent distractions

While the 18-minute ritual gives you a plan for your day, you also have to minimize distractions whilst you are working. Distractions come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes, we even distract ourselves with our wandering minds. But the hardest part of any task is getting started. So, once you get that done, you’ve crossed your biggest hurdle.

An easy fix to avoid distractions is to change your work environment. This will help you retain focus. You can make simple changes to your current work environment like changing your chair position so you don’t stare out the window or so that it avoids the chatty person in the next cubicle. If you work in a closed office, you can set boundaries letting people you are not to be disturbed during certain hours or that they cannot walk in without an appointment. You can also aim to stay motivated by rewarding yourself for accomplishing tasks. You can set up fun ways to do this like trying to make it a game with different levels. Each level or batch of work completed can result in a reward. 

Lastly, distractions in the form of social media, snacking unnecessarily or emails can be avoided. You can opt to schedule time to do these things so that it does not take away from your work, or you can choose to avoid them altogether. You can mute social media notifications or put your phone away if it is too much of a temptation to have on your desk. 

Managing your distractions in this manner will get easier over time. It will be a struggle at first, but if you implement these methods together with the 18-minute ritual, you are well on your way to achieving your daily goals. 

The key takeaway from 18 Minutes:

In order to work efficiently, you have to come up with a strategy that fits you. This entails taking 18 minutes of your day to plan, reflect and review your tasks as well as your performance. Everyone has a unique skillset and this should be used to our advantage. Set your goals and determine how to best use your strengths and weaknesses. This will set you on your path to success.

How can I implement the lessons learned in 18 Minutes:

Apart from following the 18-minute ritual, always remember to not get disheartened if things don’t go according to plan. There will be times when you won’t be able to follow your work schedule and will not be able to finish the tasks you wanted. But instead of beating yourself up about it, consider what went wrong. Try and find your mistakes and learn from them. You are only human after all and things will not always be perfect. It will even take time for you to get used to this new routine. Just think of everything as an opportunity to learn and keep growing.

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