How to Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and get the Right Things Done.

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Time Management Solutions from Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes

You sit down at your desk at 9:00 O’clock on a Wednesday morning knowing you have one thing you need accomplish: write a proposal for a new client you have a meeting within two days. But, three phone calls, fifteen emails, two trips to the bathroom, thirty minutes of buying plane tickets for your family vacation, and four impromptu conversations with employees later, you haven’t started the proposal. Now you receive a notification that you have a lunch appointment in fifteen minutes.  You wonder, “Where did the morning go?”

If this situation sounds familiar, keep reading.

Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes provides a solution to the everyday feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. His approach to time management teaches readers how to find your focus, master distraction, and get the right things done.

One major theme in 18 Minutes is the power of the pause. Bregman makes an interesting point: “There is no rule that says we have to react to a situation immediately.”

So the next time you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, pause. Take a moment to breathe. Then, choose which direction you want to move. To understand more about the power of the pause, consider these helpful time management solutions from Peter Bregman’s 18 minutes.

What to do when a co-worker asks for your help on a project they are working on:

Pause. Identify if it is okay to say no by answering these three questions:

  1. Am I the right person?
  2. Is this the right time?
  3. Do I have enough information?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, then don’t do it. If you are not the right person, pass the project on to the right person. If it is not the right time, schedule a meeting during a time you are available to help. If you don’t have enough information, either you or someone else needs to get it.

So, next time a co-worker ask for help on a project, answer the three questions to identify if you should agree to help, or if you need to offer an alternative solution. When you try to be too available and too helpful, you will end up feeling overwhelmed, which, in turn, you become unhelpful and unproductive. “Resist the temptation to say yes too often.”

What to do about the 60-minute meeting that should have taken 30 minutes:

Schedule transition time before the meeting. Pause. Ask yourself:

“How can I make this shorter, faster, and more productive?”

Take 5-10 minutes before the beginning of a meeting to plan how you will maximize the outcome of what you want to achieve. Think about what you really need from people. Then, tell everyone in the room you want to make the 60 minute meeting 30 minutes. Communicate how you plan to do it, and what you need from everyone in the room to make it happen.

Almost anything thing that could be done in 60 minutes can be done in 45. But, when you don’t take a moment to transition and review your plan, people become distracted, and the conversation strays off topic, so the meeting drags on. Before your next meeting, make sure you schedule time to review your plan before you walk into the room.“A few moments of transition time can help make your next task shorter, faster and more productive for you and others.”

What to do when you are notified that your lunch appointment is in 15 minutes, and you wonder, “Where did the morning go?”

Literally, pause every hour for a brief interruption.

Every morning, set your phone, watch, computer, or timer to chime every hour. When you hear the beep, take 1 minute to pause, and reflect on how you have spent the past hour. Ask yourself if you have been trying to accomplish too much, or if you are focusing on the wrong things. Then, commit to how you will use the next 60 minutes to accomplish what you need to do.

Setting a timer every hour can help you stay on task throughout the day. So, the next time you receive a notification that your lunch appointment is in 15 minutes, you will know the answer to the question, Where did the morning go? “The right kind of interruption can help you master your time and yourself. Keep yourself focused and steady by interrupting yourself hourly.”

The 18-minute Rule

Bregman’s solution to feeling overwhelmed is a daily 18 minute ritual. Each morning, take 5 minutes to plan out your day and decide what you want to accomplish. Each hour, pause for 1 minute to reflect on how you have used your time. At the end of each day, use 5 minutes to decide what you will do tomorrow to ensure you are productive again.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed with an endless to-do list, know that you are not alone. Apply these solutions to ensure that you are making the most out of every day this year.

There are many other common everyday problems Peter Bregman has solutions to. If you would like to learn more about his time management methods, visit his website: Peter Bregman 18 Minutes. If you would like to purchase your own copy of 18 minutes visit: Barnes and Noble

To read book review of 18 Minutes visit: Small Business Trends