“A highly practical road map.”—Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author and lead pastor of National Community Church
Despite the overwhelming amount of resources for time management and work-life balance, the ability to cultivate the efficiency and equilibrium needed to manage all our worthy pursuits can often feel frustratingly out of reach. The reason for our struggle is that productivity and time-management systems focus on individual habits rather than more meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes. But as it turns out, there is a better way to reach our full potential.
We don’t need just another approach to changing our habits. What we need is an operating system that takes into account the full scope of our lives. In these pages, bestselling author Jordan Raynor presents this system, using seven powerful time- management principles drawn from the example of how Jesus lived:
1. Start with the Word: Find meaningful connection with the author of time daily.
2. Let Your Yes Be Yes: Accept only the commitments you can fulfill.
3. Dissent from the Kingdom of Noise: Create room for silence, stillness, and reflection.
4. Prioritize Your Yeses: Confidently maintain your commitments.
5. Accept Your “Unipresence”: Focus on one important thing at a time.
6. Embrace Productive Rest: Live the God-designed rhythms of rest which are productive for our goals and souls.
7. Eliminate All Hurry: Embrace productive busyness while ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives.
With these principles, you’ll see how Jesus managed his time on earth and how he responded to human constraints much like the ones you face today. More than that, you’ll discover corresponding practices that will help you embrace the best, most Christlike version of yourself possible: purposeful, present, and wildly productive.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I’ve said it, you’ve said it—we’ve all said it at one point or another. Maybe you’re in a season of feeling swamped right now. You roll out of bed each morning exhausted from not getting enough sleep. You pull open your phone to find a dozen text messages, from the ridiculous (another GIF of a dancing dog) to the exhausting (“Can you bring Chloe home from church tonight?”). If you manage to squeeze in a few minutes of “quiet time,” you’re quickly interrupted by your calendar notifying you of today’s meeting that you didn’t have enough time to fully prepare for.
At work, the struggle continues. Your to-do list seems to be getting longer, not shorter. Your day is filled with back-to-back meetings, with no time to think in between. When you are finally able to carve out some time to focus on some “real work,” that familiar ambient anxiety creeps in, leading you to question if the project you’re working on is the “right thing” for you to be focused on at that moment.
After work, you rush back home to have dinner with your family or friends. Sitting across from the people you care about the most, you’re there but not really there, as your brain is trying to do the thinking you didn’t have time to do during the day. After dinner, it’s the mad rush of all rushes: clean up, help the kids with their homework, and pray that everyone finds time for a bath. After streaming your favorite show, studying for an exam, or cramming in a few minutes of reading, you check email one last time and go to bed, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Sound familiar? Of course, this is an extreme picture of what it looks like to be swamped, but I’m afraid it’s closer to reality than most of us care to admit. Increasingly, it feels like time happens to us—like we’re running a race that’s impossible to win. We feel beholden to our calendars, watches, and to-do lists rather than having dominion over these tools that promised to make our lives easier and more productive. We have too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. In short, we’re swamped.
The Bible tells us that more than two thousand years ago, Jesus’s disciples were “swamped” in a different way. Luke 8:22–23 records the scene:
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
The disciples were out there on the lake, enjoying a quiet sail with Jesus, when all of a sudden, things spiraled out of control. You can imagine the boat taking on water from every side while the disciples frantically try to bail the water out, only to look back and see more water than before. (Sounds a lot like our never-ending to-do lists, am I right?) Luke says, “The boat was being swamped,” leaving the disciples with only one thing to do. Recognizing they couldn’t calm the chaos on their own, the disciples woke Jesus up and begged him to help. Verse 24 shares what happened next: “[Jesus] got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”
This passage perfectly illustrates the core premise of this book—namely, that the solution to the disciples’ being swamped by the wind and waves is the exact same solution to our being swamped by our to-do lists and hurried schedules. The solution to our perennial struggle with time management is found in Jesus Christ. How? In two ways.
First, Jesus offers you peace before you do anything. Nearly every time-management expert says that the path to peace and productivity is found in implementing his or her system. This is what we might call “works-based productivity,” which claims that if you do exercises X, Y, and Z, then you will find peace. This book begins with the opposite premise, in what we might call “grace-based productivity,” which says that through Jesus Christ, we already have peace, and we do time-management exercises X, Y, and Z as a response of worship.
Again, look at the disciples in the swamped boat. They didn’t do anything to calm the chaos. They merely trusted Jesus to still the storm. You and I can do the same. By trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, we have “peace with God” (Romans 5:1) that is secure regardless of how productive we are or how well we steward our time. Matt Perman, a former member of John Piper’s staff and the bestselling author of What’s Best Next, wrote that for Christians “peace comes first, not second. The mistake we often make is to make peace of mind the result of things we do rather than the source.”
Don’t get me wrong—in this book, you’re going to learn how to do a lot of practical things that transform you from feeling swamped to feeling peaceful and productive. But the tactics in this book will never be your most foundational source of peace. If they were, this book would be guaranteed to fail you at some point. As Christians, our ultimate source of peace—our ultimate solution to being swamped—is found in the God-man sleeping through the storm. As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:14, “[Jesus] himself is our peace.”
Here’s the second way that Jesus is the solution to our time-management problems: he shows us how God would manage his time. This is a wild idea if you think about it, and we’re going to unpack it at length in chapter 1. No, the gospel biographies do not show Jesus walking around with a to-do list, calendar, or smartwatch. But as we’ll see throughout this book, the Gospels do show him prioritizing where he spent his time (see Mark 1:38), dealing with distractions at work (see Matthew 12:46–50), fighting for silence (see 14:13), and seeking to be busy without being hurried (see Mark 11:11). In other words, the Gospels show Jesus facing many of the same challenges we face today as we seek to steward our time. And because he was infallible God, we can assume that Jesus managed his time perfectly, providing us with the ideal model to follow.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Solution to Being Swamped xvii
Chapter 1 Start with the Word 1
Practice 1 Spend Time with the Author of Time
Practice 2 Pray What You Know
Chapter 2 Let Your Yes Be Yes 22
Practice 1 Choose a Workflow
Practice 2 Commit to a Single Commitment Tracking System
Practice 3 Collect Your Open Loops
Practice 4 Define Your Work
Practice 5 Maintain Your Commitment Tracking System
Chapter 3 Dissent from the Kingdom of Noise 52
Practice 1 Let Your Friends Curate Information for You
Practice 2 Stop Swimming in Infinity Pools
Practice 3 Choose More Filtered Content
Practice 4 Renounce or Attain Independence from Social Media
Practice 3 Parent Your Phone
Practice 6 Get Comfortable with the Crevices of Your Day
Practice 7 Take a Walk
Practice 8 Write to Think
Practice 9 Put the Quiet Back in Quiet Time
Chapter 4 Prioritize Your Yeses 78
Practice 1 Accept Your Mission
Practice 2 Choose Your Callings
Practice 3 Set Epic Long-Term Goals
Practice 4 Draft Quarterly Goals
Practice 5 Refine Your Projects Lists and Actions Lists
Practice 6 Lock Posteriorities in the Basement
Chapter 5 Accept Your "Unipresence" 100
Practice 1 Take Control of When You Check Messages
Practice 2 Eliminate External Distractions
Practice 3 Schedule Deep-Work Appointments with Yourself
Practice 4 Create Space for the Shallows and Serendipity
Chapter 6 Embrace Productive Rest 129
Practice 1 Break Well Every Other Hour
Practice 2 Create an Eight-Hour Sleep Opportunity Every Night
Practice 3 Cease and Feast Once a Week
Chapter 7 Eliminate All Hurry 155
Practice 1 Build a Time Budget Template
Practice 2 Adjust Your Time Budget in a Daily Review
Practice 3 Protect Your Time Budget with a Unique Approach to "No"
Epilogue: The Dark Side of Discipline 191