Time is money. Time management is a critical ingredient for my success. I try and maximise my time so that I can spend more of my time doing things that I’m passionate about, like analyzing real estate investments, going to Toronto Raptors games and writing. This week I will review the book, 18 Minutesby Peter Bregman.
The focus of this book is on eliminating distraction, finding focus, and making good choices about what to do with your time. His approach is a bit different in that he talks about making proactive distractions for yourself, so that when you’re distracted from the task at hand, you stumble right into something else that’s useful.
So many of us with busy lives are so caught up in the overabundance of things that we have on our to-do list that we never bother to stop for a moment and ask ourselves why we are doing these things. Often, we are filling our day with things that are, in the big scheme of things, pretty unimportant, and those unimportant things are crowding out the genuinely important ones.
Bregman’s advice is to simply “pause” for a bit and get things in perspective. A “pause,” in Bregman’s book, is a time where you simply look at the things you’re doing and order them in terms of how important they are to you in your overall life. Where do we want to be going in a general sense? What kind of person do we want to be?
Recognize that all of the choices we make have costs and they have benefits. A choice to work late might mean less sleep or less time building a deep relationship with our spouse.
What Is This Year About?
One big part in determining what is important is thinking about the things you want to achieve over the medium term and the long term. Where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Which of the things on your plate is most likely to help you get to that place?
So much of what we do on a daily basis has little impact on our lives from that perspective, and thus it’s worthwhile to actively lower the importance of such things. The things that are actually important are the things that have long term impact on our lives and we should strive to focus on those as much as possible.
What Is This Day About?
This, of course, brings us to today. Once we understand what big things we want from life, it’s easier to prioritise the things that need to be done today. In other words, if we have a long checklist of things to take care of, which of those actually has a significant positive impact toward our long term ideas?
One way to effectively do this is to simply surround yourself with things that all have a positive impact toward our long term goals. Load your office down with things you’d like to make progress on over the long term, and do the same with your home.
Thus, when you are distracted, something that Bregman more or less describes as inevitable, the things you’re distracted by are also things that relate to a long-term goal. For example, if one of your big goals is improving your fitness, put a resistance band near your desk. That way, when you’re distracted, you will see that band and do some stretches, filling your time with something goal-oriented instead of something useless.
The entire focus of this book seems to be dealing with our overcrowded lives, where our day-to-day activities don’t match up with the things we want out of our lives. I found that it offered a lot of good, sensible advice, but the specific implementations seem to be extremely varied in that you’re going to find some that work for you and a lot that do not, and the ones that work for you are going to be different than the ones that work for someone else.
For me, I felt like I got quite a lot out of this book. The ideas in it made me reorganize my office in a more“goal-oriented” fashion, as described above, as that was the most powerful idea that came from this book for me. If I can get one “home run” idea from a book, then it was a worthwhile read for me, and I think there are a lot of “home run”ideas in this book for people struggling with time management.