What’s Best Next Part 1
Many of my friends know that What’s Best Next by Matt Perman is one of my favorite books. It has influenced the way I think about productivity. It has also been revolutionary in the practicality of how I arrange my day, and my systems, so I wanted to share some of my key takeaways in a blog post here.
- “Productivity is not first about efficiency – doing things right and doing them quickly – but effectiveness – doing the right things.” I resonate with this point. My typical strategy when knocking out a to-do list is to decide what I want to accomplish, and then start with the lower priority things first. This way I won’t just not do the last things, because they are more important. It is a way I trick myself into getting everything done, rather than just the most important things.
- “We can be productive in an ultimate sense only if we center our productivity around God and the Gospel.” Alright, I am going to preach for a second. I think we all long to accomplish meaningful things. We want the things we do to mean something, not just be empty and meaningless tasks. In God’s written word, we find that our actions can have eternal implications! In fact, much of what we do DOES have eternal implications; it doesn’t get more meaningful than that.
- “The chief guiding principle of effectiveness is to put the other person first in all that you do, including your work.” This one was a little harder to believe at first, but it is reinforced by many other great business books such as Good to Great by Jim Collins. He says that level five leaders are ambitious for their organization to excel rather than themselves, and tend to be modest about their personal contributions.
- Why is it so hard to get things done? Much of what we do is “knowledge work.” This is work that consists primarily of creating, using, and communicating knowledge as opposed to manual labor. This was such a helpful distinction for me! In many jobs, although they can be tough, complicated, technical, etc., the actual thing that needs done is fairly straightforward. The “what” to do is already there; it is just a matter of doing it. Perman submits that we are all fairly good at executing task lists, but we are not good at populating those task lists in more self-directed situations. Knowledge workers have to define the work, then do the work. We all encounter this kind of work, whether at the job or in our personal lives.
Be on the lookout for a second blog post on this book. These were some key take aways from the first half of the book. Next time I will cover the second half of the book.