Does God actually have anything to say about getting things done? Is it even possible to have a biblical perspective on such a practical subject like how to get things done? And should we even care about it as Christians, or is it unspiritual?
That’s the question Matt Perman wants to answer in his new book, “What’s Best Next.” It releases on Tuesday, March 4, and I want to commend it to you.
A short disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy to read and review, but am not being compensated in any way to provide a favorable review. These are my honest thoughts about what Matt has written and how it might interest you.
Here are three reasons that normal people (not just executives, managers, or productivity buffs) will enjoy this book:
1.It’s easy to read
Brevity: (Most of) The chapters are short, and this makes it a breeze to read. A quick look at the table of contents will show you that the chapters are mostly 10-15 pages long, which means that the average reader can manage about a chapter a night. This helps.
Clarity: I would say that Perman’s writing style is informal, but precise. The most important ideas are easy to find, thanks to grayed-out boxes on the pages that highlight key terms, main points, and important quotes. This not a book that you’re going to struggle to understand. Most chapters end with a “core point,” “core quote,” and “immediate application.” I was never left wondering what to do with the stuff I’d just read.
2. It’s God-centered
It’s unfortunate, but the phrases “God-centered” and “gospel-centered” have become a bit of a buzz word in Christian circles. If you say that something is “gospel centered,” you’re in the club/circle. It’s also unfortunate that, in light of this, you can find yourself surprised when a book actually lives up to the claim, “this is a God-centered take on [insert an issue here].” What’s Best Next actually does. So, what does a gospel-centered perspective on productivity look like? Here are some quotes to give you a feel for the way it’s presented in the book:
As Christians, we are here to serve (Matt. 20:25 – 28). When we are being productive, we are actually doing good works, which is part of the purpose for which God created us (Eph. 2:10). A good approach to getting things done reduces the friction in doing good and also amplifies our ability to do good.
… getting things done, making ideas happen, and being productive are all ways to make a difference in people’s lives. As Christians, we ought to care about this and be excited about it, for it is not only exciting in itself, but one of the chief ways God is glorified in our lives.
And the paragraph that struck me most:
The essence of GDP [gosepl-centered productivity] is this: We are to use all that we have, in all areas of life, for the good of others, to the glory of God—and that this is the most exciting life. To be a gospel-driven Christian means to be on the lookout to do good for others to the glory of God, in all areas of life, and to do this with creativity and competence. Further, being gospel-driven also means knowing how to get things done so that we can serve others in a way that really helps, in all areas of life, without making ourselves miserable in the process through overload, overwhelm, and hard-to- keep-up systems.
Or consider Ephesians 5:17, the fundamental New Testament passage on time management. This passage speaks of time management as not being chiefly about applying correct principles to our lives but being about understanding “the will of the Lord” and doing it. Productivity is specifically about doing “the will of the Lord.” It’s about specifically orienting our lives and decisions around God’s will.
3. It’s practical
Theology ought to be the most practical thing in the world. What has more relevance to everyday life than the God who made it? In What’s Best Next, you’ll find a gospel-centered perspective on productivity that’s actually practical. This shouldn’t be noteworthy, but it is. Here are 2 things that Perman covers:
- email. I’ve been using his system to deal with email for a few months, and have saved myself an absurd amount of time. He outlines this process in the book. If you’d like a preview you can find his blog post on it here, or get it as a pdf here.
- weekly plans. This is one of the key ideas in the book. A whole chapter is dedicated to helping the reader figure out, “how can I plan proactively for the upcoming day/week/month so that I’m doing what I really need to do?” This is about as practical as it gets.
Get the book!
Again, I’m not getting paid to blog about this book. But I can’t recommend it to you enough. Matt Perman’s blog, which goes by the same name as the book — http://whatsbestnext.com/ — has been an enormous help to me as I figure out how to organize my life and work. My guess is that
- if you’ve got more to do than you think you can handle
- if you find youself fogetting important things
- if you want to be able to more projects and tasks better