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.

Baking the Socialist Pie

Recently, an older gentlemen asked me to give him insight into the mystery of the millennial generation supporting a Socialist like Bernie Sanders. “Why would anyone do that?” he asked, “Don’t they know their history?” I believe the groundswell of support for Bernie Sanders (accepting his own party’s leadership) is due in part to ignorance of history and economics.

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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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The Politics of Income Inequality

Income inequality has become one of the big issues of our time. However, our national and local leaders promise help, but what they’re preaching is not helping anyone. Politicians promise “job growth” and “income growth” but government is not a job creator. The governments’ role is to keep the peace and punish lawbreakers. When a government official promises you “better jobs,” or “higher wages” they are lying to you. Governments don’t create wealth. They only redistribute wealth that others have created.

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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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