FAQs about 18 Minutes
Over the last few weeks several people have sent me questions about 18 Minutes and using the 18 Minutes process. Rather than answer each person individually, I decided to create a blog post that is public so more people could benefit from the questions and answers. If anyone has any questions, answers, insights, or thoughts, please add them to the comments section – this can be a central place to gather the wisdom of the crowd. Thanks – and thanks for reading 18 Minutes!
Thank you for your book. I have read GTD twice and have never been able to find the time to implement even making the filing system! I felt defeated. Your simplified methodology makes total sense to me. I have one question: where do you keep your daily task sheet? Have you ever thought of having them printed to fit a Filofax or some such binder? I am a paper person and have gone back to this calendar, but can’t figure out how to make your sheet fit!. Many thanks.
I have a plastic see-through folder where I keep 20 or so sheets of plain 81/2 x 11 white copy paper. I put my daily 6 box to do list in that folder. I use the folder as my catch all for the day – it’s where I take my notes from meetings, keep papers that people give me throughout the day and even throw receipts in it.
You might be able to print out the pdf in a smaller size (see your printer settings) or photocopy them in a reduced size. But it’s also simple enough that you could just draw the six boxes on your Filofax paper each time you create a new list.
Where does the content from the Ignore list come from? How is it different from the Someday/Maybe list?
Every time I work on something – or I’m tempted to work on something – that does not feel like a good use of my time, I add that thing to my ignore list. I recently sat down with some friends and we made a fun list of things that we think are better to ignore – smaller things – but lots of people added things of their own. You can find that list here: http://peterbregman.com/no-thanks.
The things that go on my someday/maybe list are things that I am not absolutely certain I want to ignore yet. But, the truth is, I’ve become much more courageous about saying no and I rarely use the someday/maybe list. These days, if I’m sure enough to put it on my someday/maybe list, then I just go ahead and put it on my ignore list, admitting to myself that it’s something I just wont get done.
If you have several projects that fit into your areas of focus, how do those tasks find their way to your daily 18 min. list? Is the 18 min list what you would like to accomplish for one day that is pulled from your “to-do collection lists”?
My daily 18 minutes list is my calendar. I take things off my 6 box to do list and place them onto my calendar every morning. Then, for the most part, I work off my calendar, not my to do list.
If I’ve put an appointment in my calendar that’s broader than an activity – for example I might put “Phone calls” for 30 minutes – then I refer to my to do list to see which phone calls I need to make. I also use my to do list through out the day to add tasks as they come up. But, most of the time, I’m working off my calendar.
What kind of planner or calendar do you personally use that you find works well with 18 minutes?
I use iCal on my mac and iPhone. I don’t think it matters which calendar you use, as long as you use it to manage your day.
Is there an electronic copy of the 6 box to do list that allows you to type in your daily to do list or does that have to be a handwritten exercise. The file I downloaded does not allow me type into it.
Right now all we’ve created is the pdf version that’s downloadable from the website. It’s pretty straightforward to duplicate in word though – just create a table with two columns and three rows. But I like using pen and paper rather than a computer because pen and paper forces me to rewrite items day by day and that helps me avoid keeping items on my to list forever.
Some people asked for me to send the link to the PDF (of the 6 box to do list) and some were like: You still write on paper? When I was using the worksheets, I thought the same thing, I barely ever write on paper, like remember Daytimers? What if you made an app for the iPad or iPhone for 18 Minutes worksheets?
I’ve thought about that – though I haven’t gotten around to even begin to figure out how I might make it happen. I do sometimes use an app called “Things.” I use one “Area of Responsibilities” for each of my 5 areas of focus. It doesn’t print out the way I like in a grid – and I find it doesn’t work as well for me as paper (I’ll explain why in a second) – but it is an electronic way of creating the to do list if you’re looking for that. If you come up with other ideas, please comment below.
I know it’s arcane – but I like paper. Somehow it helps keep me focused on the most important things – in part precisely because I need to write things over again each day – it prevents me from leaving things on the list that I never get to. And I love to cross things off a list – much more satisfying than hitting delete!
Recently purchased 18 Minutes and couldn’t put it down. Thanks for the enjoyable and thought provoking read! I want to give the approach a try but have a few clarifying questions. Do the items that get placed on the 18 minutes daily to do list come from a master list for each area of focus? For example with “do great work with current clients”, you could be working with several clients or with “attract future clients” you might have a list of 20 things you could or want to do. Are you referring to other lists every day to populate the daily list?
For every area of focus, I have a sheet of paper where I keep all my ideas. It’s not a to do list exactly, more of a brainstorm – but it could be a master to do list if you want to think of it that way. The, when I’m pulling together my daily to do list, I will sometimes look to those sheets of paper for ideas.
Do you rewrite the list each day? For example you have “write book chapter on to-do list”. What if you are not sure how long something like that will take you? Do you just keep blocking out time until the task is completed?
I do generally rewrite the 6 box to do list each day. And I try to chunk the tasks into small enough chunks that I can complete them in a few hours. As you know, my book chapters are short – about 1,000 words long – and I can usually write one in 4-5 hours.
How does this approach tie with long-range planning? For example: with “do great work with current clients” You may have some milestone tasks that need to done by a certain date. You would need to be working on those in advance, say designing a training program or prepping for a client meeting. What triggers the tasks to make it to the Daily list?
As I mentioned in answer to a question above, I do use the app “Things” for some things – and it’s most useful to me as a memory. When I am waiting for a response from someone, I will schedule a reminder to ping me. Sometimes, if I have a series of milestone tasks that need to be done by a certain date, I’ll have it remind me a week before hand so I can work it into my workflow.
Do you block time to process emails and phone calls into your calendar?
Absolutely. I do my best not to answer emails as they come in – that becomes a time suck. It’s much better to cordon off time and fly through as many as you can in your allotted time.
Is there someplace where one can go to post messages and ask questions about the book content?
This blog post is the best place to post messages and questions. If you go to the comments section and ask questions, I’ll do my best to answer them all. The added advantage is that you can access the collective wisdom of other readers – anyone can respond to questions and share perspectives, ideas, and wisdom.
Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds. To receive an email when he posts, click here.