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A Productivity Tip For Smart, Creative People

I really enjoy being a creative Web worker. But, sometimes, the work can be as tough as nails. On the one hand, I just love the creative process. It’s so much fun to dream and imagine and toy with the possibilities. All too often, though, when it comes time to actually get things done, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in all those “creative juices.”

Do you ever feel like that?

Do you ever feel like you’re running a hundred miles an hour in place? You know you’re busy doing stuff, and maybe feeling a little overwhelmed by what still needs doing. All the while, it just doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward. Or, for the effort you feel you’re putting in, it doesn’t feel like you’re moving forward as fast as you should be.

I think of those running-in-place times as my personal bout with “creative hamster” syndrome. It’s uncomfortable. I try to pick something and stick with it until it’s finished, but it gets difficult. Focus becomes elusive. And, I start to feel anxious because I believe I’m being productive, but I just don’t feel like I’m being effective. And, being effective is what I’m really after.

The search for the “right” productivity tip

From time to time, I’ve thought that finding and using the “right” productivity tip or set of tools, tactics, and strategies could help me get focused, become more efficient, and therefore, be more productive. But, tactics and strategies seem to never be enough.

Lately I’ve felt a real, practical need for structure and accountability, to help me move forward in my business. So recently, I enrolled in a business coaching program. I must say, from day one, this program has been spot-on. It’s been incredibly valuable–a real blessing.

But, my business mentor is not Christian. So while I resonate with her advice and instruction in the practical aspects of my work, I know we don’t share the same worldview. That means that I still need a Gospel-centered supplement to guide and help me filter everything I’m learning through the truth of Scripture.

In the end, what matters most to me is that whatever I’m setting my hand to do, it’s the right work to do, the best work to do. I care most that I accomplish God’s plans for me, and complete work that keeps it’s value (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Through my prayers, I was led to discover Matt Perman’s new book, What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done.

A clear path to rethinking “productivity”

Matt’s book launched today. But, he was gracious to provide me a pre-launch copy last week, which I began devouring the very same day.

Matt’s book had me at John Piper’s Forward. It begins,

This book is simply extraordinary. This is largely because of the way God has wired Matt Perman. His mind is saturated with biblical truth, and he is passionate, sometimes to a fault (as you will see in his personal stories), about being effective for the glory of Christ.

The first night, I read through the Introduction and Chapter 1. I learned, for the first time, about Knowledge Work. It’s funny, here I was all this time doing this work, and had never once heard it called by its name. Chapter 1 discusses Knowledge Work, and answers such questions as:

  • What is Knowledge Work?
  • What Is Unique About Knowledge Work?
  • What Is Challenging About Knowledge Work?

Matt then goes on to discuss the villains of our work: ambiguity and overload. A core message of the chapter is that “we’re using industrial era tactics for knowledge era work.” We’re making that mistake at a great cost to our being productive.

Last night, I read to the end of Chapter 2, where Matt discusses why efficiency is not the answer to being truly productive.

I’ve just been stunned at how much What’s Best Next resonates with me. Mostly because this book doesn’t stop at merely presenting reasonable arguments for transforming ideas and perceptions about productivity. At the end of each Chapter, and later in Part 3 of the book, there’s guidance for immediately and practically applying the concepts discussed.

From the first chapter, I was over-the-moon to find that the very first application aligned with an action item from the business coaching program I’m working through. BINGO! What’s Best Next is just the Gospel-centered supplement I was looking for!

A FREE bonus

I’m really looking forward to continuing through this book. It’s already been instrumental in changing a few ideas and assumptions I had about what it means to be productive. I never expected that being able to actually define the work I do would have such a major impact on how I approach everything connected to it. And, it’s already begun to spill over into other areas of calling and my life’s work: wife and home manager, blogger, church ministry leader.

As I said before, What’s Best Next launched today on Amazon. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. This past Saturday, I quietly launched the Church Website Ideas newsletter. So, I want to celebrate this “double launching” by giving you a free sample of What’s Best Next, when you subscribe to my newsletter.

Your free book sample includes:

  • Table of Contents
  • Forward
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1

Here’s to your productivity!

Image Credit: hang_in_there | Flickr cc

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