Book Review: The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington: Review by Jacqueline Thompson Graves

COVID has changed everything, hasn’t it? There are so many versions of the “new normal” that we could sit, drinking and list them for hours.

You know things have changed when a book published 7 years ago has a waiting list at the library. The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington is suddenly as new again as making pot roast in your Crockpot and growing tomatoes.

Perhaps it’s driven by people working from home. When you work from home, you feel as if you are your own boss. No one sees whether or not you are working or Netflixing or lying in your hammock in the sunshine. If you don’t plan your day well, it gets away from you and your output is kaput.

Perhaps the book’s resurgence is also driven by people whose jobs disappeared, so they are reinventing themselves as business owners or commission-only salespeople. When you start a new business, no one but you (and your hungry dog) cares if it succeeds or not.

The 12 Week Year is just what it sounds like – planning 12 week portions at a time rather than in annual chunks. The book takes you through a mindset and then a process that can transform your entire approach to your daily work, whether for your personal to-dos (“gotta get this weight off”) or your business life (“how can I make the cold calls I need?”). As I read, I found myself nodding along in agreement to much of what the authors posited. “Makes sense,” I said to the dog. They insist planning on an annual basis is ineffective. “In January, December looks a long way off.” Creating shorter timelines for yourself or your team creates an urgency to help you reach your objectives.

“In 12 weeks each day counts toward reaching your goals,” Moran and Lennington tell us. During COVID’s quarantine when days run into each other and months morph together, this advice totally resonated with me. When the crisis began I had a list of things the hubster and I could do: painting several rooms, reorganizing my study and my studio, serious landscaping, cleaning out closets, you know, probably much of the same stuff on your list. I started with a bang, but then the monotony of the Crisis got to me and I fell under the COVID Spell, weaving through the days trying to remember what life looked like before 2020 attacked us.

I read The 12 Week Year and pounced on my study. I Marie Kondoed that room, pulling out every last thing searching for joy. (How much joy can one find in Pendaflex folders?) We painted. I yanked down the 90s era shades I inherited with the house. I flip-flopped the furniture and unblocked the windows. I donated. I threw away. I clapped my hands in glee as I stood in the doorway surveying my work. One week – that’s all it took. My original plan allowed for one month, but my new 12 Week mindset gave me one week to drop everything, get my rear in gear and get ‘er done. Now I work in a beautiful setting – uncluttered, clean, organized, decorated. I’m even thinking of inviting Miss Kondo over for tea.

The authors teach readers about the “emotional cycle of change” we go through when thinking about or planning something new. The first phase – uninformed optimism – is the euphoric phase and the most emotionally high you will ever be. Because of that, as we get into the hard work of actually doing, we tend to find excuses to quit. Just knowing and being prepared for this cycle helped me push through to complete my study project.

One thing the authors address is being people who keep our promises, people of commitment. I needed to hear this: “It is OK to say no. People would rather you say no than break a promise.” We say yes in the moment because we don’t want to disappoint the asker, but we eventually disappoint that asker far, far more when they count on us and we don’t make yes a reality.

I believe this book is one of those that will become a classic for time management and business methods. Even just for handling your personal productivity, it’s a game changer. I completely recommend it. And now, I’m off to tackle that studio!

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington, ISBN: 978-1-118-50923-4

The 12 Week Year can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. It is available in hardback, paperback and e-book versions. Published by John Wiley & Sons.

You may visit www.12weekyear.com and sign up for a weekly inspirational email. Also at the site are 3 short introductory videos that explain the book’s tenets.

Jacqueline Thompson Graves lives and writes in Cumming, GA where she is currently growing tomatoes on the deck and has a nice pot roast in the slow cooker. She invites you to engage at her book review blog: www.thebookbuffet.wordpress.com