Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want.
2015. HarperOne. 258 pgs with acknowledgements, notes and index. More resources to accompany the book can be found at: http://www.peterbregman.com/four-seconds.
Other books I’ve read by Bregman: 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done. Bregman is also the author of a popular blog on the Harvard Business Review website.
I’ve been a fan of Bregman’s thoughtful, emotionally honest writing about improvement in business for some time. When his new book, Four Seconds came out, I knew I had to get it and read it. Who knows, maybe his advice will help me carve out more time for reading Guardian 1,000 titles!
One of Bregman’s constant themes is trying to answer the question of how can we be effective as leaders when we are crushed by mounting deadlines, avalanches of information and constant distraction? The answer in his latest book is to pause for as few as four seconds and replace negative reactions with positive and productive actions. This simple premise is the heart of the whole book — and while it sounds too basic to be helpful — Bregman fleshes it out with a multitude of rich, specific advice and examples. The book is organized into three broad areas of focus:
- changing your mental defaults,
- strengthening relationships, and
- optimizing work habits.
Each of the three sections is chunked into further small sections which explore a specific sub-theme. Further, each sub-section is summarized in a box at the end of the sub-section, delivering that idea in a summary of about three-four sentences. Talk about efficiency in writing! I know I’m going to be browsing through these summaries on a regular basis. Some of the advice is as specific as: check your email only three times a day, or stop venting to co-workers, while other is broad-based:
Setting goals isn’t always a beneficial habit. Identify and spend your time on areas of focus instead and you’ll get where you want to go more effectively.
By the way, if you are interested in more books about productivity, check out Productivity Porn! a list I curate over on GoodReads.