Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, posted this article first on SEBTS’s website. I read through it and found it very helpful, thought provoking, and needed. Hope this will be of helps to you as well.
May this be used of the Lord to help us each better make much of Jesus!
In Christ Alone,
8 QUESTIONS TO BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
The commonsense wisdom of Pareto and Parkinson seems rather obvious: “Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to your desired outcomes [Pareto] and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines [Parkinson].”
It’s not understanding the two laws that is the challenge, but applying them. Fortunately, Timothy Ferriss gives some diagnostic questions to tease out what it might mean for us to apply these laws in our work lives. Spend some time reflecting on these (it may take a day or two), and remember to be honest with yourself.
1. If you had a heart attack and had to work two hours per day, what would you do? This exercise is not optional. The doctor has told you that if you don’t limit your work to 2-hour days, you will die in 3 months. So what’s your plan?
2. If you had a second heart attack [What is wrong with your diet, by the way? Stop with the fried food, already!] and had to work two hours per week, what would you do? Again, this is a literally life-or-death situation. You can’t do more than 2 hours a week. What makes the cut?
3. If you had a gun to your head and had to stop doing 80% of different time-consuming activities, what would you remove? There’s a difference between simple and easy. It’s easy to keep throwing away time on fruitless activities. It’s far less easy to pursue simplicity. Simplicity requires ruthlessness.
4. What are the top three activities that I use to fill time to feel as though I’m being productive? We all do this on occasion. What are your crutch activities, those things you drift toward when you don’t have a clear plan of action?
5. Who are the 20% of people who produce 80% of your enjoyment and propel you forward, and which 20% cause 80% of your depression, anger, and second-guessing? “Exact numbers aren’t needed to realize that we spend too much time with those who poison us with pessimism, sloth, and low expectations of themselves and the world.”
6. Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?” What’s important here is to set priorities for days, weeks, months, and to refuse to focus on interruptions while you pursue these goals. One way of going about this is to identify your most important tasks and to accomplish them by 11:00 AM, refusing to open your email until you do. Once that inbox is open, you become a slave to somebody else’s to-do list. And keep the daily goals limited: “There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day. Never.”
7. Put a post-it on your computer screen or set an Outlook reminder to alert you at least three times daily with the question: Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?
8. Do not multitask. Okay, this isn’t a question. But it’s too important to leave out. The problems with multitasking are abundantly demonstrated. The brain simply cannot focus on accomplishing two distinct acts simultaneously. What we call “multitasking” is really just shifting repeatedly between various tasks…with the net result that each task is given less attention and requires exponentially more time. Avoid multitasking at all costs.
(J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary)