Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Challies. 120 pages. 2015
There is much of value in this small book written by popular blogger and author Tim Challies. It is extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical. He states that he wrote the book because he wants his readers to do more of what matters most and to do it better. He writes that readers will get the most from the book if they read, observe, and imitate—at least at first. As time goes on, they can incorporate those tips they find especially helpful and discard the others.
The author begins by helping the reader to think about their God-given purpose and mission. He writes that there is no task in life that cannot be done for God’s glory, and that God saved us so that we could do good works and in that way bring glory to him. He states that productivity is effectively stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Productivity, and the book, are about doing good to others.
He looks at three productivity thieves: laziness, busyness, and what he refers to as the mean combination of thorns and thistles. He states that busyness and laziness are both issues that arise from within. They are deficiencies in character that then work themselves out in our lives.
He writes that while the book will emphasize tools and systems and other important elements of productivity, nothing is more important than our own holiness and godliness.
He begins by having the reader create a list, using a productivity worksheet you can download at a web site provided in the book, of each of their areas of responsibility, targeting five or six categories, with no more than nine. He helpfully shares his own list. He then asks the reader to list the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each area of responsibility. He has the reader define their mission for each area of responsibility. The primary purpose here is to guide us week by week as we schedule our time and make decisions about where to spend our time.
He states that you can do more good for others if you have fewer roles and projects than if you have more. He considers goals to be to be a helpful, but optional component of productivity.
He then discusses tools, indicating that many people try to be productive with tools that are poorly suited to the task. He tells us that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools for the job and then growing in your skill in deploying them. He states that effective productivity depends upon the below three tools and the relationship between them.
- Management tool. A task management tool enables you to capture and organize your projects and tasks. He recommends Todoist (todoist.com) as the task management tool. Todoist will capture, organize, and display your projects and tasks while notifying you about the most urgent ones.
- Scheduling tool. A scheduling tool enables you to organize your time and notifies you of pending events and appointments. He recommends Google Calendar (calendar.google.com) as the scheduling tool. Google Calendar will hold and display your important events, meetings, and appointments and, through the notifications function, alert you ahead of any pending meetings or appointments.
- Information tool. An information tool enables you to collect, archive, and access information. He recommends Evernote (evernote.com) as the information tool. Evernote is a powerful piece of software that enables you to capture almost any kind of information.
The principle that he uses in organizing our productivity systems is: A home for everything, and like goes with like.
The author tells us that these three tools work together to help plan your day, and the tools work together to help you get things done throughout the day. Thus, your day has two phases: planning and execution. He calls his planning phase his Coram Deo, a Latin phrase that means in the presence of God, and one that I use as the title of my blog.
He states that there are always a few things that are undeniably high priorities and a few things that are undeniably low priorities. But the majority will fit somewhere in the middle, leaving you to make difficult decisions. He also writes about things we should stop doing because they don’t fit into our priorities, much like Jim Collins “stop doing” list.
He discusses the concept of a Weekly Review, in which he looks at the question: How can I serve and surprise in the week ahead? Whereas the daily planning session is tactical, a weekly review is strategic. He writes that that our system will function well when we make time for this review and it will begin to sputter when we do not.
Two helpful bonus chapters are included:
- Tame Your Email-6 Tips for Doing More Better with Email.
- 20 Tips to Increase Your Productivity
He includes helpful “Action” steps after each section. For example “Choose at least one habit other than productivity that you will pursue as you read and apply this book.”
If you are looking to increase your personal productivity, check out this book. It’s a quick read and if the concepts are applied it can reap huge dividends.
Visit http://www.challies.com/do-more-better for worksheets and bonus material to help you get started.