Reading 2013: 18 Minutes

April 23, 2013


In 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done Peter Bregman offers timeless wisdom for the possibly age-old question of how to get it (all) done.

Beyond Efficiency

Several productivity books that I’ve read this year look at productivity through the lens of simplicity. They’re certainly not promoting a productivity that offers to cram as much into life as possible so that you can cram even more in every nook and cranny. Rather, doing less, focusing on just a few things at a time, and eliminating the unnecessary have all been core themes of these books. But 18 Minutes takes it a step beyond simplicity, and more directly realigns everything to the central question of, “Am I pursuing the right thing, anyway?”

Bregman encourages readers to take a macroscopic view of their lives and ask where they want the trajectory to head. Zooming in, the same question can be asked of the year, the day, and the moment — what is it about?

Like other simplicity-productivity books, there is also encouragement to slow down, do less multi-tasking, choose only a few items of importance, and make a concentrated effort to focus on what is most important.

The book is filled with a lot of rich life principles. These make up chapters and divisions, but if studied more in-depth, most could be an entire exploration of their own.

A Parenting Book in Disguise

I’m a strong proponent for borrowing an idea from one field and applying that idea to another different field. Yet I think most any parent reading this book would see many direct applications to parenting, even beyond the normal cross-pollination that occurs while reading. Bregman often includes anecdotes from his experience as a father of three, and uses lessons learned from parenting to apply to productivity; so it’s quite easy to flip the lessons the other way.

As cross-pollination goes, I found some of the sections on motivation to be particularly helpful in thinking of ways that I am teaching my children to learn to self-motivate and to take on projects and tasks as they journey toward adulthood. (E.g., Just like we often need the motivation to take the first few steps, so do our children, and sometimes we can be the gentle hand that helps them take the first few steps.) The tie-in with habit-training concepts was quite helpful, and gave me a lot of food for thought as we learn and grow together as a family.

Table of Contents: 

18mina 18minb 18minc 18mind 18mine


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  • Tracy Penwell April 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Whoa! For simplifying, that sure is a whole lot of table of contents there!!

  • 2013 in Books: Books Completed January 1, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    […] 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done (Peter Bregman) (Review here) […]