Yesterday, I posted this picture of Matt Perman’s just released book, What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done. I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a while, and now it’s finally arrived (You can read a sample here).
In the preface of the book, Matt lays out 12 myths about productivity that many of us may have unwittingly bought into (13-16). Originally, I thought I’d list these out for you followed by the corresponding truths that Matt explains in his book.
Instead, I thought it would be interesting to quiz yourself and see how God/gospel centered your view of getting things done is. At the end I’ll list the myths and truths in total. Let’s see how you do:
- Productivity is about getting more done faster
- The way to be productive is to have the right techniques and tools
- It is not essential to give consideration to what God has to say about productivity
- It is not essential to make the gospel central in our view of productivity
- The way to be productive is to tightly manage yourself (and others!)
- The aim of time management should be our peace of mind
- The way to succeed is to put yourself first
- We will have peace of mind if we can get everything under control
- To-do lists are enough
- Productivity is best defined by tangible outcomes
- The time we spend working is a good measure of our productivity
- Having to work really hard or even suffer in our work means our priorities are screwed up or we are doing something wrong.
Think you did pretty good? I’m hoping you guessed that #3, #4, and #7 are definitely myths. The truth is though that these are all productivity myths in one way or another. Matt sheds light on this by presenting the corresponding truth for each of the above myths:
- Productivity is about effectiveness first, not efficiency
- Productivity comes first from character, not techniques
- We cannot be truly productive unless all our activity stems from love for God and the acknowledgment that he is sovereign over all our plans
- The only way to be productive is to realize that you don’t have to be productive
- Productivity comes from engagement, not tight control; when we are motivated, we don’t need to tightly control ourselves (or others)
- Productivity is first about doing good for others to the glory of God
- We become most productive by putting others first, not ourselves
- Basing our peace of mind on our ability to control everything will never work
- Time is like space, and we need to see lists as support material for our activity zones, not as sufficient in themselves to keep track of what we have to do
- The greatest evidence of productivity comes from intangibles, not tangibles
- We need to measure productivity by results, not by time spent working
- We will (sometimes) suffer from our work, and it is not sin
If some of these truths seem counter-intuitive, or liberating to the way you approach your daily work, you should probably check out What’s Best Next. You should probably read this post by Matt explaining more about why he wrote the book. If you’re interested in trying to secure a free copy, there are other bloggers offering giveaways, here, here, and here. As always, Justin Taylor has a good write-up too.
Hopefully, I’ll have a fully review of my own by next week. So far, it’s a very beneficial read that I’m hoping will reshape the way I approach juggling my current schedule. I’m definitely tempted to believe that efficiency is more important than it is and that tangible results are most important. I expect to have a better understand of why that’s not the case as I continue reading and applying the wisdom in this book.