What’s it about?

18 Minutes (2011) is a practical guide to getting things done by concentrating on significant work, reaching goals, and limiting distractions. This summary will reveal how to identify the kind of work that is right for you and how to stay on track and hit your targets.

About the author:

Peter Bregman is an adviser and consultant to CEOs from big companies to small start-ups. His expertise is centered on leadership and improving today’s work life. His writing has also appeared in Forbes and Psychology Today.

Introduction: learn to focus and get things done in 18 minutes:

Is it hard for you to concentrate? You’re now the only one. With all social media platforms continually buzzing to grasp our attention, getting things done is more challenging than ever.

So, how do you avoid these distractions and center your focus? First, you have to make amends for the fact that you can’t do everything. After that, make sure the goals you are after are yours. Lastly, it’s time to get up and get going. There are some tricks and tips that make all that easier for you. And it doesn’t take a lot of time either, just 18-minutes.

Begin by pausing and concentrating on the best course of action:

Often, waking up and looking at your to-do list overwhelms you. Finding enough time to do everything you need to do can be a struggle sometimes. However, with the right plan and focus, you can embody your most productive self.

First, attain your focus by pausing for a while, reflecting on the things that need to be done, the unboxing the best and most profitable course of action.

This moment of closure will allow you to make fewer mistakes.

Adopt Gmail’s “undo send” function, for instance. This function provides you with five seconds to decide whether you will regret the email you just sent. And the truth is, five seconds is more than enough for you to realize if you made a mistake or to keep going.

Sure, it would’ve been more productive if you haven’t written that email initially, but our initial instinct is usually emotional. And the part of the brain that controls our impulses requires those extra few seconds to put things into perspective. So, if you slow down and not be rational in the first place, you wouldn’t go through all of this fuss and waste your time.

This pause can coach your mind for long-term successes. It allows you to think differently and gain more perspectives for new possibilities in life.

Without it, you’d be regulated on constant autopilot, acting out based on references and patterns of how things are seemingly supposed to be. This leads you to fall into too many mistakes and miss too many opportunities. When you slow down, you give your brain a chance to calm down, recharge, and see things more accurately to provide you with the best possible productivity possibilities.

Figure out what’s right for you by grasping your strengths and embracing your weaknesses

Are you so ambitious that you don’t know where to start? The best thing you can do in that case is to organize your life and to concentrate on the things that matter the most. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in this day, week, year, or lifetime.

To accomplish these goals, you’ll require directions, and the secret to getting on the right way is to limit yourself and your choices and to take full advantage of your strengths. It is so much easier to take any action if you have lesser options to choose from. An easy way to do that is to center your attention on the things you’re good at the most and your best strengths. This way, you will gain strategy about the things you dedicate your energy to.

Use this formula to maintain focus on nearly five things that will make a difference for you. Those things can be improving your social life or your parental skills or maybe launching a new business project. Devoting 95 percent of your time to these goals will direct your time and energy in the best way possible.

Focusing on your strengths shouldn’t make you ignore your weaknesses. You should embrace them as well! If you are trying to find what you should work on for the next week, month, year, or so, consider both your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll find yourself on the right track to getting the right things done.

Advocate your differences and go after your passions while steering clear of the pitfall:

Do you ever consider that what makes you unique from everybody else as a disadvantage? Good, don’t! It is a huge advantage to be different.

These days, the marketplace is so crowded, and the number of choices you have to pick from is endless. From restaurants, bars, and hotels to gadgets, appliances, and furniture, each one of those has something unique to offer that makes it stand out.

If you are perplexed by what project you want to start on, pick the one with the most remarkable features that simultaneously complement your abilities. Mostly, this specialty is what leads us to pursue our passion. It is so much easier and enjoyable to spend our time on our passions. It might require a lot of time to learn and master a new skill or something, so it is best to spend this time on something worth it.

However, to be successful, you should too avoid pitfalls. One common one is the tendency to give up after one fall or wrong decision. Don’t let yourself do that! Pick yourself up instead and look at your failure as a chance to improve.

Another common one is being paralyzed by the uncertainty of the future. The reality is, no one knows what’s going to happen in the future – even winning in the lottery might continue to be a future disaster! It’s much more effective to focus on the now and create your opportunities as you go.

“Your year will be best spent doing work that you enjoy so much, it feels effortless. You’ll always work tirelessly at your passions – hard work will feel easier.” 

-Peter Bergman

Plan your day according to the wisdom of the 18-minutes plan:

To continue your work as planned, you need to be wise about your time. That’s where a system that keeps you on track comes in. To fortune, there is an easy 18-minute ritual you can use every day.

First thing first, put five minutes aside in the morning to get through your daily plan and the things you would like to do. Create an “ignore list” of the things you should avoid. This will allow you to navigate your day while staying on target. Scheduling is another great habit that helps you get things done – this doesn’t mean saying, “I’ll get this done tomorrow.” 

Without a doubt, so often than not, something will not go according to the plan. The key is not to postpone anything for more than three days, or you’ll risk ruining your whole schedule. Try to find time sooner rather than later, and if you were not able, it would probably be best if you let it go.

Step two would be to give yourself one minute break every working hour of the day. When you put too much pressure on yourself, you’ll easily get overwhelmed and lose focus. Stay on track by taking a short pause to reflect on your progress and recharge for a change.

The last step is to take a review for five minutes at the end of the day. Take this time to think through what you did and didn’t do in this day. Learn from your mistakes and aspire to do better.

To be distraction-free, perfect your initiatives, boundaries, and yourself:

You might have your plan and daily ritual in place, but you might be wondering, “what about the distractions?”

Overcoming the temptations of distraction will never be easy. Usually, the most challenging part about achieving a task is getting started. You may find that shifting your environment every once in a while is helpful. It is hard to keep staring at the same wall every day without losing focus. Try rearranging the chairs or flipping your desk.

Making your tasks fun is essential to stay motivated. For example, say you have a big intimidating project ahead of you. Make a game out of it. Divide the project into different levels and set special rewards for completing each one.

To prevent distractions, setting clear boundaries is also essential. If you are working from an at-home office, make it clear to everyone at home to respect your privacy. Keep the knock-first or do-not-disturb policy enforced, or it will lose its regard. Now that you’ve known the 18-minute plan, it’s time to start. Final tip: start small; everything naturally gets bigger.