Real Productivity: Getting the Right Things Done

By Hugh Whelchel

On the first page of What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, Matt Perman puts his finger on the problem that has dogged me throughout my career: 

“Most of us are feeling that we have way too much to do and too little time in which to do it. As David Allen points out, the process of managing our work is often messy and overflows its banks. Behind closed doors, after hours, there remain unanswered calls, tasks to be delegated, unprocessed issues from meetings and conversations, personal responsibilities unmanaged, and dozens of emails still not dealt with.” 

In the next paragraph, Perman sums up the frustration we all feel at the end of a long day of work when we feel we did not get done what we really wanted to accomplish. 

“This is especially unfortunate because we live at an incredibly exciting time in history. Many of us love our jobs and find the world of work exciting. We have more opportunity to do good than ever before and more opportunity to do creative, challenging work than perhaps at any point in history.” 

Perman suggests that the aim of What’s Best Next is to reshape the way we think about productivity. He then presents a practical approach to help us become more effective in our lives with less stress and frustration. 

The book achieves this goal by doing something unique in comparison to other books of this genre. In parts one and two of the book, Perman lays out a solid, biblical reason for why we should be getting things done by exploring the bigger picture of productivity in God’s plan. 

This idea of gospel-driven productivity calls us to: “…use all that we have, in all areas of life, for the good of others, to the glory of God…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.” 

Next, in parts three through seven, the book moves from practical theology to practical application. This is the how that is the basis for most books written on this subject. Here Perman pulls together the best secular thinking around the idea of productivity by viewing it through the lens of his gospel-driven model.

He writes that this idea of gospel-driven productivity… “…also means actually 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-tokeep up productivity systems.” 

This new perspective makes it clear that we as Christians are called “to put productivity practices and tools in the service of God’s purposes.” 

In the final analysis, Perman explains that from a biblical perspective productivity isn’t just about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done. This book shows us how to effectively do the work that matters in order to bring glory to God, serve the common good, and further his kingdom in the here and now. 

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done is a book that I wished someone had given me 40 years ago. Read it and you will be astounded by all the things you do. 

Published with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics’ blog. Subscribe to the IFWE Blog at www.tifwe.org

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