You can listen below or at their website.
How can you tell if you are stuck? The following is adapted from the “Unstuck Clinic” at the end of chapter 2 of How to Get Unstuck. It can help you know if you are stuck and, if so, in what areas. (Once you’ve identified that, how do you get unstuck? Well, that’s what the book is for!)
The Unstuck Clinic
Note: Writing down your answers to the questions has been scientifically shown to be more effective than just reading the questions or thinking bout the answers in your head.
What Does it Mean to be Stuck?
We get stuck in our productivity when we don’t know where we should be going, don’t know how to get there, or keep encountering obstacles.
Are You Stuck?
What are the biggest ways you are stuck right now? Take a few minutes to reflect, and write them down.
Taking it Deeper: Diagnostic Questions
To help you think this through further, here are a few diagnostic questions grouped into the three areas where we get stuck in our productivity.
- Are you accomplishing what God wants you to accomplish?
- Do you know what God wants you to accomplish?
- When you accomplish your goals, do you feel they were the right goals?
- Do you feel prepared for each day?
- Are you completing things on time?
- Are you unhurried?
- Are you making progress toward your goals?
- Do you like the approach you have for managing your work?
- Are you able to get from where you are to where you want to be?
- Are you able to accomplish the things that matter most to you?
- How often do you get in the zone in a typical workweek?
- In your work, are you able to do what you do best every day?
Need help getting unstuck? If so, I wrote How to Get Unstuck to help!
How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity released yesterday. Here is the beginning of the intro.
If you’ve ever been stuck, you are in good company. Mark Twain got stuck when writing The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Einstein got stuck when developing the general theory of relativity, and Martin Luther got stuck trying to grasp the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Even the apostle Paul got stuck on his missionary journeys (Acts 27:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:17–18).
We all hate being stuck. But it happens to everyone in various ways—sometimes in big ways and very often in smaller ways. You can even be stuck in multiple ways at once.
You likely are stuck in some way right now. You might feel like you don’t know where you are headed in life, which is certainly one major type of being stuck. Or you might know where you want to go but keep running into obstacles—another way of being stuck.
You might be trying to do something large and important that you just can’t push forward. Or the ride to accomplishing your goals is just plain bumpier than it ought to be because of various “sticking points” in your productivity approach, workplace environment, or time-management tools. You know there are ways to do things more effectively, but you just aren’t sure what they are.
The encouraging and surprising truth is that it’s okay to be stuck. Being stuck can be a mark that you are doing important things, because important things are often hard. And when things are hard, we are likely to get stuck.
Further, God meets us where we are stuck. In fact, it’s when we are stuck that he often meets us most deeply. David often prayed things like,
Rescue me from the mud;
don’t let me sink any deeper!
Save me from those who hate me,
and pull me from these deep waters. (Ps. 69:14 NLT)
Now that’s being stuck.
We’ve all been there, and all is not lost when we are. It’s okay to be stuck. But we don’t want to stay stuck.
None of us enjoys being stuck. And it sometimes puts crucial, important things at risk. There are things we want to do, things we need to do, and things that make a difference in the world that won’t get done if we stay stuck.
The good news is that it is possible to get unstuck and overcome the obstacles to doing great work and getting the right things done. David prayed for deliverance and got unstuck. Paul never became passive, in spite of his many obstacles. Mark Twain finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer after taking a year off to replenish. And Einstein got the help he needed with the math to bring the theory of relativity all the way through to completion. (Yes, Einstein needed help with math! — of a very advanced sort, of course.)
It’s May 1, and that means How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity is now available! Go get your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WTS Books, or your local Christian bookstore.
Like What’s Best Next, this book has been in the works for a long time. I’m excited that it is now available and hope it can enable you individually to be more effective for God’s purposes, with more peace of mind, and to build up the church so we can be collectively more effective as well.
What Will This Book Do For You?
As Christians, there is an important tool that we’ve been overlooking for how to do our work and live our lives in a God-centered way. This is the tool of personal effectiveness, or personal productivity.
There are lots of great secular books on productivity, such as Getting Things Done, and lots of Christians have been finding them helpful. But none of these look at the issue from a biblical perspective. And we need to do that for a few reasons:
- The gospel affects all of life, and productivity is an issue that affects all of us every day, so we need to see how they relate to one another.
- Good productivity practices can be used to amplify our ability to serve God in our work, lives, and the world. We can more effectively use them for that purpose when we look at them within a biblical framework.
- God deserves the credit for all good productivity practices, including the ones from common grace that secular thinkers have been articulating, because he is the source of everything that is true and good. So let’s explicitly give him the credit for these things!
There is now a bit more now on the gospel and productivity than there was a few years ago. But we still need more.
In What’s Best Next, I sought to give an overall system for productivity. In How to Get Unstuck, I focus on helping you overcome obstacles to your productivity. The approach dovetails well with What’s Best Next by going deeper into this specific issue; in doing so, it also includes several principles that I wanted to include in WBN but didn’t have room for. (You can start with either book, as they both stand on their own.)
In How to Get Unstuck, you learn:
- how the urgency addiction is one of the main culprits interfering with our productivity, and how to conquer it
- that being unstuck is ultimately a positive concept, about flourishing and well-being (shalom), and where we see it in the Scriptures
- why character, not first techniques, is central to being productivity and how long-term, fundamental change truly happens
- how our faith and work relate, and why we have often gotten “stuck” in relation to the culture by not understanding this
- what it means to be a true professional in your work, and how to get there through deliberate practice and preparation
- why the key to getting more done is to start in the opposite place you might think: with your time, not your tasks
- how to utilize deep work, the new super power of the knowledge era, to overcome distractions and more than double your productivity
- and much more
So if you want to get more of the right things done, with greater peace and fulfillment, do this through obstacles, and do it for the advancement of God’s purposes in the world, check out How to Get Unstuck.
Here are two endorsements:
Perman’s new book on productivity goes beyond the how of effectiveness to the why: Why do anything well? The answer is found in our theology: Excellence, attention, and care are all ways that we leaders love our God and our neighbors. Drawing on the wisdom of business gurus, neuroscientists, and pastors, Perman has provided a resource for all of us who desire to steward our time, talents, and resources better so that we can live out the gospel more faithfully and fully in the time we’ve been given.
— Katelyn Beaty, former managing editor, Christianity Today, author of A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World
Getting stuck is frustrating, disruptive, and unavoidable. Getting stuck is also not the way it is supposed to be, suggests Matt Perman in his new book, How to Get Unstuck. Gleaning the wisdom from the best of the personal-effectiveness gurus, Perman combines common sense and biblical principles to help you get out of the rut that may have become your new normal. This book will help you joyfully bring more flourishing to the communities God has called you to serve.
— Hugh Whelchel, executive director, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, author of How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work
Here are a few comments from readers so far:
“I had high expectations for this book because of my love for Matt Perman’s previous book, “What’s Best Next”, and I am so very happy that it didn’t disappoint. I am an avid reader with a significant number of professional / business books on my shelf at home and work, and this is one of the few that I intend to re-read on an annual basis.”
“I found What’s Best Next (Perman’s first book) to be super helpful for me, so I was pretty excited to tear into How to Get Unstuck to continue to grow in the area of personal productivity. Good news…I wasn’t let down at all. Perman’s second book builds off the strengths of What’s Best Next, while addressing a struggle all of us encounter in our productivity: getting stuck.”
“Biblical, brilliant, and beautiful.”
Table of Contents and Sample Chapter
I’ll be posting more on Unstuck today and this week. But in the meantime, pick up your copy now!
(How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity is out today! Here is the table of contents. For more details on the book, see the next post.)
Introduction: We All Get Stuck in Some Way
Part 1. The Problem and the Principles: True North
1. How We Get Stuck
2. Flourishing: What it Means to be Unstuck
3. The Unstuck Cycle
4. Recovering Personal Effectiveness as a Force for Good
5. Understanding Urgency and Importance (For Real)
6. Character: The Great Unsticking Force
Part 2. Personal Leadership: The Compass
7. Understand the Power of Vision
8. Be Missional: Understand How Your Faith and Work Relate
9. See Yourself as a Professional (…Sort of)
10. Preparation: Get the Knowledge You Need
Part 3. Personal Management: The Clock
11. Start with Your Time, Not with Your Tasks
12. Set Your Priorities: Make Importance Truly Work
13. Deep Work, Part 1: The New Superpower of Knowledge Work
14. Deep Work, Part 2: Put Deep Work into Your Schedule and Overcome Distractions
15. Renewal: The Power of Preaching to Yourself
Part 4. Special Obstacles: The Laser
16. A Basic Approach to Getting Unstuck from Problems
17. Taking an Adaptive Time Management Approach
18. Building Your Willpower and Growing in Discipline
19. Making Your Workspace Clutter-Free
20. Getting Projects Unstuck
21. Overcoming the Number One Sticking Point for New Leaders
This is an excerpt from How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity, coming May 1. (Pre-order and get 6 bonus chapters and a preview of my next book also.)
How do we break free from the productivity obstacles that get us stuck? First, we need to understand the causes better. At root, we get stuck in our productivity in three chief ways:
- We don’t know what God wants us to do.
- We know what God wants us to do, but we don’t know how to make it happen.
- Obstacles in our way are preventing us from doing it.
We Don’t Know What God Wants Us to Do
Sometimes we aren’t sure what we need to do or want to do at all—with our lives, with our career, with the next project, or even with the next hour. When this happens we may feel disoriented, lacking direction, or just confused (that is, stuck!).
Lack of direction is a very significant—and much overlooked—source of being stuck. For you can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you are going!
The problem here is lack of vision.
We Don’t Know How to Make It Happen
Very often, even when we do know what we need or want to do, we aren’t sure how to do it. We aren’t sure what the path is—or how to chart the path and move along it. This is like being in the water and seeing your destination, but not knowing how to swim. You know where you want to go but can’t move yourself there. This, also, is a much-overlooked cause of being stuck.
Here you can feel trapped stuck in the most literal sense. Stuck in the mud and immobilized. The problem here is lack of planning and execution.
Obstacles Are in Our Way
Beyond that, even when we do start on the path, obstacles threaten to throw us off. These obstacles often take the form of our being overscheduled, overbusy, and overwhelmed. And, interestingly, sometimes fear is an obstacle. One of the biggest obstacles is fear of risk—or even fear of success.
This is the problem of obstacles in the way. We know how to execute and may even be pretty good at it, but our execution has holes. We are more vulnerable to obstacles than we need to be. This is the most recognized cause of getting stuck, and it needs to be addressed. But it can’t be addressed first, because often the obstacles are actually symptoms of being stuck in one of the first two ways.
Summing It Up
We are stuck when we don’t know what we want or can’t accomplish what we want. Not knowing what we want is the problem of lack of vision. Not being able to accomplish what we want breaks down into two subproblems: we don’t know how to execute, and obstacles are in the way.
Lack of vision, lack of execution, and obstacles—those are what get us stuck.
If you pre-order unstuck, you get six bonus chapters plus the first five chapters of my next book after this.
Why do these bonus chapters matter? It’s not just some nice extra content (though that matters). Four of the bonus chapters take you through the process, in detail, on how to develop a vision for your life on the basis of the Scriptures.
This is something I wanted to include in Unstuck, but it didn’t fit. Hence, we are making them available as bonus chapters.
I was able to keep in Unstuck the chapter on the importance of vision. The natural application of this is to then begin developing your vision. That’s what these bonus chapters enable you to do, and so in a sense they “complete” the book.
The most important thing these chapters do in that regard is look at what the Scriptures teach about God’s mission for us. Why did God create us? What is our purpose here? What values does the Scripture say should govern our lives? What is God’s “BHAG,” and what should our life goal be in light of that?
I’ve found it can be hard, and sometimes almost futile, to develop your life mission. Unless you look deeply at what the Scriptures have to say. That’s when it really starts to connect and you are able to develop a satisfying and useful vision that is based on reliable, motivating, and life-giving truth.
So, pre-order unstuck and get those four chapters, as well as several other bonuses, and may the Lord bless your work in refining or developing your life vision!
My second book releases May 1st. I can’t wait! As you’ve seen in previous posts, it’s called How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity.
Instead of waiting until release day to order it, it’s best to pre-order it now. If you do, you’ll get six bonuses chapters that didn’t fit in the book, as well as the first five chapters of my book after this one (yes, that’s already done as well—very glad!).
About the Book
It was my editor’s initial idea to do this book. I got stuck writing my first book, What’s Best Next. But, I figured things out and got it done. Shortly after it released, he said “why don’t you do a book for us on getting unstuck?” I said “that sounds like a great idea.”
In addition to having been stuck before myself (in many ways), this is something all of us have to deal with. Whether we are doing big things like launching a company or fighting global poverty, or so-called everyday things like seeking to excel in our jobs and balance our lives, all of us get stuck sometimes. There are barriers to our productivity, and the ride is often bumpier than we’d like.
My initial strategy to getting stuck was outright perseverance. I just stuck with it. But that’s not the most effective approach. It easily leads to unbalance.
So in this book I apply the principles of personal effectiveness to solve the problem of how we can get unstuck in how we get things done—overcoming the obstacles of busyness, lack of balance, lack of direction, messy workspaces, leadership sticking points, distraction, overloaded task lists, lack of preparation, wrong understandings of “the good life,” plans that don’t work, and much more.
How to Get Unstuck dovetails well with What’s Best Next. First, whereas WBN sought to give a complete productivity system, Unstuck focuses more specifically on overcoming obstacles. So it is a follow-up on a more specific productivity issue. Second, Unstuck brings in principles that are super important but didn’t fit in What’s Best Next or that I wish I could have expanded on in there. Both books stand on their own with unique information and complement one another.
I’m very excited about How to Get Unstuck and hope you enjoy it and that it helps you do God-centered work for the good of others, with less friction and frustration.
Claiming Your Bonuses
Once you order the book, such as at Amazon, go to the book’s website, scroll down, and enter your email and order or receipt number. Then you will be taken to a page where you can download the six bonus chapters and the first five chapters of my next book, Effective in Doing Good.
So, pre-order Unstuck, claim the bonuses, and spread the word!
My next book, How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to Your Productivity, releases May 1.
We are now creating the launch team, and would love to have you be a part of it!
What You’ll Get
As a launch team member, you will receive:
- An advanced reader copy of the book (you will receive a portion of the beginning of the book via email once the team has been selected).
- Access to an exclusive Facebook group for discussion and collaboration (along with several videos and perhaps Facebook Lives that I will do)
- Regular updates via email, including exclusive content, videos, etc.
- Information about upcoming events, interviews, etc.
What You’ll Do
We expect launch team members to:
- Read the book upon receipt
- Discuss & engage with the book’s themes and content via social media
- Leave a review (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, ChristianBook.com, etc.)
- Share about the book with their friends and followers in person or via social media (we’ll equip you with tools to share)
How to Sign Up
Sign up to join the launch team here, and we’ll select 300 applicants!
I have some great news. My second book comes out this April!
Whereas What’s Best Next seeks to give a comprehensive productivity approach, Unstuck focuses on overcoming obstacles — and what you need to do in order to prevent some obstacles from happening in the first place. In doing so, it brings in many principles I didn’t have room for in What’s Best Next (such as urgency and importance) and puts them into the overall framework of personal effectiveness.
I will have much more to say about How to Get Unstuck in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, you can already pre-order it. Pre-orders are now a big deal in helping Amazon and other booksellers anticipate demand, so pre-ordering would be a great way to help get the book off to a great launch!