Need to be More Productive? This Helped Me.

Living productive lives requires vision and focus. Vision directs your decisions. Not only by pointing you towards a target, but also by eliminating other targets as options. The standards of our world have programmed us to think there are no codes beyond the culture and nothing beyond the moment. This has birthed twin maladies: YOLO and FOMO (You Only Live Once and Fear of Missing Out).

In a world with so many enticing options this becomes a real fear. It keeps people from committing to one thing. What if? What am I missing? This can cause us to over-commit our time.

Busyness keeps people from using their gifts for God. They have so filled their life with other things that there is no room left for God’s mission. I can see it coming years in advance. Mom and dad have little Alvin running from activity to activity but with little time to learn about the eternal significance of God’s work. Alvin grows up with the idea that we can live fully committed to God without placing a priority on the advancement of the kingdom. Alvin becomes a nice man with a nice family that does nice things; meanwhile, God is looking for dangerous people to do dangerous things and fighters who push back darkness with their lives not tolerate the Goliaths of our world taunting us day in and day out.

Our dreams should include God’s dreams of the entire world hearing about redemption through Christ. Our dreams should focus on eternal values not temporal trinkets. When I filter my passions through God’s heart, the vision becomes clearer and I can begin putting together a plan that I can act on each day, month and year.

Choose Your Targets

Each fall, I spend a season in prayer and I ask God for direction in three areas: What character traits does he want me to grow in, what skills should I add to my life, what projects should I pursue? I then write down a short list of things and post it in a prominent place in my office.

A President Helped Me be More Productive

I then take my daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals and run them through the decision-making matrix that General and President Eisenhower used. When I learned of this matrix, it helped me see where and how I misused my time and energy and grow in productivity.

President Eisenhower used a matrix to help him manage his tasks and decisions. All tasks can be divided into four categories: 1. Urgent and important, 2. Urgent but unimportant. 3. Important but not urgent 4. Unimportant and not urgent.  You will do your best work in the third category—important but not urgent quadrant.

Urgent and important tasks require immediate attention (urgent) and move us toward long-term objectives (important). Looming deadlines, emergency situations, unforeseen car issues, time-sensitive important communications all fit into this category. Not long after Thanksgiving my appendix burst and I needed surgery. This was urgent (I needed immediate attention) but also important because one of my long-term goals was to live long term! Often with better planning, quadrant one activities can move into your sweet spot of quadrant two.

Quadrant two, not urgent, (don’t require immediate attention) and important (move us toward our long-term goals). These include well-planned, creative productive time. This is where you do your best work and get the best return for your investment. Your brain is relaxed enough to be creative and you have enough time to produce great results.

Quadrant three activities are urgent (demanding immediate attention) but not important (they don’t propel you toward your goals). These are often disguised as interruptions from people who want your help with their goals. It’s great to be a team-player, but don’t neglect what God has called you to accomplish.

Quadrant four activities are not urgent and not important. These are time-wasters. Mindlessly surfing the net, video games, scrolling Facebook for hours could all fit into these categories. Try to limit these to 5% of your time.

For more on productivity and personal management, we have some great lessons in our Christian’s Guide to Wealth Creation. Click here to take a tour.

The One Lesson from High School Econ That Actually Matters to Your Income

I don’t remember much about my economics class in High School. I do remember my teacher, Mr. Carstensen, we locked him in a closet. I liked economics (still do), but I’m not a fan how we teach it to our students. We don’t teach them the rules of the financial sandbox. We don’t teach the most proven methods of escaping poverty–entrepreneurial activity. Most of our high-school graduates have no idea how to participate fully in the economy. Many work hard but struggle with low income and grope in the dark searching for the rules of the game.

Some people are great budgeters. They clip coupons, they pay their bills but they cannot get ahead. They give all they can, but they still struggle financially. There are many factors to a person’s wage but one needs to start with that most valuable of lessons in economics class (the one most people slept through): supply and demand.

Increasing Income

If you’re not making enough money you only have a couple of options. First, you can learn to solve harder, more in-demand problems. The harder the problem, the more people get paid to solve it. The harder the problem, the fewer the people who can solve it thus the increased demand.

Or, if you’re not a brilliant super genius, you can learn to solve easier problems for more people. Leverage your talents by creating systems (usually business systems) to serve more people. McDonalds doesn’t make the best burger, but they have the best systems. They solve an easy problem—making a hamburger—for billions of people (not an easy problem). It’s their systems of production, logistics and training that make the difference for them. Unfortunately, many students will graduate this year with degrees that did not prepare them to solve in-demand problems. Many will carry crushing loads of student debt into their future.

According to Forbes magazine, employers are now seeking graduates with degrees in, economics, electrical engineering, logistics/supply chain management, information sciences and systems, management information systems, mechanical engineering, computer sciences, business administration, accounting and finance. If God has wired you for any of these areas, money spent on this kind of education will tend to pay you higher wages.

College May not be for Everyone

However, learning a trade may be a quicker route to financial freedom. If you can leverage that trade into your own business, you can leverage the talent of other people to help your vision flourish. Or, you can invest that surplus into financial investments or some real estate. Don’t eat all your seeds every month, save some to plant into good investing soil.

A friend of mine works at Walmart. He has a high-school diploma and has more in his 401k than the vast majority of Americans. He lives beneath his means, invests in smart mutual funds and employs all those dollars each day. They work for him and have returned a handsome profit.

The quickest way to making more money is not to lobby congress for a higher minimum wage. It is to take ownership of the kinds of problems you can solve and increase the amount of value you bring to every transaction.

The More you Learn the More You Earn

Motivated people can learn almost any skill today. The internet has opened the doors to learning like never before. You can even learn chemistry, computer programming, artificial intelligence, micro-economics from MIT free!

Cindy worked in an office as a secretary for a number of years at a local car dealership. In her spare time, she taught herself to code websites. When the dealership needed someone to help with their website, Cindy was ready. Her boss told me if he had to start laying off people, she would be the last to go. She made herself so valuable to the company. Never stop learning. The job you have today, may be replaced by a robot or kiosk tomorrow. Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s at.

I created the Christians Guide to Wealth Creation to help people grow their salaries. It contains 27 lessons, all focused on increasing your income. We address all four facets of generating wealth—culture conditions, personal characteristics, the three wealth creation methods and the world of investing. The first investment you should make is in yourself.
To learn more about the Christians Guide to Wealth Creation, click here:

Why Smart People Listen to Their Momma

A few years ago it would be unheard of to see a young person knock out an elderly man and unthinkable that they would punch older lady. But security cameras are catching these thugs doing just that. A few years ago, when a police officer told you to stop doing what you were doing and put your hands in the air, you did just that. (At least I did.)

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Seven Ways to Get A’s for Slow Learners

I’m a slow learner. I struggle with focus. I was tested for learning issues at a young age. After four decades in the education system in some form or fashion, I learned how to get A’s. It wasn’t always that way. I failed a number of classes in high-school. I even failed gym class.

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A Procrastinators Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals in 2015

I was a born procrastinator.  I am not wired as an “alpha type A go get ‘em type.”  In school, my grades reflected my laziness.  I have been on academic probation at two universities.  However, when I began walking with God, He gave me direction and purpose.  This translated into actions my day to day life.

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The Hidden Factor of Success That No One is Telling You

I recently met with twenty-two-year-old Jordan to coach him in some life decisions. He had found himself in a pit through the accumulation of his decisions over the last five years of his life.  Jordan is a healthy, bright, talented, and hard-working young man.

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