The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes at Work and at Home

By Allyson Lewis, Kaplan Publishing, hard cover, $20.


I know you’re thinking: What the world needs now is another self-help book, right? That’s the thought I had, too.

But (and for full editorial disclosure) because Allyson Lewis is not only a lifelong friend who for years shared birthday parties with my sister, but handles some personal finances for me out of her Jonesboro office, I’ve given her latest book a gander.


Actually, it didn’t happen that simply. Her book arrived in the mail, and at first glance, I thought it was more personal investing material that usually gets a quick once over, then stacks up with everything else. The title in big bold letters screamed “The Seven Minute Difference.” Great, I can make myself a millionaire with just seven minutes spent reading the market report, I figured (Lewis’ previous book, geared toward financial planning for the future, was titled “The Million-Dollar Car and the $250,000 Pizza”).

But one day, the smaller words caught me: “Small steps to BIG CHANGES at work and at home.” And at that minute, my thinking was, boy, could I use some help.


It’s a fairly quick read, in fact, for 244 pages, and an informative one too. Lewis, not only a successful financial planner but also a workshop speaker, has spent some of her spare time reading from some of the best minds in the self-help game, and some of those ideas make their way here. She’s included an appendix of her favorite books to read, as well as organizational sheets that anyone can handle. It’s all about small steps, not major life-changing shifts here.

The “seven minutes” in question stem from the time it took her, as the clock was ticking at a team-building session, to chart out her purpose and goals in life. Coincidentally, seven minutes is said, according to Lewis, to be the average amount of time a typical executive can stay focused on one task.

Knowing all that, and knowing how to deliver seminars, Lewis treats her book like she’s dealing with that very person whose interest might wane, interspersing interesting details about her own life and stories from experts that break up what could be self-help monotony.

Lewis provides her “Seven Minute Ideas” throughout and the small steps, or what she calls “micro-actions” to accomplish a change. For example, a Seven Minute Idea might be “increasing activity levels at work and home.” Easier said that done for some, but a her micro-action suggestion is “every day, before leaving work, spend seven minutes writing down the top four to seven tasks you need to accomplish during the next work day. Hitting home with me: “You can accomplish more, both at work and at home, if you can create and maintain an organized space.” For a micro-action to get there, she says to spend 15 minutes each day cleaning out a drawer, or devoting 20 minutes on weekends to cleaning up two shelves in the storage room.


Lots of her plans of action call for lists. You may need to think about what you believe your purpose in life to be. You’ll read a lot of the “truisms” you’ve heard before, like believing in yourself. I enjoyed the way Lewis presented them, and they are offered from someone just like the rest of us, not Oprah’s latest hero.

This is much more than simply strategies to maybe earn more money or land a better job. In fact, I’d recommend it to everyone I work with and know. I’d suggest every service-sector company provide it first to the top-level people and then to its employees (I can think of a number of local restaurants I’d send it to). Lewis suggests, in one small change, that we all add a goal of reading 10 pages a night to our routine to enhance our education. You can have this book covered in less than a month, and I promise you’ll be better for it, and inspired to do something.

Lewis is scheduled to sign books at WordsWorth on May 13.