When to say YES or NO?

Where did the day go?

Everyday are we confronted by important tasks that we need to accomplish or important events that we need to attend to. It could be a presentation requested by your boss, a market study that you have to submit a week from now, a client meeting, your presence to your child's piano recital, doing your homework or just as simple as doing the groceries, paying the bills, having the car fixed and the list goes on. With a long list of things to do and with the need to tick all those one out the soonest time possible, we often catch ourselves in the middle of the tangle of these ought to be responsibilities. Moreover, at the end of the day, even after we tick all our written tasks out, we still find ourselves feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied, leading us back to the question, "Where did the day go?".

18 Minutes by Peter Bregman tells us how to navigate through our day so that we could feel happier and more fulfilled at the end of it. Most of the time, management books out there will outline ways to cram all the things that we ought to do in a day but 18 Minutes, on the other hand, thinks its counterproductive because we really cannot do everything in a short span of time and it builds up bad feelings of incompetency and inadequacy when we are not able to do what we had set out to do. Even so, he's not suggesting that we only do the minimal but is instead encouraging us to establish our few, top priorities in which we could base our decisions from for the rest of the year.

Paralysis often hits us when the volume of tasks overwhelms us; and this is the reality of most. We load our to-do lists with these and that but we end up accomplishing none because the hugeness of the responsibility swamps us. It is true that either some of the tasks that we have on our list can be best delegated to another person who has the skill and inclination to work on it or that some of those tasks proves to be time-wasters, but since we human-beings are very accommodating (especially us, Filipinos), we blindly accept and still carry on with those.

Think the meeting you are scheduled to attend will just steal your time in finishing a more important project, then do not go. Phone rings while you are in the zone writing an essay for your English class, then do not answer it. You think that your colleague will be more apt to do a market study that has been delegated to you by your boss, then say so. An important and unexpected client meeting coincides with the birthday dinner of your daughter, then weigh which of the two matters more to you.

Slow down, pause and assess yourself and the things that are most important to you. Finding your focus is vital and that is the one thing that this book keeps reiterating on. Having priorities makes it easier for you to master distractions and decide whether to move ahead on a certain task or not. Moreover, keep your priorities few and manageable. The key here is to not do everything but to move forward. 

Devise an everyday plan around your established priorities. Decide which of the tasks at hand deserve your utmost attention and if a task does not fall under your priorities, delay doing it or scrap it outright from your list. More importantly, reassess every now and then (every hour if you could!) your progress so that you could easily steer back to your pre-determined course when you had gone off-track or tweak your plan if it does not anymore serve you well.

If you are feeling out of focus and lost in a sea of opportunities and responsibilities, 18 Minutes will bring you back in. Bregman outlined beautifully in this book the steps you can take to maximize your potential to achieve things that will make you happy and successful; backed up with anecdotes that will entertain, and at the same time strike you. 

A fulfilling day adds up to a fulfilling year. Let us make everyday as productive as ever so that if we look back at the end of each day, each year and life itself, we will be able to say "I used my time well".

 

I bought this book at Bibliarch.