3 of 5 stars to Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff
I enjoy Acuff’s humor (the snark and the 80’s references), and I appreciated his numerous punches at perfectionism especially as it hinders productivity, or at least makes getting things done no fun.
4 of 5 stars to Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge by Luc Beaudoin
We must process a lot of information, and this book provided some useful (cognitive) categories for sorting and prioritizing and reviewing knowledge using Apple products. I am thankful for the terms and for the many screencasts linked to in the book. I already use some of the apps he recommended and will be adding OmniOutliner and a flashcard app to my arsenal.
I have read a variety of books about productivity and getting things done and how to figure out what’s best next. I kind of like the genre. I have tried a lot of task apps, todo systems, and techniques for processing information. These have a place. We are created for good works, and being able to plan and organize and aim our good works is a good thing.
But. There is often a but. But, efficiency and effectiveness can become idols. Not only can they become false gods, they are not gentle gods, they are cutthroat. There is always someone serving those gods better than you who get greater rewards, and there are always items left on the list every day that didn’t get done to burden your guilt. Most of the books and articles and lifehacks offer an answer. You must change something in your circumstances in order to do better.
The assumption is that the problem with your productive service is your environment. What you need is a list organized like this. What you need is a clean desk like this. What you need is a place to store all your papers, digital or analog, like this. What you need is to carve out blocks of uninterrupted quiet time like this.
One danger of these sorts of “this-es” is that they tempt us to see our neighbor (family member, friend, co-worker) as an inconvenience, a hindrance to “our” work. But it is not blessed to blame. It is not blessed to lust for quiet, and get angry, when God clearly isn’t giving it to you. Pastors tell other pastors the story of Jonathan Edwards who regularly spent thirteen hours a day by himself in his study. While I’m thankful for some of his fruit, he left his wife Sarah to run the house. That is not more spiritual, it’s more selfish.
Let us be zealous for good works as Paul told Titus to tell his people. Go ahead and make a list, and get an app if you need to. Let us redeem the time because the days are evil. And let us never think that if we could just control our environments then we could obey God. Obey Him always and in everything.
This isn’t a rule I force myself to follow, but it is a principle I practice when appropriate.
If 80% of success is just showing up, 90% is showing up early.
—Jeffrey Zeldman, Free Advice: Show Up Early
Own your distractions, resist ﬁddly half-measures, and never for a minute allow yourself to believe that productivity systems, space pens, or a writing app that plays new age music while you stare at a blank page in full-screen mode can ever teach you anything about how to care.
—Merlin Mann, First, Care
According to 50 former pastors, faithful pastoral ministry requires initiative and discipline, with a vivid sense of divine calling, from a constantly refurbished theological commitment, and personal, growing affection for the sheep.