I used to be organized. I read all the books; I attended the seminars; I have the apps. I’ve created ideal weeks, set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and used every productivity hack I could find. Despite all this, I still spent the majority of this year so far in feeling perpetually overwhelmed.
In other words, I needed to read Matt Perman’s new book What’s Best Next. I’ve been following Perman’s excellent blog for years, and I’ve come to trust his advice. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this book, and I’ve already devoured it and ordered extra copies. Best of all, it’s already making a difference in how I think and live.
I love this book. Let me tell you a little about it before I tell you why you need to read it. Stick around to the end and you may even win a free copy.
What’s Different about What’s Best Next?
As I mentioned, I’ve read a lot about productivity. I’ve used Franklin Covey, David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and more. Every system I tried had its strong points, but they all left me frustrated. They seemed to be either too simple or too complicated, and they inevitably broke down under the weight of everyday use. This left me feeling stressed and frantic.
What’s Best Next is qualitatively different in a few ways.
First, it puts God in his rightful place. God cares about productivity. The Christian life is about doing the right things, including loving others and getting good works done. We need to look to God to define what productivity is, so that we can serve God and others. It turns out that Scripture has a lot to say about this issue.
Second, it applies the gospel to our productivity. The last thing we need is another system that weighs us down. What’s Best Next doesn’t impose an unrealistic system on us. It helps us realize that “the only way to be productive is to realize that you don’t have to be.” When Perman wrote “This book is also for screw-ups and failures!” I knew that this was a book for me.
Third, this book provides a more realistic and workable system. It’s a helpful combination of practical wisdom and biblical insight. I found that Perman encountered many of the same difficulties in other systems, except he’s made the necessary adjustments and tweaks. I’m already finding that his approach is more workable than anything else I’ve tried. He helps us define our work, architect a workable structure, reduce the unnecessary, and execute on what’s most important. He has keen insight into the obstacles we face in our era of knowledge work and digital overload, and how to overcome them.
Fourth, What’s Best Next brings us to what matters most. Productivity is not about getting it all done. It is about the “things that pass muster at the final judgment — and hence receive the verdict ‘eternally productive.’” Perman helps us understand why our lives and our work really matters.
I’ve made careful notes throughout the book, and I plan on returning to it often.
Why You Need to Read It
There are a couple of reasons why you need to read this book.
First, your life matters. You have been given a lot, and what you do with your life matters. As John Piper says, “Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love.”
Second, nobody is productive by accident. With the onslaught of emails, never-ending tasks, the end of the 40-hour workweek, and the endless avalanche of information, it takes a great deal of intentionality to do what matters most. What’s Best Next will not only motivate you to be productive, but it will give you the tools that you need.
It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it’s already paying dividends in my life. I hope you’ll read and apply it to.
I encourage you to get a copy. I buy most of my books on Kindle; this one is worth getting in paper for easy reference.
I'm giving away one free copy of the book. Enter your name and email below, and I'll randomly pick one winner. The contest is closes on Wednesday, March 5 at midnight, and is open to anyone who lives in Canada or the continental United States. Your email will be kept private, and you won't be added to any email lists.
Update: The contest is now over.