The Most Helpful Book on Productivity

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I am a big fan of being more productive, organizing your life for effectiveness and I’m always on the lookout for a helpful book in this area. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman is one of the best books on this topic.

What sets this book apart from others on productivity:

  1. Its emphasis on understanding how the gospel impacts productivity.
  2. How the gospel frees us to be productive.
  3. It also brings together some of the best ideas from other books on productivity to show a better system that combines the strengths of different systems.

If I had one criticism about the book, it would be how much time he spent convincing the reader that it is biblical to be productive. I know why he did this and the reasoning is sad: Christians seem to think productivity, organization or systems are unbiblical and have no place in the church. Sadly, this is why most churches are ineffective and why business leaders often feel like they don’t fit in churches.

One of the best reminders I took from this book and it immediately changed my stress level was planning my day in advance. I tried doing this the night before, but I then laid in bed thinking about the coming day. I now spend my first 5-10 minutes each morning at my desk, praying through and thinking through what I need to accomplish and list what is most important and remove everything else from my calendar or to-do list for that day.

If productivity is a struggle for you, or if you want to take your productivity to the next level, I’d highly recommend checking out this book. You won’t regret it.

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5 Albums I’m Loving Right Now

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I’m a huge fan of music and every year I post my favorite albums of the year. You can see my honorable mentions and favorite albums of 2013.

Since we’re halfway through the year, I thought I’d share 5 albums that I am digging right now (in no particular order). You can see all the albums I’m digging for the year on my spotify list here.

  1. Broken Bells – After the Disco
  2. Houses – A Quiet Darkness
  3. Lost in the Trees – Past Life
  4. Passenger – Whispers
  5. William Fitzsimmons – Lions

The list is definitely more melancholy and serious than my normal tastes. Part of that is getting older and the main part is I’ve been doing a ton of writing this year on my book, so I need the quieter stuff.

What are your favorite albums of the year so far?

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Something to Laugh at on Father’s Day

How to be More Productive

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Everyone wants to be more productive. We want to accomplish more in less time, be more organized, have less email to answer, less meetings, more effectiveness. Yet, no matter how many books we read, we feel more stressed out about it.

Here is one tip that everyone I’ve ever talked to who is productive, organized and accomplishes a lot.

They all do this.

Ready?

Plan your day. 

Sound simple right?

Most people simply let their day come at them. They might have things they need to get done: take the kids to school, go to work, write a sermon, attend a meeting, go to a bible study, answer emails, but they haven’t thought about what they need to accomplish and if it is that important.

Now, some people advocate planning their day at night and if that works for you, great. I can’t do that. If I plan my day the night before, I tend to lay in bed and think about the upcoming day and struggle to fall asleep. Instead, after I eat breakfast and after I’ve had some coffee and read my bible I sit down and lay out my day.

Here are some helpful questions:

  1. What has to get done today? A lot of what you are going to do today, you don’t have to do or someone else could do. This gets back to your goals for life. What do you hope to be or do? Often, we simply respond to fire or things that urgently appear on our calendars. Instead, plan what is important and accomplish that.
  2. What if I accomplished it, would make today feel like a success? This is a crucial question and sometimes the answer is only one thing, not many. Sometimes it is 3 things. Each day if you can answer this question and accomplish the answer to this question, it will go so far to reaching your goals for your life and accomplishing what God put you on earth to do.
  3. Do I need to be in that meeting? Have you ever sat in a meeting and thought, “Do I have to be here?” If so, you didn’t plan your day, you let someone else plan your day. Now, I know you have to be in some meetings because you get paid to be there, but you could talk to your boss about better ways to do meetings. Many times we have meetings simply to have meetings. Churches are notorious for this. Don’t do something just to do something.
  4. Give everything important a minute. Everything that is important or that gets done has a time attached to it. If something matters, it gets put on the calendar. Whether that is soccer practice, family dinner, writing a sermon, date night, exercise, reading a book or taking a nap. Everything that gets accomplished gets a minute. People ask how I exercise or read. The answer is that I schedule it. When that time rolls around, it is time to do crossfit, it is time to read. This helps me decide what I want to do and then do it. Too many people simply allow their lives to happen and then they end up tired, watching too much TV or letting someone else plan their life. By giving a minute to one thing, you are keeping a minute from something else.
  5. How can I add value to others today? One of the best ways to not waste your day and be productive is to help others, serve others and benefit others. Yes, this will take time and maybe away from something else, but you will not waste time when you help others.

The bottom line is your day will go to something, someone will plan your day. You can either take an active role in that planning or a passive role. I think you’ll agree, the ones who are productive, less stressed and more fulfilled are the ones who take an active role and plan their day. 

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How to be a Better Author

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Recently, I watched the author platform conference online. This was a series of interviews with authors, bloggers, marketers and other experts to help writers, speakers and bloggers be as effective as possible.

Below are the lessons from each interview that I watched:

Jonah Berger

  1. Create a connection with your book. Give something to people so that they make a concrete connection to what you are saying. At book events, he gave out tissues with the word Contagious: Why Things Catch On on them for his book and made the connection of “wouldn’t your like your ideas to be as contagious as the cold?”

Chris Brogan

  1. Be married to the outcome more than you are to the idea. This will allow you to enjoy the content you create.
  2. When it comes to branding, people think about people. The person sticks in the mind of people if you know who the person is.

Chad Cannon

  1. Books that sell come from authors that hustle.
  2. An author needs to provide value to the audience outside of their book.

Chris Ducker

  1. Writing a book is not like writing a blog post. Editing is by far the hardest part of writing a book.
  2. Just be you. Your readers and listeners will know if you are being real or not.

John Lee Dumas

  1. Failures happen when people don’t listen to their intuition. Successes happen when we do listen to our intuition.

Carmine Gallo

  1. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century and you are only as successful as your ideas.
  2. Most speakers fail because they don’t have their message down, they don’t know their story.
  3. The difference between a great speaker and a good speaker is the great speaker is always looking to improve.
  4. The 3 components to any great presentation: Emotional, novel and memorable.

Jeff Goins

  1. Activity always follows identity.
  2. Offline relationships still do matter in the midst of our social media worlds.

Chris Guillebeau

  1. A lot of people can launch a book well, but successful authors need to think about how to make it successful in 3, 6, and 12 months.

Derek Halpern

  1. The best way to promote yourself is to help others, to give a benefit to someone else.
  2. Content is not just about what you say, but how you say it.

Michael Hyatt

  1. Know your audience, who they are, what their needs are, and what questions they have.

There was some incredibly helpful things in these videos.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • I was reminded yesterday why preaching through books of the Bible is important.
  • I preached on a topic I don’t struggle with as much as other topics and one I haven’t preached a lot on, because of that.
  • I feel a blog post coming on that.
  • I preached on approval and our desire to be liked.
  • It was stretching and convicting at the same time as I realized last week I easily make my relationships about others getting my approval.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • Over the past week, Katie and I have been reading a book together that is so good. It’s John Ortberg’s new one: Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You.
  • Can’t recommend it enough.
  • I’m excited to be heading to Orlando later this week to speak at exponential.
  • I’m doing a breakout on how to transition a church with small groups to one with missional communities.
  • Should fun.
  • And humid.
  • Katie’s birthday is on Friday, so if you think of it, be sure to send her a birthday greeting.
  • I usually do a terrible job making her birthday special.
  • But not this year.
  • I have a lot planned for her (that is all a surprise).
  • Boom!
  • The downside for me is I’m not very good at keeping surprises from her.
  • Have to make it til Friday.
  • We had our newcomer’s lunch yesterday after church.
  • Blown away by how many people continue coming to Revolution.
  • We’ve had one every month this year and had over 20 people each time.
  • So cool.
  • I’d appreciate your prayers as we are pushing through a busy season as a church and a family.
  • We knew it ahead of time, but would still appreciate your prayers as we get closer to summer.
  • Time to finish my sermon for this Sunday and my exponential talk.
  • Here we go…
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Trevin Wax on The 4 stages of writing.

I recently came across the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, a book that has a chapter on the four stages of the writing process. Reflecting on my experience writing blogs and non-fiction books, I recognized these stages even if I’d never consciously labeled them this way.

Tim Challies on The porn-free family plan.

The tragedy of Michael Sam.

Michael Sam is so much more than a gay man. He is a man that is made in the image of Almighty God. His sexuality was never meant to hold the weight of his identity. Every time that he is referred to as the first openly gay NFL player what is happening is that his humanity is being robbed.

Things Disney Characters do That Would be Creepy if You did Them

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

book

How to optimize your energy and your tasks to work better.

Do what you’re best at when you’re at your best.

 

Jonathan Merritt on Grace. I can’t recommend his new book Jesus is Better than You Imagined highly enough.

Brian Dodd on 16 tips to be a great speaker.

Because leaders have to cast vision and inspire those on their teams to action, the ability to communicate well is a necessary skill each leader must have.

Reflections on the Noah movie. Helpful list.

Gloria Furman on Missional motherhood.

Eternity means that childrearing is an awe-full, serious joy.

Tim Challies on 7 things a good dad says.

“I love you.” Men can be so petty, so prideful, and hold back those words. Yet there is no good reason for it. The more awkward it feels, the more urgent it is. From the dads I admire I’ve learn that a father needs to say, “I love you,” and he needs to say it often.

 

 

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How to Reach Your Goal of Losing Weight

I got to share my story over the weekend at a health seminar. It was awesome to see the amount of people putting in the time and effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

If you don’t know my story, I used to weight almost 300 pounds and have a 42 inch waist. Over the course of 18 months, I lose 130 pounds and have kept it off for the last 5 years. It feels incredible. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about what does work and what doesn’t work to lose weight, keep it off, pass on healthy habits to your kids and enjoy life.

So, I put together all the blog posts I’ve ever written on the topic.

Being free from bad eating habits, a food addiction (and other addictions that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle) and poor body image:

  1. What to do on “Fat Days”
  2. Food, Weight, and Stop Being the Victim
  3. How to Examine Your Heart/Motives
  4. When Eating Becomes a Sin
  5. Why We Aren’t Healthy
  6. Women and the Cycle of Defeat
  7. Two Ideas that Should Change how We Think about our Bodies, Weight Loss & Food
  8. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace

How to lose weight:

  1. My Journey of Losing Weight
  2. How I got to where I am 
  3. The idol of food (the spiritual side of weight loss)
  4. Have a plan
  5. It’s for the rest of your life
  6. The effects
  7. Do your homework
  8. The idol of exercise & staying in shape

Staying healthy (eating well, avoiding burnout, etc.):

  1. Every Time You Say Yes to Something You Say No to Something Else
  2. What I Wish I’d Known About Energy, Family & Mistakes
  3. Making Room for What Matters
  4. How I Structure my Week
  5. How to Know You’re Too Busy
  6. How to do Crossfit on Your Own
  7. 6 Ways to Stay Motivated to be Healthy
  8. Thoughts on Burnout, Sleep, Adrenaline, Stress, and Eating
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Why do a Series on Men & Women?

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I’ve been asked by some pastors why we are doing a series for women and one for men.

The reason is simple, our culture has no idea what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

We struggle with identity issues, body image, how hard we should work, how we should dress, what should we put into our bodies. No one is sure how to let go of their past, how to find freedom from addictions.

While there are commonalities between men and women in their struggles, there are ones that are unique to men and women.

Because we often separate men and women at church in distinct ministries to talk about these issues, the other misses hearing about them. For example, I knew women struggled with body image issues, but while researching my talk for this week on the topic, I was blown by how much and why they struggle. Men can’t help their wife, daughters or be a good brother in Christ without knowing this.

In the same way, women know men desire to work and provide for a family, but why is that so important? How can that destroy and drive a man? If we simply separate men and women all that time to discuss these, we will never have true biblical community that walks together through it.

Another one, why do women struggle with the desire to have it all? Men do as well, but women do in a different way. Men desire is largely material and work related. Women struggle to have the body, hair, looks, house (spotless by the way), kids, perfect marriage and sex life, while cooking great meals and making money. Where does that struggle come from? What kind of legacy does that create?

For men, they struggle with boundaries and self-control when it comes to lust and porn. This isn’t news for women. What many don’t know is why that happens. Where it comes from and how porn rewires the brain of those who see it. How that will affect their marriage, how it will affect their daughter who will feel pressure in college to dress and act like a pornstar because that is all the men around her know.

But, if we bring men and women together and have a frank and honest discussion, maybe we can find  a new way forward, a gospel way forward.

When we first planned to spend 7 weeks on this (3 for women and 4 for men), I said, “This will either be one of our best ideas or worst.” We’ll see.

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