Not all the methodologies and techniques that help us manage our time are highly sophisticated. One of the most easily implemented is the ’18 minutes’ method, which is based on a very simple idea: being productive only depends on how we plan our day and what we do in 18 minutes which will be key to our performance.
Whose idea was it?
Peter Bregman is, among many other things, a regular contributor to the famous digital magazine Harvard Business Review. Moreover, he is the developer of ’18 minutes’, a method that he explains in detail in his book ‘18 minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done’.
As the author says, ‘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 that we start every workday knowing that we are not going to get it all done. So how we are going to spend our time is a key strategic decision. But ‘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?’.
18 minutes and 3 simple steps
According to Bregman, we need to turn our time management into a ritual. A list or a vague sense of our priorities is just neither enough nor consistent. We need to be constantly focused on our priorities ‘no matter what’.
He thinks it is possible to do so by following 3 simple steps that take less than 18 minutes:
- Step 1 (5 minutes) Set plan for the day. Before even turning on your computer, take a blank piece of paper and make a list with your priorities because those are the tasks that, when accomplished, will make you feel really productive. Then (and this is essential) schedule them by placing the hardest and most important ones at the beginning of the day and try to accomplish them before checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize it. There is great power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.
- Step 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set a number of alarms to ring every hour. Take a deep breath and use one minute to review your list and ask yourself whether you’ve been productive during the last hour. Then look at your calendar and change anything you need to make the best out of your next hour. Manage your day hour by hour instead of letting the hours manage you.
- Step 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your whole day. What went right? Where did you focus and what got you distracted? Have you learnt anything that will help you be more productive tomorrow? Funny enough, the power of rituals lies in their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again, thus you can predict the results. If you choose wisely what to focus on and consistently remind yourself of that, you’ll be able to get rid of distractions and be more productive.
And yes, it is this simple. With this method and Kiply’s help, there’s no excuse for leaving the office feeling unproductive. Enhancing your time management skills and productivity was never this easy!