Here is the last session of the What’s Best Next workshop from last April. In this session I outline the process for managing workflow and getting your email inbox to zero every day.
Here is session 2 from the What’s Best Next workshop I did in April. In session one we looked at the goal of gospel-driven productivity. In this session we look at the guiding principles for accomplishing this goal. And then many more things.
(You can also watch this directly on Vimeo.)
(And, of course, here’s the book at Amazon if you don’t have it already.)
Back in April I did a Saturday morning workshop on What’s Best Next, hosted by Stonebrook Church in Ames, Iowa. Here is session one, where I talk about getting the foundations right for productivity. That means, above all, understanding the purpose of our productivity, which is to do good for others to the glory of God.
(You can also watch it right on Vimeo.)
Stephen asked great questions and the interview was a lot of fun! We talk about how this book is different from other productivity books on the market, why we need to start with God in our definition of productivity, the place of generosity in our productivity, and much more.
This is an absolutely incredible deal. Going on now.
(And, spread the word!)
In my interview today at The Gospel Coalition with Bethany Jenkins on What’s Best Next, I talk about why I wrote the book and how it ties in to productivity books like Getting Things Done and Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Workweek, as well as how it seeks to take books like John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life or David Platt’s Radical a step further.
This is something that is absolutely foundational to why I wrote the book and how I conceive of it, but which I haven’t talked about much in other interviews on the book.
Here’s an excerpt:
Why did you write this book?
[One of my chief reasons] is that I want to reshape the way we think about productivity altogether. Years ago I read Tim Ferriss’ very helpful book The 4-Hour Workweek. His book gives some of the best productivity tips of recent years, but he puts them toward the wrong purpose: minimizing the time you spend working so you can join the “new rich” and live however you want. (Its subtitle is: “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”.)
So I said to myself, “What if, instead of putting productivity within the context of joining the new rich, we put productivity within the context of fulfilling God’s vision for our lives?” That is a much more exciting thing, in my view, than joining the new rich and being able to do whatever you want. That’s why the first few sections of the book are about God’s vision for our lives and why we should care about productivity at all. I seek to show both what that vision is and that it is the most exciting and interesting way to live.
What do you mean by God’s vision for our lives?
God’s vision for our lives is that we glorify him by doing good for others radically, creatively, and abundantly. That’s simply the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We love ourselves creatively and abundantly and, therefore, we are to love others creatively and abundantly as well. The energy and initiative that we put into advancing our own welfare we are to also put into advancing the welfare of others. We are to see our entire lives as avenues for doing good.
You don’t have to run to the hills or escape 9-5 to have a meaningful life. You can have the highest possible significance in your work right now — whatever you are doing — if you do it for the good of others and glory of God.
At the end of What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, I give a summary of the book in 500 words so that people can easily take away the core concept and a few key practices (and share them with others).
Here it is:
Gospel-Driven Productivity in a Nutshell
We need to look to God to define for us what productivity is, not simply the ambiguous concept of “what matters most.” For God is what matters most.
When we do this, we don’t enter a realm of spiritual weirdness, as we might fear. Good secular thinking remains relevant as a gift of God’s common grace. Neither do we enter a realm of over-spiritualization where the things we do every day don’t matter.
Instead, the things we do every day take on even greater significance because they are avenues through which we serve God and others. In fact, the gospel teaches us that the good of others is to be the main motive in all that we do and the chief criteria by which we determine “what’s best next.” This is not only right, but also the best way to be productive, as the best business thinkers are showing. More importantly, when we do this in God’s power and as an offering to him, he is glorified and shown to be great in the world.
In order to be most effective in this way in our current era of massive overload yet incredible opportunity, we need to do four things to stay on track and lead and manage our lives effectively:
The result of this is not only our own increased peace of mind and ability to get things done, but also the transformation of the world by the gospel because it is precisely in our everyday vocations that we take our faith into the world and the light of the gospel shines—both in what we say and in what we do (Matthew 5:16).
If You Only take 5 Productivity Practices Away from This Book
Learning and especially implementing productivity practices can be hard. It is easy to forget what we learned or forget how to apply it. One remedy is to keep coming back to this book (of course!). But to make this as simple as possible, if you can only take away 5 things from this book, they should be these:
- Foundation: Look to God, in Jesus Christ, for your purpose, security, and guidance in all of life.
- Purpose: Give your whole self to God (Romans 12:1-2), and then live for the good of others to his glory to show that he is great in the world.
- Guiding Principle: Love your neighbor as yourself. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. Be proactive in this and even make plans to do good.
- Core Strategy: Know what’s most important and put it first.
- Core Tactic: Plan your week, every week! Then, as things come up throughout the day, ask “is this what’s best next?” Then, either do that right away or, if you can’t, slot it in to your calendar or action list that you are confident you will refer back to at the right time.
I have two case lots of What’s Best Next that I’m selling at 50% off, which is $10 per book (plus shipping). There are 24 books in a case. This is a great way to get a set of books for the staff at your church, business, or non-profit, or just to give away.
You can purchase them through the interface I set up at Square Market, and I’ll get them sent right out.
Lots of time management books talk about the importance of values. But that’s not enough, because you can value the wrong things.
My answer — and the answer of the book — is that the ultimate way to get the right things done is to value what God values, and act in accordance with that. This leads us to the counterintuitive notion that love and generosity — not efficiency — are actually the ways to be most productive.