Matt Perman has been working on this book for a long time, and it’s scheduled to release on March 4:
Matt Perman. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. 351 pp. 45-page PDF sample.
I’ve read a bit on productivity (not nearly as much as Matt), and this book is overall the most helpful one I’m aware of because it combines the best of the productivity literature (like David Allen’s Getting Things Done) with sound theology.
That’s why John Piper writes this in the foreword:
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. . . .
I doubt there is a person on the planet who knows both theological issues and time-management literature to the depth and extent Matt Perman does. This combination is at times mindboggling.
Of course, I am totally biased—not dishonest, I hope, but biased. I’ve known Matt as his teacher, pastor, colleague, and friend for almost fifteen years. From hundreds of interactions on all kinds of issues, my judgment is this: Here is a theological mind that keeps pace with the best. Almost without fail, a conversation with Matt about any biblical or theological issue proves fruitful. (p. 11)
Matt has already served me well through personal conversations, correspondence, and his blog posts. Here are four examples:
- Ever since Matt’s 2008 blog post on getting your inbox to zero each day, I’ve kept my Gmail inbox at zero each day.
- I’ve followed Matt’s advice for the most part on how to set up your desk. I even use the IKEA desk he recommends, though I’ve tweaked the setup by adding two external monitors that connect to my laptop. (One monitor stands horizontally and the other vertically.) Update on 3/14/2014: How I Set Up My Desks: One for Sitting, One for Walking.
- Matt inspired me to customize a way to organize my theological library. The way Matt categorized the topics on Desiring God’s site served me well as I thought through how to categorize my library.
- If I multitask, I will never get into the zone and thus will miss out on the best and most productive experience in work.
His book updates and packages his insights in one easy-to-follow place:
Here’s how Matt summarizes the book in about 500 words (pp. 329–30):
We need to look to God to define for us what productivity is, rather than to simply subscribe to the ambiguous concept of “what matters most.” For God is what matters most.
When we do this, we don’t enter a realm of spiritual weirdness, as we might fear. Good secular thinking remains relevant as a gift of God’s common grace. Neither do we enter a realm of overspiritualization where the things we do every day don’t matter.
Instead, the things we do every day take on even greater significance because they are avenues through which we serve God and others. In fact, the gospel teaches us that the good of others is to be the main motive in all that we do and the chief criterion by which we determine “what’s best next.” This is not only right, but also is the best way to be productive, as the best business thinkers are showing. More important, when we do this in God’s power and as an offering to him, he is glorified and shown to be great in the world.
In order to be most effective in this way in our current era of massive overload and yet incredible opportunity, we need to do four things to stay on track and lead and manage our lives effectively:
The result of doing these things is not only our own increased peace of mind and ability to get things done, but also the transformation of the world by the gospel because it is in our everyday vocations that we take our faith into the world and the light of the gospel shines — both in what we say and in what we do (Matt. 5:16).
IF YOU TAKE ONLY FIVE PRODUCTIVITY PRACTICES AWAY FROM THIS BOOK
Learning and especially implementing productivity practices can be hard. It is easy to forget what we learned or forget how to apply it. One remedy is to keep coming back to this book. But if you can take away only five things from this book, take these:
- Foundation: Look to God, in Jesus Christ, for your purpose, security, and guidance in all of life.
- Purpose: Give your whole self to God (Rom. 12:1 – 2), and then live for the good of others to his glory to show that he is great in the world.
- Guiding principle: Love your neighbor as yourself. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. Be proactive in this and even make plans to do good.
- Core strategy: Know what’s most important and put it first.
- Core tactic: Plan your week, every week! Then, as things come up throughout the day, ask, “Is this what’s best next?” Then, either do them right away or, if you can’t, slot them into your calendar or actions list so that you will be sure to do them at the right time.
“The Online Toolkit” offers free resources that supplement Matt’s book. (If that link isn’t working, it should be soon.)
Update on 3/13/2014: How I Set Up My Desks: One for Sitting, One for Walking
Update on 4/4/2014: