18 Minutes: Find your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman


There are hundreds of time-management books on the market, but 18 MINUTES isn’t one of them. It’s more of an effectiveness management book. It won’t show you how to get everything done, it will show you how to get the right things done.

The opening section is about finding our true purpose. Most writers won’t need this since we already know we were put on Earth to write. However, it’s easy to fill our days with all the wrong things. Getting clear on our purpose is an essential part of using our time effectively.

The next section is about planning our days, starting with the decision not to get everything done. By trying to do it all, people lose focus on what’s important. Thus Bregman’s brilliant advice that in addition to a “to-do” list, everyone needs an “ignore” list. He suggests five minutes to plan in the morning, five to evaluate in the evening, and one-minute check-ups every hour. (Thus the 18 minutes of the title.)

In an ideal world, we’d all power through our to-do lists without any interference, but nobody lives in that world. We have to manage our distractions from others and ourselves. Bregman shows what happens when we stop multitasking, how to make hard jobs easier by changing our environment, and when good enough is actually the best thing. After all, productivity is more important than perfection. (Writers know this as the mantra, “Get it written, then get it right.”)

Although most of 18 MINUTES is focused on individual self-improvement, the format is similar to many easy-reading books for businesspeople. Each section opens with an introduction and ends with bullet points, and each chapter starts with an anecdote. All the anecdotes fit, although some are kind of forced and I wonder if they were invented for the book.

But these are minor concerns and probably more the choice of the publisher than the author. Don’t let the cheesy format stop you from absorbing Bregman’s rock-solid advice. He ends by suggesting we focus on just one thing. One. That’s all it takes to make a positive change. A good place to start is by reading 18 MINUTES.


18 MINUTES can be found here.


rating: 4 stars


This book is best for: all writers


I recommend this book

2 thoughts on “18 Minutes: Find your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman

  1. “just one thing”

    Sounds just my kinda book. I’ve conducted a life-long war against distraction, which in large part I have lost.

    The Mars/Venus silliness aside, I believe that humans can do only one thing at a time and the much-vaunted multi-tasking is a unicorn. All else is BS.

    Mind, the world seems to exist on a diet of BS.

    I’ll take a look.

    Ah Bientot!


  2. Can’t remember where I read it… some similar book. The advice was to put all your focus on what is right in front of you, what you need to attend to right now before you move onto the next thing. It certainly helps with hospice nursing. I must attend to one patient at a time– can’t be thinking about the next patient when I am dealing with the current patient.

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