Fascinating! From the Washington Post.
And it’s collected into a nice chart for easy comparison:
Fascinating! From the Washington Post.
And it’s collected into a nice chart for easy comparison:
A quick tip from How to Get Unstuck.
This is one of the simplest and most powerful time management principles there is. Yet, it is also takes a lot of discipline, because it’s the opposite of what we naturally want to do!
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:
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:
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
Unstuck releases Tuesday!
Most people tend to wait to purchase a book until it actually releases — which makes a lot of sense!
But there are two reasons to pre-order it now, in advance of launch.
1. To ensure you get your copy next week
When What’s Best Next came out, Amazon and other bookstores ran out within two days. Zondervan did a quick reprint, but it took about another week for those books to get into stock. By pre-ordering, you’ll ensure you get the book on the release date.
2. You get the bonuses by pre-ordering
The bonuses include 4 additional chapters on how to create your mission on a God-centered foundation that I wanted to include in the book, but which didn’t fit. These chapters go into much more detail than the chapter on mission in What’s Best Next and represent some of my most foundational thinking on the subject. I think you will find them very helpful.
Life planning and mission statements are more popular than ever now; yet, I don’t know of anything that goes into the detail on how to be truly God-centered in our mission and life plan like these chapters. Many of the current books and resources on life planning give a helpful framework, but do not explicitly show how God’s purposes relate to, define, and ought to inform our life plans.
I take all the great recent works on the mission of God, being missional, faith and work integration, the creation mandate, exilic discipleship, the holistic plot line of Scripture, and more, and show how it comes together to help us understand and create our own mission and life plan.
How often has someone emailed you requesting prayer while they are on a missions trip? Or for a period of time over the next week or so that will be especially stressful?
This is exactly what people should be doing, and it is a privilege to pray with them.
But the productivity challenge is this: how do you remember to keep praying for them?
So often we say we will be praying, but then forget.
It’s easy, of course, to pray for them when you first receive the email that they will be going on the mission trip. In my case, a friend just emailed that he would be teaching overseas on certain dates, and requested prayer through that time. So I prayed for him upon receiving the email.
But how will I remember to pray for him tomorrow, and four days from now, and a week from now?
Here is a simple productivity tip that solves the issue: Create an all-day-event in your calendar for the time the person will be gone, with the prayer requests in the note. Then, when you look at your calendar through that time, you will be reminded to pray for them and have their requests right at hand.
Certainly there are other ways to remember to pray as well. But if, like me, you often just try to rely on your memory when people have requests for a period of time, this is a simple way to make sure you will be more devoted to prayer for them throughout that time.
And so we also see that productivity practices can not only help us do our work better, but live other aspects of our Christian lives more effectively and fruitfully as well.
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
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!
I like the term “spiritual formation.” We often use it as another term for discipleship. It is an essential thing, therefore, for every Christian.
So what is it? I was at a retreat a few months ago that defined it perfectly and in a very engaging way. They said: “Spiritual and emotional formation at its core is learning how to love God, others, and yourself well.”
Spiritual formation (and discipleship), in other words, is about love. Love for God first, love for others, and indeed, loving ourselves well. (For if we don’t love ourselves well, we often don’t love others well–just as if you don’t take good care of your car, it won’t help others get around much either.)
Note two things from this definition.
First, we are to love well. Have you thought of discipleship and spiritual formation in that way before? As learning to love well?
Often we speak of love as central to the Christian life, but don’t make the connection that we can love in better or less helpful ways. Perhaps that’s why Paul speaks the way he does in Philippians 1:9: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent [what’s best next!]” (see also the parallel prayer in Colossians 1:9-12).
Second, note that there is a tie between spiritual and emotional formation. For a long time as Christians, we tended to see these two issues as separate. But as Peter Scazzero points out in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, you cannot be spiritually healthy unless you are emotionally healthy. For they overlap.
And so learning emotional intelligence, it turns out, is a key part of our Christian maturity and thus discipleship and spiritual formation. This is something we have not given much focus to, but need to.
So love God and love others — realizing that our call is not just to do it, but to do it well, and that affirming and learning how to connect emotionally is central to doing this.