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18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done [Hardcover]

Peter Bregman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 28 2011
Based upon his weekly Harvard Business Review columns (which is one of the most popular columns on HBR.com, receiving hundreds of thousands of unique page views a month), 18 MINUTES clearly shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus on those key items which are truly the top priorities in our lives.

Bregman works from the premise that the best way to combat constant and distracting interruptions is to create productive distractions of one's own. Based upon a series of short bite-sized chapters, his approach allows us to safely navigate through the constant chatter of emails, text messages, phone calls, and endless meetings that prevent us from focusing our time on those things that are truly important to us.

Mixing first-person insights along with unique case studies, Bregman sprinkles his charming book with pathways which help guide us -- pathways that can get us on the right trail in 18 minutes or less.

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18 MINUTES is an intensely smart, insanely readable, and eminently practical guide to boosting our effectiveness and deepening our satisfaction. I've already benefited from the ideas in is book in my own work. So will you.

-- Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind (

Pick this book up and read it. Bregman's wisdom, humility, and ability to tell a great story run through every page of this gem. 18 Minutes is the best blend of a business book and a self-help book I have ever read.

--Robert Sutton, Stanford University Professor and bestselling author of Good Boss, Bad Boss (

Feeling in control of your time is a key element of happiness. In the thoughtful, practical, and often funny 18 MINUTES, Peter Bregman explains how to make sure we have plenty of time to do the things that matter most to us -- so that our lives reflect our true values and priorities.

--Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project (

Bregman has taken the advice from his popular Harvard Business Review columns and turned it into a book for people who feel that they don't have enough hours in the day to do what they need to do. He offers straightforward advice: focus your priorities at the annual, daily, and moment-to-moment level; determine your goals; eliminate distractions that don't let you achieve those goals; and be firm regarding your boundaries. While the reader has no doubt heard this advice from other self-help books, Bregman's anecdotes are helpful and funny, his advice is sound, and his points are easy to grasp. Hopefully readers will find what he has to say useful and not just a retread of things they already know--multitasking is a myth, take time to refocus throughout the day, motivate your employees with fun--from other sources.

--Publishers Weekly (

About the Author

Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners, a global management consultancy where he is the advisor to CEOs as well as to their top management teams on leadership and workplace issues. He is based in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have been following Peter Bregman's HBR blog posts for several years and consider him one of the most thoughtful and most eloquent of commentators on the contemporary business world. You can thus understand my eagerness as I began to read this book.

Others have their own reasons for admiring this book. Here are three of mine. First, Bregman is a diehard pragmatist with an insatiable curiosity to understand what works, what doesn't, and why so he that can then share what he considers most important with those who read his columns and now this book. He suggests (and I agree) that "we steal time from ourselves constantly" because I do every day. He offers practical advice that I began to follow as I proceeded through the narrative. All of his advice makes sense but it will work only if I give it a fighting chance. For example, slow down the pace at which I proceed from one task (completed or not) to another (completed or not). I now sprint for 12-15 minutes, then stop for 3-5 minutes and listen to selections from my favorite classical music from CDs such as "The Only Classical CD You'll Ever Need" and Pachelbel Canon and Other Baroque Hits," selections that have a calming effect. Bregman also suggests starting over in the sense that, if I could, would I commit to [fill in the blank] again? Reconstructing one ill-advised decision helps to avoid making another.

I also appreciate Bregman's heavy emphasis on improving the process by which to ask questions. Only then, when answering them, can priorities be determined, goals and deadlines set, and non-essentials eliminated. For example, what is really important in each domain of my life (i.e. personal, domestic, career, and community)? What must be done within the next hour? What must be done by noon? By day's end? By week's end?
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5.0 out of 5 stars This works and it can change your life March 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Bregman is a genius. Check out his web site and be inspired.
He is practical in a way we can put to work right away but most of all motivation to take action.
Changes happen right away in a way that is a life change.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcistic delirium Jan. 16 2014
By baram
This book is about how author loves himself. There are scientific researches, no deep thought, nothing. All book is kid-like stories about how it is important to save your time. Weasting time book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  226 reviews
165 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspirational Handbook for Improving Performance in Just 18 Minutes a Day Sept. 24 2011
By Todd Cherches - BigBlueGumball - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having just finished reading Peter Bregman's new book, "18 Minutes," I am simultaneously invigorated and exhausted.

(Actually, "read" is not the right word - "devoured" is more like it.)

I am INVIGORATED in that this combination business book and self-help book has inspired me to start looking at, thinking about, and doing some things differently...starting with the simple reminder that we need to regularly stop -- to pause, reflect, recharge, recalibrate, and refocus - for just 18 minutes a day (5 minutes at the beginning; eight 1-minute check-ins during the day; and 5 minutes at the end).

Leveraging his engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking talent for storytelling (as exhibited regularly in his HBR blog posts), Bregman provides readers with a variety of tools, tips, and techniques intended to help us enhance our productivity and maximize our potential.

And why am I "EXHAUSTED"? Because, in addition to my head spinning from the numerous impactful and memorable stories that I want to remember, the refreshing new insights I gained, and a short list of simple-but-meaningful actions I now plan to take, I started reading the book around midnight last night and couldn't put it down until I finished the entire thing, in one sitting, at four a.m. this morning (luckily it's a Saturday).

Seriously, reading this book is like having a personal and professional life coach standing right beside you -- providing success tips, keeping you focused, and cheering you on along the way.

UPDATE: I just re-read this book in greater detail (as mentioned above, the first time I read it I whipped through it in four hours because I couldn't put it down due to the great storytelling). But this time I focused not just on the INSIGHTS I gained, but on the ACTIONS I want, and need, and plan to take -- both personally and professionally, including the creation of my own personalized/customized version of the Bregman "Six Box Planning Tool" (page 118). If you take nothing else from this book (and I doubt that would happen), this tool alone will help you organize your to-do list, focus, and get things (the right things!) done. But like any tool, it's all about the using. Good intentions and proper planning will get you started; dedication, execution, follow-through, resilience, and a commitment to excellence is what gets results. I just upgraded my rating from 4-stars to 5-stars for this terrific book.
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 24 good pages but too much padding on either side April 3 2012
By bobdc - Published on Amazon.com
The title of this book and most discussions I've seen are about chapters 22 - 28. These 24 pages (in the electronic edition I read) have some great tips on time and goal management and the relationship between these. The 21 chapters before and the 18 chapters afterwards are fairly standard business/self-help pep talks. The "Where we are" and "Where we've landed" sections try to make the padding relevant to the book's core, but they seem a bit retrofitted to justify those other parts.

Here's a time management tip: The content of chapters 1 - 21 and 29 - 46 could each be summed up on a post-it note, and if you go to the end of each of those chapters, you'll see a box around the post-it note version, so just read that.

(Also, unless he's trying to create some cute coinage, "overwhelm" is not a noun. It's always a verb.)
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Check in with yourself to make sure you're on the right path Sept. 14 2011
By Tina - Published on Amazon.com
Drawing from his Harvard Business Review columns, Peter Bregman offers advice to those of us who have too much to do. He points out that paying attention to every single thing we come across takes time away from focusing on the things in our lives that truly matter. Many of his tips - such as not responding to things immediately - seem to be common sense, but how many of us truly apply this when we're caught up in our daily activity?

To focus on the "right" things, Bregman encourages us to slow down. By delaying reactions to demands, we can make sure we're reacting the right way and taking on tasks that align with our goals. Think through things carefully and react to the desired outcome instead of the event. What's the ultimate result you want?

Later in the book, he explains his title, "18 Minutes". We need a discipline to stay focused on our day. His 18 minutes refers to five minutes planning at the beginning and end of the day, and one minute per hour (assuming an eight-hour work day) to stop and ask if you're on track. Reflect on the day. Did you do what you expected? What needs to change? If you're not monitoring your progress and checking in with yourself regularly, it's hard to stay focused.

Many time management books focus on how to get things done in less time. I agree with Bregman that maybe what we really need is to do less. As we find our focus, our days can be more manageable. And I definitely agree that working 24/7 keeps us from living a balanced life since we're obviously not leaving space for the other parts of our lives. Whatever your goals, don't forget to enjoy the ride. At the end, no one wishes they worked more.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Hachette Book Group.
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide for planning your hour, your day, your year, your life Sept. 30 2011
By Joyce R. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Peter Bregman's new book. I'm a bit skeptical of the self-help genre in general, but what makes this book different from other time management books is the author's grasp of the big picture. Other books on getting organized are only useful if you're absolutely confident in what you want to accomplish. At the other extreme, find-the-meaning-of-life gurus generally don't have much to say on managing your inbox. The book follows a "zoom in" logic from the largest questions of life--Who am I? What do I value? What are my strengths and weaknesses?--to the most minute details. The titles of the four parts are: I. Pause, II. What Is This Year About? III. What Is This Day About? IV. What Is This Moment About? The idea is that by always keeping in mind what is important and what is not, you can avoid falling into the trap of mechanically checking off to-do lists without regard for the content. The stories that Bregman tells to make his points are beautifully written, genuine, and thoughtful. You will not find any gimmicky acronyms or corporate buzzword babble. My only criticism is that at times there seems to be a lack of recognition of how difficult it can be to implement change in one's life. Then again, it would be a bigger problem if the author of this kind of book wasn't optimistic. All in all, reading has been a thought-provoking experience that is helping me focus on my priorities and plan my days accordingly.
64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unreadable garbage - "chicken soup for the working stiff" would have been a more accurate title Sept. 12 2012
By Eric - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Don't judge a book by it's cover or its reviews - "18 minutes" might suggest that this book is about some well tested methodology for getting focused and getting work done, but it's really just a collection of loosely related inspirational fluff. Also, reading this book after accepting its rapturous reviews marks the last time I trust customer reviews without a few good editorial reviews. Something here stinks.

As for this horrid book: Bregman piles on quirky, tangentially related anecdotes that remind me of a boring high school graduation speech circa 2008. You'll hear the inspiring story of Susan Boyle and the pilot who landed the plane near Manhattan. If you're wondering why he wrote the book, he loosely sprinkles in stories of his own meandering career in a way that doesn't add much of anything.

The advice is generalized and loosely organized enough to be useless. You owe it to yourself to at least read the table of contents before you read a paragraph. Some sample chapter titles - "Leverage your strengths", "Embrace your weaknesses", "Pursue your passion (Desire)". Sound riveting? Then don't let me stop you.
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