STEP 1 (5 Minutes): Your Morning Minutes. This is your opportunity to plan ahead. Before turning on your computer, sit down with the to-do list you created in chapter 22, “Bird by Bird,” and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your focus for the year and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling that you’ve been productive and successful? Then take those things off your to-do list and schedule them into your calendar, as we discussed in chapter 24, “When Tomorrow?” And don’t neglect chapter 25, “The Three-Day Rule”: Make sure that anything that’s been on your list for three days gets a slot somewhere in your calendar or move it off the list.
STEP 2 (1 Minute Every Hour): Refocus. Now, remember chapter 26, “Who Are You?” Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour and start the work that’s listed on your calendar. When you hear the beep, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.
STEP 3 (5 Minutes): Your Evening Minutes. At the end of your day, shut off your computer and review how the day went, asking yourself the three sets of questions listed in chapter 27, “It’s Amazing What You Find When You Look.” Questions like: How did the day go? What did I learn about myself? Is there anyone I need to update? Shoot off a couple of emails or calls to make sure you’ve communicated with the people you need to contact.
The power of ritual is in its predictability. If you do the same thing in the same way over and over again, the outcome is predictable. In the case of 18 minutes, you’ll get the right things done.