18 Minutes Review

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An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day

Yesterday started with the best of intentions. I walked into my office in the morning with a vague sense of what I wanted to accomplish. Then I sat down, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Two hours later, after fighting several fires, solving other people’s problems, and dealing with whatever happened to be thrown at me through my computer and phone, I could hardly remember what I had set out to accomplish when I first turned on my computer. I’d been ambushed. And I know better.

When I teach time management, I always start with the same question: How many of you have too much time and not enough to do in it? In ten years, no one has ever raised a hand.

That means we start every day knowing we’re not going to get it all done. So how we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a to do list and an ignore list. The hardest attention to focus is our own.

But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?

We need a trick.

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru, knows all about tricks; he’s famous for handcuffing himself and then swimming a mile or more while towing large boats filled with people. But he’s more than just a showman. He invented several exercise machines including the ones with pulleys and weight selectors in health clubs throughout the world. And his show, The Jack LaLanne Show, was the longest running television fitness program, on the air for 34 years.

But none of that is what impresses me. He has one trick that I believe is his real secret power.

At the age of 94, he still spends the first two hours of his day exercising. Ninety minutes lifting weights and 30 minutes swimming or walking. Every morning. He needs to do so to achieve his goals: on his 95th birthday he plans to swim from the coast of California to Santa Catalina Island, a distance of 20 miles. Also, as he is fond of saying, “I cannot afford to die. It will ruin my image.”

So he works, consistently and deliberately, toward his goals. He does the same things day in and day out. He cares about his fitness and he’s built it into his schedule.

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Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. Not simply a list or a vague sense of our priorities. That’s not consistent or deliberate. It needs to be an ongoing process we follow no matter what to keep us focused on our priorities throughout the day.

I think we can do it in three steps that take less than 18 minutes over an eight-hour workday.

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day.
Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.

Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.

In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.

If you want to get something done, decide when and where you’re going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It’s simple.

This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that a higher priority?

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

Top positive review

This book at first look was another TimeMangement book. I didn’t want to read another time management book. The best way I can save time is not reading a book in the first place.

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!

Top critical review

If you want a self-help book for the bathroom, this might be your choice. The chapters are short, each one centered around a single concept. Usually there’s a story or a joke that’s supposed to illustrate the concept. Then concepts are grouped into major sections such as finding your focus for a year, or planning a single day.

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.

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If you want a self-help book for the bathroom, this might be your choice. The chapters are short, each one centered around a single concept. Usually there’s a story or a joke that’s supposed to illustrate the concept. Then concepts are grouped into major sections such as finding your focus for a year, or planning a single day.

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.

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This book at first look was another TimeMangement book. I didn’t want to read another time management book. The best way I can save time is not reading a book in the first place.

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!

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This is the second time management book I’ve read (the other was Leave the Office Earlier and was also good, although I don’t think I finished it #timemanagementfail). While it claims to do what other time management books do by starting earlier in the list-making process and continuing into the doing process, the truth is that other books do that as well.

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.

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In this concise volume, Peter Bregman lays out a tidy little system for making sure you get the most out of your day, your year and, by extension your freakin’ life. These are some of the things I like about the book:
–His advice comes from years of experience with his consulting clients, his family and himself. I have reason to believe that the principles he gives us are well-tested.
–His tips can be implemented immediately. You don’t have to overhaul your whole life, buy a bunch of folders, hire a coach, or change your name to Anandananda. You can get down to business and get results today.
–Every chapter starts with an anecdote to put that particular tip in context and make it more memorable. We tend to remember stories better than straight-up didactic teaching, so this is a great technique.
–He summarizes the highlights of what he’s covered after every section and again at the end of the book. This kind of repetition makes it much more likely that I’ll retain the material (and, incidentally, all non-fiction authors would do well to use this technique).

Some of the tips I’ve started to implement already:
— Figure out the 5 top things this next year is going to be about, and do those things.
— Be more social in all my work-related activities. Make it about other people as much as possible.
— Instead of having my usual automatic reaction in response to an event, think “What end result do I want to get out of this situation?” and then take the action that aligns with that bigger outcome. This is a game-changer when it comes to business and personal relations.
— Assert what makes you different! Quirkiness is the thing that makes you more useful and marketable, so think of it as an asset instead of a liability. Same with your weaknesses.
— Have a reminder system (the “waiting list”) for all the people you expect to hear back from. Then follow up with them!
— The 18 min system itself. Read the books to get the components of that.
— “Don’t settle for imperfect. Shoot for it.” Genius!

On top of it all, Bregman’s got a lighthearted writing style that makes for a quick and easy read. If you feel ready to make some small changes that stand to give you huge, long-term payoffs, I recommend that you make the tips in “18 Minutes” a part of your daily routine.
–Dr Ali Binazir, Happiness Engineer and author of The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 157 weeks

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My name is Shane Ellison. I am a chemist, author, pilot, husband and father of 4. My FREE 18-Minute Workout is what my family uses to “get more for less.” I used it to win a jiu-jitsu world championship. My wife used it to win The Arnold Amateur, after having 2 kids. It works thanks to a phenomenon called hormesis.

Hormesis means to stimulate or set into motion. It’s an evolutionary adaptive response – a change that your body makes after being challenged. This is a survival mechanism hardwired into your genetics. The 18-Minute Workout triggers this biological phenomenon to produce positive adaptive changes.

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