In our fast-paced, get-it-done-now culture, the fact is that almost everyone on your team could use some help in increasing their personal productivity. This pace has only been accelerating because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes in our lives.
The very nature of ministry often makes the “I’ve gotten something done today” feeling elusive. For many church leaders, there are no edges to their work – it’s not easy to tell when the work is finished, because it really never is. Most of your team have at least half a dozen things they are trying to achieve right now – today! And a pastoral need could arise at any moment to make that to-do list completely irrelevant.
Is it possible that our productivity could actually be increased by first slowing down?
THE QUICK SUMMARY – What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman
Do work that matters.
Productivity isn’t just about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done–the things that count, make a difference, and move the world forward. In our current era of massive overload, this is harder than ever before. So how do you get more of the right things done without confusing mere activity for actual productivity?
When we take God’s purposes into account, a revolutionary insight emerges. Surprisingly, we see that the way to be productive is to put others first–to make the welfare of other people our motive and criteria in determining what to do (what’s best next). As both the Scriptures and the best business thinkers show, generosity is the key to unlocking our productivity. It is also the key to finding meaning and fulfillment in our work.
By anchoring your understanding of productivity in God’s purposes and plan, What’s Best Next will give you a practical approach for increasing your effectiveness in everything you do. This expanded edition includes a new chapter on productivity in a fallen world and a new appendix on being more productive with work that requires creative thinking.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
Jocelyn Glei describes the concept of “reactionary workflow” as follows: “Through our constant connectivity to each other, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us.”
According to this line of thought, being informed and constantly updated becomes a disadvantage when the deluge of information coming in supplants your space to think and act.
Cal Newport takes this concept further, writing about a “deep reset.” Already in existence, but exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing a severe dislocation to much of what they’ve come to trust and to expect.
What is the best response to this “severe dislocation”?
The essence of a Gospel Driven Life is this: We are to use all that we have, in all areas of life, for the good of others, to the glory of God – and that this is the most exciting life.Matt Perman
To be a gospel-driven Christian means to be on the lookout to do good for others to the glory of God, in all areas of life, and to do this with creativity and competence. Further, being gospel-driven also means knowing how to get things done so that we can serve others in a way that really helps, in all areas of life, without making ourselves miserable in the process through overload, overwhelm, and hard-to-keep-up systems.
There are four steps for leading and managing yourself for effectiveness: define, architect, reduce, and execute.
This means not only knowing where you are going, but also knowing your criteria for deciding that altogether. This is not just a matter of clarifying your values, It is a matter of identifying the right values to have, and basing outlives – our entire lives, especially right here at the center – on those values that God and His Word lift up as central.
Once you identified the most important principles, goals, and ongoing priorities in your life, you can’t just leave it at that. You have to weave these things into the structure of your life through a basic schedule, or time map, because intentions aren’t enough. The essence of the architecture step can be summarized this way: Structure your life by living your life mainly from a flexible routine, to a set of lists.
After creating this structure, often you’ll find that making everyone fit is the biggest obstacle. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve archived wrong; it just means you need to reduce. But you don’t get rid of the rest by simply letting balls drop. Rather, you do it by creating systems and using tactics that ultimately expand your capacity. The essence of reducing can be summarized this way: Reduce not the basis of what’s most important, not on the basis of living a minimalistic life, and do this by implementing systems that enable you to ultimately expand your capacity overall.
This is the stage of making things happen in the moment. It is easy to think of execution as synonymous with productivity, but in reality it is actually only the last step. Execution is about living out our priorities every day, on a moment-by-moment basis. Plan your week, manage your workflow, and make your projects and actions happen – along with navigating your day in the moment.
Conveniently, these steps form the acronym DARE. We should be radical and risky and creative and abundant in using our effectiveness to make life better for others.
A NEXT STEP
In the author’s words, will you DARE to let the gospel transform the way you get things done? Here are some of his ideas:
- Develop a mission statement for your life that actually works
- Define your roles and keep track of them
- Create a good weekly schedule
- Set up the right routines
- Learn how to handle interruptions
- Overcome procrastination
- Plan your week in a few simple steps
- Create simple project plans
Even by just reading the above list, you will be able to improve your productivity. For deeper dives into each of the areas listed, as well as additional helps, be sure to check out these additional author’s resources.
Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader
During my elementary school years, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of My Weekly Reader, a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.
It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.
Along with early and ongoing encouragement from my parents – especially my father – reading was established as a passion in my life that I was happy to continually learn from, share with my children, and watch them share with their children.
Reading keeps our minds alive and growing.