Systems & Tips

The Bruce Lee Style of Productivity

Bruce Lee

He is most recognizable for his movie and TV appearances, but don’t let that fool you. Bruce Lee was the real deal.

His speed was legendary, and his fighting performance was impressive. But what really set Lee apart was his revolutionary philosophy and approach to the martial arts – and this, surprisingly, can have a profound impact on our time management.

Bruce Lee was ruthlessly practical. In a world where tradition reigned supreme, he invented his own fighting technique. Lee examined all sorts of styles, even boxing and fencing. He took what worked and left what didn’t.

But here’s the most amazing insight: Bruce Lee realized it was up to individuals to determine what worked best for them. He referred to this as the style of no style.

A 6-foot 7-inch tall bodybuilder may find that one set of techniques works best for him – while someone who’s small, wiry, and fast as lightning may have a totally different style.

Time Management: the System of No System

Bruce Lee’s view on martial arts is the closest parallel I can find to my personal philosophy of methodology in time stewardship. While many people battle about this system vs. that system, you can say that I use the system of no system.

Here it is in a nutshell:

1. Our ultimate goal is to be obedient to Christ and to be good stewards of our time. When I refer to a system that works, this is what I have in mind. Not necessarily objective results. Not necessarily a subjective feeling of peace and happiness.

2. The only test of a system is whether or not it works for you. The advice of experts may help you evaluate your system, but sticking to their style just because they’re the so-called experts is meaningless. A system that works for you is what’s important.

3. You are unique. You have unique strengths and weaknesses. You have a unique daily life with unique demands upon your time. You have a unique calling with unique aspirations and ambitions. Take a look at yourself and use this knowledge to evaluate different methods.

4. Examine systems, tips, and techniques. Investigate various approaches to see if there’s anything interesting that would work for you. If you’re currently doing something that works, see if you can strengthen it.

Be careful though – this needs to be a balancing act. Spending too much time thinking about methods can keep you from taking action and can end up being a form of procrastination.

5. Be brutally honest about what works. Remember: what’s important is that a system works. Not necessarily that it’s always fun or that you always enjoy it. There are times where obedience to Christ will be hard. Paul describes it as toil. For instance, I’ve found that waking up very early is a system that works for me, although I’d be much more comfortable sleeping in.

Also, don’t be ashamed to go with a system that isn’t very popular or trendy. The latest tool or fad may not work for you.

6. Changing situations may lead to changing systems. If you’ve just gotten married or had a kid, if you’ve just received a promotion or a new area of responsibility, if you’ve just launched into a new ministry, or whatever change may come into your life – re-evaluate your approach. A minor tweak or even a major overhaul may lead to a system that works better for your new situation.

7. Others will probably have different methods. There is no uniform, correct system to use as we strive to be productive. It’s fun to talk about what works for me and what works for you – and those conversations can be great sources of information that help us evaluate our routines. But just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s the best approach for you.

The Productivity Training Ground

This blog hopes to be a survey of methods. Rather than seek to outline one particular system as the best, I hope to present several different techniques and schools of thought. I plan to provide insight into the pros and cons of each system – as well as sharing my personal methods and routines.

But the goal is not so that you follow my way of doing things – but rather that you’ll have information to make your own decision about what works for you. And by all means, feel free to share your input as we continually learn together.

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