The 18 Minute Technique to Plan your Day

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Aniket Deolikar
Consultant, India

The 18 Minute Technique to Plan your Day

Did it ever happened to you that you had lots of energy and a plan to have a great working day and you went to the office in a very positive mood, but due to circumstances, the day didn't go as planned at all and in the end, you felt disappointed. It might be due to some unexpected emails, or you might have ended up helping other people, or perhaps you were so busy with urgent things that you forgot what you wanted to accomplish that day.

This happens quite often because planning is only half the effort but the other important part is execution.
If this sounds like a situation of being unfocused that you have quite often, than perhaps Bregman's 18-minute time management technique to manage your 8-hour workday is something you might use (or adapt to your own needs):
  1. TAKE 5 MINUTES TO SET THE PLAN: When you go to work, before starting the computer take a piece of paper and decide what will make your day productive and successful. Make a list of realistic tasks that will help you achieve your goal. Add these things in the time slots of the day and see if you will be able to complete them if the list is too long for the day then reprioritize your tasks. It is really important to decide which things you are going to do because research has stated that when you decide to do some work, the chances of getting that completed are very high unlike when you are unsure about completing it. It will take only 5 minutes to do this, after making the list keep this in your sight while you are working or somewhere it is easily accessible.
  2. REFOCUS FOR 1 MINUTE EACH HOUR: You can set reminders for each hour in your computer or watch. After each hour, look at the list and see how much of the work you have completed. Ask yourself if the last hour was good and productive. If you are lagging behind this hour, then try to cover it up in the next hour by pushing yourself. This will ensure that you are managing your time and not like the time is managing you.
  3. REVIEW AND FEEDBACK FOR 5 MINUTES: After you have completed the day's work and you have turned off the computer/laptop, review your work done during the whole day. Check if your tasks are completed. Ask yourself questions such as where did you get distracted? What was the productive part? Where did you feel you can do better? Note the crucial points down to improvise on them the next day.
Using the 18 minutes technique will help you focus ruthlessly on the things which are of utmost importance and actually execute them. At the end of the day you will feel more productive and focused than before.

Sources: Peter Bregman, "An 18-Minute Plan for Managing Your Day", Harvard Business Review, July 20, 2009.

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