Here’s a good idea for today or tomorrow, if you haven’t already: Do a yearly review.
The yearly review can be very simple and consist of just two parts. I’d create a heading on the page for each part.
Reflect on the Prior Year
First, look back at the last year. I think David Allen captures this process best when he says to simply write down, in the order that they come to mind and without feeling the need to organize or categorize things, the most notable accomplishments, events, and other points of interest from the year. To be “notable,” the item doesn’t necessarily have to be large; rather, it just means anything worth noting, to you.
Some of my items include: “South Africa,” “Submitted book proposal,” “delegate at Lausanne,” “almost spilled water on the former deputy prime minister of Australia,” “finished a large organizational design project (not without its challenges),” “productivity presentations in DC and at the DG conference,” “Kate started kindergarten,” and “Joseph started to walk.”
Define A Few Priorities for the Coming Year
Second, look ahead to the next year. Reflect a bit on your overall priorities and the general environment for the next year — major upcoming events in the year, current stuff on your plate, and stuff you really want to accomplish in the next year. Then, just list the top 3-5 primary things you want to accomplish this year (making sure you are identifying things that are truly important).
These 3-5 things should be “big rocks” for the year, rather than smaller stuff. In a sense, these are your goals for the year. Maybe you will change them as you get into the year a bit and more clarity comes about what is most important, and obviously you will be doing many other things as well, but it is a good thing to start the year with major priorities in place specific to the year.
Optional: Review Your Mistakes (but do it right)
When reviewing the prior year, you could review your mistakes. In one sense this may seem contrary to my prior post on forgetting what lies behind. So the first thing to say here is, if you do this, don’t dwell on them. Ponder them briefly to learn from them, then move on.
Which leads to the second point and the reason I mention this: It is a good practice to learn from your mistakes, but most people do it wrong. As Marcus Buckingham points out, most of us have a default assumption that excellence is the opposite of failure. So, in order to improve, we think we should look at what went wrong (either in your life or the experiences of others) and do the opposite.
But that’s wrong. Excellence is not the opposite of failure; they are just different. In fact, as Buckingham points out, excellence and failure are often remarkably similar. For example, in one of his books he talks about how unsuccessful salespeople often suffer from call reluctance. So one might conclude that excellent salespeople do not and say, “if you want to be an excellent salesperson, you better not feel high reluctance to making calls.”
But that would be wrong. Many excellent salespeople do suffer from call reluctance. But the difference is that they have an additional factor, namely the talent of “confrontation,” that presses them to push beyond that reluctance and make the calls anyway.
So the way to learn from things that went wrong is not necessarily to look at what you did and invert it. There may be some of that, of course, but don’t primarily look in that direction or dwell there. You may have actually done most things right, or in accord with what would make for excellent performance, and lacked something — perhaps even something small.
So when there is an area that you want to improve, the main thing to do, as Chip and Dan Heath discuss in Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, is not identify what weaknesses you need to overcome but rather what bright spots you need to build on. Identify what went well and focus most of your energy there.
So, reviewing your mistakes may identify some things you need to improve and do differently. But most of all, when there is an area that you want to improve, seek primarily to identify bright spots and identify ways to build on those. And do this quickly and don’t beat yourself on. Make the changes you need to make (and correct anything you might need to correct) and move on.
Making it Happen: How Do You Keep Your Priorities in Mind?
There is one last thing to address here: Once you’ve identified your priorities for the year, how do you remember them in such a way that they really guide your actions?
This is important, because the reason most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions — or, alternatively, accomplish their goals — is that they don’t translate them into their schedule.
So, here are two ideas for accomplishing your priorities.
First, it can be helpful to identify one or two recurring practices or tasks that will move them along. For example, if one of your priorities is to learn about leadership next year, identify a recurring time that you read each day (perhaps before bed, or early in the morning, or whenever). Then stick to it, and put it in your calendar if you have to.
Second, review your priorities for the year as part of your weekly review. That way, each week they will be fresh on your radar and you can design your upcoming week in light of them.
I think New Year’s resolutions are a good thing (as well as resolutions in general–see 2 Thessalonians 1:11; though keep in mind why most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions). But there is something better than resolutions and prior to resolutions.
David Mathis captures this in a post at the DG blog from last year, where he recommends starting the year with reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression and then something better than resolutions.
Regarding Lloyd-Jones book, Mathis notes: “the title can be a tad deceiving. It’s not merely a book for those with a pronounced sense of spiritual depression. It’s a book for all Christians — for the daily spiritual depressions we all face this side of heaven.”
So the book is worth your read whether you are facing a pronounced sense of spiritual depression or simply the more general spiritual depressions faced by all.
Now, what is better than resolutions and the ultimate basis for any resolutions you do make? Mathis quotes Lloyd-Jones:
Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’. That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say:
I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone. (35)
This sounds like Paul: “Forgetting what lies behind [that's Lloyd-Jones' point] and straining forward to what lies ahead [there's the place for resolutions], I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus ” (Philippians 3:13-14).
So, forget what lies behind, and then press on toward the goal. And any resolutions you make, make in the recognition that you are accepted and forgiven by God in Christ apart from any resolutions, and then seek to fulfill them in the power that God supplies (Colossians 1:29).
Seth Godin recounts a painful experience filling out a form on the Jet Blue website. Here’s the key point:
The problem with letting your web forms become annoying is that in terms of time spent interacting with your brand, they’re way up on the list. If someone is spending a minute or two or three or four cursing you out from their desk, it’s not going to be easily fixed with some clever advertising.
In other words: Take some of that money you might have spent on advertising (print or online) and make your website more usable. That treats your customers or constituents better and will have more impact because giving your customers a good experience builds your brand far more effectively than any ad could.
Get a Clocky, the alarm clock that runs away from you:
Can’t wake up? You’re not alone. Stats show that 40% of people ‘abuse’ the snooze. Typical alarm clocks just don’t work well. Ours never lets you oversleep again. Clocky runs away and hides if you don’t get out of bed. When the alarm sounds, Clocky will wait for you to get up. But if you snooze, Clocky will jump off of your nightstand (from 3 feet), and run around your room, determined to get you up on time. Clocky’s hip, innovative and charming. What could be better to wake up next to?
Tullian Tchividjian, from his post “Does the Gospel Scare You?”:
So, it’s a mistake to identify the “two cliffs” as being legalism and lawlessness. The one “cliff” is legalism but it comes in two forms—what some call license is just another form of legalism. And if people outside the church are guilty of “break the rules” legalism, many people inside the church are still guilty of “keep the rules” legalism.
This is super important because the biggest lie about grace that Satan wants the church to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be “kept it in check.” By believing this we not only prove we don’t understand grace, but we violate gospel advancement in our lives and in the church. A “yes, grace…but” disposition is the kind of fearful posture that keeps moralism swirling around in our hearts and in the church.
I understand the fear of grace. As a pastor, one of my responsibilities is to disciple people into a deeper understanding of obedience—teaching them to say “no” to the things God hates and “yes” to the things God loves. But all too often I have (wrongly) concluded that the only way to keep licentious people in line is to give them more rules. The fact is, however, that the only way licentious people start to obey is when they get a taste of God’s radical unconditional acceptance of sinners.
The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience, but Christ’s.
The people who actually end up performing better are those who understand that their relationship with God doesn’t depend on their performance for Jesus, but Jesus’ performance for us.
People need to hear less about what we need to do for God and more about all that God has already done for us, because imperatives minus indicatives equal impossibilities. If you’re a preacher and you’re assuming that people understand the radical nature of gospel indicatives, so your ministry is focused primarily on gospel imperatives, you’re making a huge mistake. A huge mistake!
Long-term, sustained, gospel-motivated obedience can only come from faith in what Jesus has already done, not fear of what we must do. To paraphrase Ray Ortlund, any obedience not grounded in or motivated by the gospel is unsustainable. No matter how hard you try, how “radical” you get, any engine smaller than the gospel that you’re depending on for power to obey will conk out in due time.
So let’s take it up a notch. Don’t be afraid to preach the radical nature of the gospel of grace. For, as the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, “If your preaching of the gospel doesn’t provoke the charge from some of antinomianism, you’re not preaching the gospel.”
Read the whole thing.
At the DG blog, Tyler Kenney gives some good reflections for the end of the year from a Piper sermon. He writes:
The last week of the year is a good time—with God’s help—to reflect on the past 12 months, do a little self-assessment, and decide what things to repent of and reach for in the next lap around the sun.
At the end of his first year as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, John Piper led his people in doing this through his sermon “I Have Kept the Faith.”
Below is the conclusion of that sermon. Just plug in “2010″ and “2011″ where you read “1980″ and “1981,” and the content is still relevant 30 years later.
This is a helpful post at GTD Times on organizing your reading material. It doesn’t discuss books, but gives some good tips on keeping up with the reports, articles, and all the other things that come your way (both digitally and paper-based).
(HT: Productivity Hacks)
Calvin (from the Institutes, Book III, chapter XVII.10):
A work begins to be acceptable only when it is undertaken with pardon. Now whence does this pardon arise, save that God contemplates us and our all in Christ? Therefore, as we ourselves, when we have been engrafted in Christ, are righteous in God’s sight because our iniquities are covered by Christ’s sinlessnes, so our works are righteous and are thus regarded because whatever fault is otherwise in them is buried in Christ’s purity, and is not charged to our account. Accordingly, we can deservedly say that by faith alone not only we ourselves but our works as well are justified. Now if this works righteousness — whatever its character — depends upon faith and free justification and is effected by this, it ought to be included under faith and be subordinated to it, so to speak, as effect to cause, so far is it from having any right to be raised up either to destroy or becloud justification by faith.”
From Seth Godin’s article for Catlyst Monthly, The Spectacle, the Shouter, and the Door to Door Salesman:
For far too long, leadership has been about management and management has been about control.
We push those that follow us to fit in, to do as they are told. We decide who is good enough, who is obedient enough, who is acceptable.
Many institutions have been built by strong-willed men who think they have the right answer, and aren’t afraid to be bullies if it helps them achieve their goals.
A post I wrote for the DG blog today.
Here’s what I recently wrote for The Gospel Coalition blog on that question. Justin Taylor and I also wrote an article on plagiarism several years ago for the DG site after some people wrote in about their pastor, I think it was, preaching someone else’s sermons as his own.
Good advice from Seth Godin:
Go to work on a regular basis.
Art is hard. Selling is hard. Writing is hard. Making a difference is hard.
When you’re doing hard work, getting rejected, failing, working it out–this is a dumb time to make a situational decision about whether it’s time for a nap or a day off or a coffee break.
Zig taught me this twenty years ago. Make your schedule before you start. Don’t allow setbacks or blocks or anxiety to push you to say, “hey, maybe I should check my email for a while, or you know, I could use a nap.” If you do that, the lizard brain is quickly trained to use that escape hatch again and again.
Isaac Asimov wrote and published 400 (!) books using this technique.
The first five years of my solo business, when the struggle seemed neverending, I never missed a day, never took a nap. (I also committed to ending the day at a certain time and not working on the weekends. It cuts both ways.)
Stephen Covey notes that:
In the field of personal development, one of the few things that can be empirically validated is that individuals and organizations that set goals accomplish more. The reality is that people who know how to set and achieve goals generally accomplish what they set out to do.
But, don’t take it as a whole-sale endorsement on setting goals. Covey goes on to note the weaknesses of this approach:
There are countless people who use the Goal Approach to climb the ladder of success — only to discover it’s been leaning against the wrong wall.
They set goals and focus powerful effort to achieve them. But when they get what they wanted, they find it doesn’t bring the results they expected. Life seems empty, anticlimatctic. “Is that all there is?”
When goals are not based on principles and primary needs, the focused drive and single-mindedness that makes achievement possible can blind people to imbalance in their lives. They may have their six- or seven-figure income, but they’re living with the deep pain of multiple divorces and children who won’t even talk to them. They may have a glamorous public image, but an empty private life. They have the plaudits of the world, but no rich, satisfying relationships, no deep inner sense of integrity.
It is important to have goals. But there is also a danger in having goals. What’s the solution?
One part of the solution is to have the right goals. Another part of the solution is to not let your life be _entirely_ directed by goals.
You see a good example of this in the life of the apostle Paul. He had an overarching goal — a mission — that was right. Here’s one statement of it (there are others as well):
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11).
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14).
Paul’s overarching mission here is an example of a goal, an ultimate goal, that should cover our entire lives and for which we should sacrifice greatly for. And he commends the same goal to each of us: “Let those of us who are mature think this way” (v. 15).
Paul also had some lower-altitude goals that aligned with this. For example, he really desired to visit the church in Rome:
“. . . without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” (Romans 1:9-10)
But this was not an all-defining goal, because other things took precedence and prevented him from coming (see Romans 15:18-24–very interesting: what kept him from coming was another goal). Paul had other goals like this as well — things he really wanted to do, but which he sought to do in an integrated way with all the other callings that God had placed before him.
What we see in Paul is a good example of goals working in the right way. He had the right overall goal, or aim, in life. He pursued that goal at all costs — and, because it was the right goal that God would have for him (and us), that did not result in unloving, unbibiblically unbalanced (note: the term “unbiblical” is a critical nuance there) life.
Then, underneath that, he had many lower-altitude goals that aligned with it, and which he pursued with great diligence, but which he didn’t pursue at all costs and without the wider awareness of other things, apart from those goals, that God might want to do in his life.
This is significant, from Drucker in his book The Effective Executive:
[The practices of effectiveness] are not “inborn.” In forty-five years of work as a consultant with a large number of executives in a wide variety of organizations — large and small; businesses, government agencies, labor unions, hospitals, universities, community services; American, European, Latin American and Japanese — I have never come across a single “natural”: an executive who was born effective. [emphasis added]
Did you catch that? Drucker wrote those words toward the latter part of his long career. He had been doing consulting work for forty-five years. He had consulted with executives in all types of organizations — all types. And he had consulted all over the world — all over the world. And he never came across a single natural. Never.
So we probably shouldn’t think of ourselves as naturals, either. And we shouldn’t be too hard on others we know and encounter that aren’t “naturals.”
Instead, we need to realize that if we are to become effective and increase in effectiveness, it comes through learning, effort, and practice. Which is what Drucker goes on to say:
All the effective ones had to learn to be effective. And all of them had to practice effectiveness until it became a habit.
And here is an encouraging word on that:
All the ones who worked on making themselves effective executives succeeded in doing so. Effectiveness can be learned — and it also has to be learned.
Even though they are primarily writing for those in their teens, Alex and Brett Harris have good counsel everyone in Do Hard Things. Here’s one helpful piece:
- Do what’s hard for you.
- Be known for what you do (more than for what you don’t).
- Pursue excellence, not excuses.
Last February I broke my nose in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It’s a funny story that maybe I will tell sometime. Tomorrow I have to go in for surgery to get it fixed. (Complicated insurance reasons are driving me to get it done before the end of the year!)
They knock you out entirely for this surgery, which in one sense I am glad about. (But, in another sense, I’m not looking forward to it because it means you are having things done to you over which you will be entirely helpless about yourself!).
The surgery is not a huge deal (and all the damage is on the inside — you can’t tell by looking at it that it was broke), and I’ve talked to a lot of people who have had this done. But in light of being knocked out entirely, there are two doctrines, or truths about God, that particularly come to mind and which I will be relying on as I go under.
1. The Doctrine of Vocation
I don’t know if the doctor who will be performing the surgery is a believer or not, and he doesn’t have to be in order to be a good and effective doctor. And that’s because of the doctrine of vocation.
The doctrine of vocation teaches us that when each of us are operating in our vocations, it is ultimately God who is at work. God is “hidden” in vocation — including those of non-Christians.
Gene Veith does the best so far of articulating this doctrine for us today (see his excellent book God at Work). Veith points out that the doctrine of vocation is why, in the Lord’s Prayer for example, we can pray “give us this day our daily bread” even though the bread comes to us through the work of a thousand different people (the farmer who planted the seeds and harvested the wheat, the people that used the wheat to make the bread, the people that designed the company’s process for making the bread, the people that built the machines used in making the bread, the marketing department that enables people to know about the bread, the truck drivers that delivered the bread to the grocery store, the stock people who stock the shelves with the bread, and so forth).
The reason we pray to God to give us our daily bread, even though it comes through the actions of humans, is because God is at work through each person’s vocation to serve us and his creation.
As Veith puts it:
Though he could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did for the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve one another. This is the doctrine of vocation.
Luther goes so far as to say that vocation is a mask of God. That is, God hides Himself in the workplace, the family, the Church, and the seemingly secular society. To speak of God being hidden is a way of describing His presence, as when a child hiding in the room is there, just not seen. To realize that the mundane activities that take up most of our lives. . . are hiding-places for God can be a revelation in itself.
As it is with our daily bread, so also it is with this surgery: ultimately it is not the doctor at work to produce this outcome of a repaired nose, but God. The doctrine of vocation enables me to acknowledge and even admire what the doctor is able to do, while ultimately looking up to God as the one who is himself bringing this about and fixing my nose. (I only wish he wanted to do this one through a miracle!)
We might normally think, “If God is going to fix my nose, then a fixed nose will miraculously appear.” But no. The doctrine of vocation teaches us that tomorrow, when the surgeon repairs my nose, that itself is God giving me the gift of a fixed nose. God is fixing my nose tomorrow — not through a miracle or instant fix, but through the work of the surgeon. And the outcome will be just as much from God as if He had done it directly.
This gives both comfort and significance to the experience of something like surgery, let alone all the other things that we do and experience in our daily lives. As Veith goes on to say:
Most people seek God in mystical experiences, spectacular miracles, and extraordinary acts they have to do. [But] to find Him in vocation brings Him, literally, down to earth, makes us see how close He really is to us, and transfigures everyday life.
2. God’s Providence for Believers
The doctrine of vocation is obviously very related to the doctrine of providence. When it comes to providence, there are two main types that theologians distinguish: God’s general providence, which is his governance and care over all creation, and God’s special providence in redemptive history, such as his special work to preserve the Scriptures and lead the church to recognize the correct books of the canon.
There’s also a third category worth thinking of, which is simply God’s providence over his church and the lives of believers. I think it is warranted to think of this distinct from God’s general providence over creation because of all the promises that he makes to his people. Things such as:
God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. (Matthew 6:31-32)
And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. (Ephesians 1:22 — in other words, Jesus rules all things for the sake of the church)
Now here’s what I find very remarkable in this experience. In many ways, we are able to attend to our more immediate needs. Or, more accurately, God meets these needs through our actions. When we are hungry, we can go get some food. If a driver seems to be coming into our lane, we slow down or move over. If a baseball is flying right at our head, we can knock it down or move. We are able, to a certain degree, to work and do stuff to provide for our needs and safety.
But tomorrow when I go under the anesthesia for the nose surgery, apparently I won’t even be able to breathe for myself unaided (they have to put a tube in). I will go from having some role and involvement in the meeting of my needs to none.
That feels strange. As I look ahead to this, because of his providence and care, what stands out to me is that God will be watching over me in this time. It’s not that he isn’t just as much watching over us when we are awake and have all of our abilities. But there is something unique about the fact that my involvement in the process will be gone. I will be trusting him to keep watch over me and do so entirely independent of me. I will have to stop taking care of myself for a time, and trust that God will do so now not just partly through my actions, but now entirely apart from them.
I know the surgeon will do a great job. But, because of the doctrine of vocation and doctrine of providence, my ultimate trust is not in the surgeon or medical knowledge, but in God working in and through and, in some sense, above those things.
I know this is just nose surgery, they do this all the time, and it’s really simple to think of going under, and then waking up on the other side in the recovery room. But we shouldn’t take God’s provision in these things for granted, any more than we should take his more everyday provisions for granted. We should be thinking about and consciously grateful for God’s provision in all areas of our lives at all times; and having to go through the unpleasant experience of something like nose surgery is, to me at least, a good reminder of this.
Perhaps an even more telling gauge of our self-righteousness is the stance from which we offer our forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Is our forgiveness offered from a pedestal?
When sinned against, it is easy to occupy a superior position, extending forgiveness like a benevolent dictator to those who demonstrate their sincere repentance. Our stance is top down; our demeanor is paternalistic; our attitude is self-righteous.
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus contrasted true piety with people-pleasing religiosity. Speaking about prayer, Jesus delivered a stern warning about forgiveness. Forgiveness, he said, is a natural and necessary fruit of our having been forgiven by God. We must forgive those who sin against us, not like benevolent dictators from the top down but rather as fellow sinners from the bottom up.
3 Basic Laws of Idea Generation and Human Nature, and Why It’s Bad to Make Employees Sit at Their Desks for a Defined Period
Excellent, from Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality:
As you develop some norms and expectations for your team’s work flow, try to elevate true productivity over the appearance of hard work.
Managers instinctively measure work ethic with an eye on the clock. Measuring work by time spent working is seductive, because it’s easy and objective. But doing so defies the realities of the creative work flow and will ultimately damage morale.
In reality, ideas are made to happen in spurts.
The pressure of being required to sit at your desk until a certain time creates a factory-like culture that ignores a few basic laws of idea generation and human nature:
- When the brain is tired, it doesn’t work well.
- Idea generation happens on its own terms.
- When you feel forced to execute beyond your capacity, you begin to hate what you are doing.
Rather than focusing on face time, creative teams should embrace transparency and strive to build a fundamental trust between colleagues. As leaders, we must create rules and norms for the sake of efficiency rather than as a result of mistrust. We should measure tangible outputs like actions taken and quality of outcomes.
Which leads to the concept of a “results only work environment” — where “employees are compensated based on their achievement of specified goals rather than on the number of hours worked. The ultimate goal is to empower employees to make their own decisions about when and where they work as long as mutually agreed-upon goals are achieved. This means that bosses stop watching employee calendars and paying attention to when people arrive and leave the office.”
For more on the idea of a results only work environment, see the ROWE Blog and the book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It (which I wish had a different title, but oh well), both of which are by the two former Best Buy employees who pioneered this approach at Best Buy (seeing productivity go up something like 35% in some departments) and are helping spread it to more and more companies.
From David Allen’s latest newsletter (which you can subscribe to here):
It’s time to purge.
The end of a year and start of the new is a great metaphorical event you can use to enhance a critical aspect of your constructive creativity—get rid of everything that you can.
Your psyche has a certain quota of open loops and incompletions that it can tolerate, and it will unconsciously block the engagement with new material if it has reached its limit. Release some memory.
Want more business? Get rid of all the old energy in the business you’ve done. Are there any open loops left with any of your clients? Any agreements or disagreements that have not been completed or resolved? Any agendas and communications that need to be expressed? Clean the slate.
Want more clothes? Go through your closets and storage areas and cart to your local donation center everything that you haven’t worn in the last 24 months. And anything that doesn’t feel or look just right when you wear it.
Want to be freer to go where you want to, when you want to, with new transportation? Clean out your glove compartments and trunks of your cars. And for heaven’s sake, get those little things fixed on your car or bicycle or motorbike that have been bugging you. . . .
You will have to do all this anyway, sometime. Right now don’t worry about the new. It’s coming toward you at lightning speed, no matter what. Just get the decks clear so you’re really ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Users will be able to buy books through books.google.com/ebooks and read them on many devices, including tablets, computers, smartphones and open format e-readers. Google on Monday released e-book buying and reading apps for Apple’s iPhone, iTouch and iPad as well as Android mobile devices.
Customers will be able to store their Google-purchased titles online on their own bookshelf accessible via their Google account. They will be able to start reading e-books on one device or computer and switch midway through the book to other devices without losing their spot, Google engineers said.
A very good illustration from Hans Rosling of economic progress over the last 200 years.
Wow. Good news. From the Daily Caller:
President Obama and congressional Republicans have reached a tentative deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income levels and are presenting the proposal to congressional Democrats Monday afternoon, The Daily Caller has learned.
The deal will extend the current tax levels for two more years, preventing taxes from going up on any income levels, despite the wishes of many liberal Democrats — including Obama — that individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families with more than $250,000 a year in income see their rates go up.
In exchange, Republicans have agreed to extend unemployment insurance benefits for an additional 13 months
I agree that the ESV Bible Atlas is a fantastic resource. Here’s more information from the Crossway website (where you can also see the first 38 or so pages of the Atlas online for free–just scroll to the bottom of the page):
Capitalizing on recent advances in satellite imaging and geographic information systems, the Crossway ESV Bible Atlas offers Bible readers a comprehensive, up-to-date resource that blends technical sophistication with readability, visual appeal, and historical and biblical accuracy.
All the key methods of presenting Bible geography and history are here, including more than 175 full-color maps, 70 photographs, 3-D re-creations of biblical objects and sites, indexes, timelines, and 65,000 words of narrative description. The atlas uniquely features regional maps detailing biblically significant areas such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Italy, and Greece. It also includes a CD with searchable indexes and digital maps, and a removable, 16.5 x 22-inch map of Palestine.
This carefully crafted reference tool not only sets a new standard in Bible atlases but will help ESV readers more clearly understand the world of the Bible and the meaning of Scripture.
“A remarkably beautiful and rich resource for historical, geographical, and archaeological background material that will deepen our understanding of each section of the Bible and increase our appreciation of the Bible’s amazing historical accuracy.”
-Wayne Grudem , Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, Arizona“This Atlas is a wonderfully illustrated tool to aid the layperson, student of the Scripture, or pastor who wants to dig deeper and gain new insights and appreciation of the setting, context, and message of the Bible. The text is easy to follow, pictures are brilliant, and maps are incredibly useful as the reader moves through the related narratives. I highly recommend this marvelous resource.”
-James K. Hoffmeier , Professor of Old Testament & Near Eastern Archaeology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
The article below is fantastic, and is the exact tension in my life.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want to only do hard thinking and writing, but neither would I only want to execute and make things happen. The problem is that seeking to do both creates a tension. These things can fight against one another when it comes to making time for both.
That’s why Cal Newport’s article, How to Fit Hard Thinking into a Busy Schedule, is so helpful. It addresses how to resolve this tension for those of us who are not called to go exclusively in one direction or the other.
Here’s the first part:
It started a few weeks ago. I had to write an academic research statement: a high stakes, ambiguous, beast of a creative project. For the first week, I kept telling myself, “this is my most important priority,” and hacked away at the project whenever I got a chance. I continuously felt guilty about not spending enough time writing. One night, toward the end of the week, I holed up in my office until 9 pm, desperate to get things done.The result was near useless. I had 15 pages of rambling text (a research statement should be 3-5 pages, at most), and still had more to cover. The message was confused and drowning in adjectives.
This situation is common for to-do list creatives – workers who have the juggle creative work – like writing or devising strategy – with logistical work – like prompt email replies and meetings. I’m a to-do list creative: as a theoretical computer scientist, I must switch between solving mathematical proofs – one of the most purely creative endeavors – and the logistics of reviewing papers and meeting with grant managers. To keep things interesting, I also sometimes write.
Here’s our quandary: To-do list creatives advance in their careers based on the quality of their creative output. Our logistical responsibilities, however, fight against this goal. Most to-do list creatives cannot drop everything to spend days lost in monk-like focus. But the result of instead squeezing creative work into distracted bursts, driven by deadline pressure, is mediocrity. (Exhibit A: the first draft of my research statement).
That distinction between “creative work” and “logistical work” is incredibly enlightening. And so is his point (later in the article) that creative work simply does not work well on a to-do list. He presents, in my opinion, a much better solution which helps keep logistical responsibilities from fighting against creative work.