Systems & Tips

Thursday Time Tip: Focus on Outcomes, Not Activity

Focus on Outcomes Not Activity

A costly mistake we can make is to measure our productivity the wrong way: how many hours we work, how early we woke up, how much time we’ve blocked off without interruptions to focus on that latest project.

But we all realize that what really matters is the results, not how long we worked. So obviously let’s shift our focus to what’s truly important to measure.

It’s a simple mindset switch, but it’s powerful.

Systems & Tips

Thursday Time Tip: Plan a Response to Obstacles

Plan a Response to Obstacles

I’m going to start up a new feature here on Life of a Steward – the plan is to offer very brief time management tips every Thursday (in case you couldn’t figure that out from the headline). So please let me know if you think this is a worthwhile feature or not.

I had a friend who was an FBI agent and regularly had to approach all sorts of people for interviews and questioning. He talked occasionally with suspects but most of the time was in completely normal and safe conversations. Yet, in training, he was taught to think in every situation, “What would I do when this person pulls a gun on me?”

Not if they pull a gun on me, but when they pull a gun on me.

This mental exercise – not just considering the possibility of danger but actually anticipating it – helped him react a split second faster.

I have another friend who trains athletes. He’ll take on high school kids and develop them into Division I athletes and even on to professional leagues.

If he sees a kid with high potential, he doesn’t tell them, “You’re going to be a successful athlete.” He will tell them, “If you commit yourself and work hard, you can be a successful athlete.”

Systems & Tips

Geeky Theory: Evaluating Your System’s Storage and Movement

Storage and Movement

This is a pretty geeky post about some underlying concepts in productivity. If you are looking for brief and practical tips, check out more of those posts here. But hopefully these thoughts are helpful as we strive to be as effective as possible.

I’ve talked before about finding a productivity approach that works for you. Everyone’s situations, responsibilities, strengths, and personality quirks are different, so ideally everyone will have their own unique tool belt.

But how do you know what’s right for you? How do you evaluate your system?

There are many things to look at: from the sustainability of a system to whether or not we have fun using it.

But today I wanted to focus on two elements: storage and movement.

Discipline Systems & Tips

The Subtle Secret: Master the Mundane

Master the Mundane

I have a friend who is a former world-class athlete. According to him, in his prime he was pound-for-pound the strongest man who had ever lived – and he has the world records to prove it.

Now he trains NFL players, top-level college athletes, Olympic hopefuls, and high performers in a variety of sports.

The one thing that my friend stresses as the key to success – the one thing that really separates the elite from the rest – is not talent, knowledge, or even hard work.

It’s mastering the mundane.

Balanced Life Biblical Worldview Systems & Tips

Release Today: What’s Best Next by Matt Perman


Years ago when I began this blog, I looked around on the internet to see who else was doing anything similar. There were lots of material on productivity, but very little penned from an explicitly Christian perspective. But there was one individual that stood head and shoulders above the rest: Matt Perman.

The combination of his theological insight and practical outlook is unrivaled. He takes the often-thought-of-as-worldly areas of work, leadership, and productivity and approaches them from a gospel-centered and scripture-saturated perspective.

For the last few years, Matt has poured his blood, sweat, and tears (From what he’s said about the writing process, that might not be too much of an exaggeration) into his first book, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. And finally, the book releases today!

I highly recommend that you click on over and purchase it. If you could do so this week, that would be particularly helpful – Matt and his publisher have the hopes of hitting the best-seller list (which is based on sales in this first week).

Systems & Tips

What Science Shows Us about Goal Setting

What Science Shows Us about Goal Setting

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about productivity matters, particularly when it comes to goal setting.

What types of goals should you set? How should they relate to what you do on your average day or week?

In Willpower, we see two psychological studies which seem to disagree. But with a little examination, they provide a clearer picture of some powerful ways to make our goals effective and powerful.

Systems & Tips

A Bad Mood Leads to Procrastination

A Bad Mood Leads to Procrastination

One reason people procrastinate is a deep-seated and subtle fear.

But sometimes there are other ingredients at play.

Research has shown that one critical reason for procrastination is simply whether someone is in a good mood or bad mood.

If you want to be maximally productive, take care with your mood.

Biblical Worldview Systems & Tips

Why God is OK with You Finding What Works for You

God is OK with You Finding What Works for You

We’re pummeled every day by advice from the time management experts. There is no shortage out there of systems, tools, procedures, and approaches.

You’re searching for the perfect one. You’ve given the different methods an honest shot. But some just seem silly. Some seem too rigorous. Some seem like they won’t work in reality.

And you begin to think perhaps something’s wrong with you. You wonder if you’re just lazy. Are you just destined to be unproductive and ineffective?

Don’t lose heart.

One of the unique foundations of biblical productivity is the fact that you are an individual.

Not only is this profoundly Christian, but it’s freeing emotionally and beneficial practically.

Balanced Life Systems & Tips

How to Master Goals and Keep Them from Ruining Your Life


It’s that time again. Time to dial in those goals and aspirations for a new year.

Time to decide where we want to be this time next year.

Time to resolve to do what’s necessary to get there.

But that approach can end up frustrating you, guilt-tripping you, and even wrecking your life.

Balanced Life Systems & Tips

Delete Your Facebook App and Take Back Your Productivity

Delete Your Facebook App

The following is a guest post from Grayson Pope.

You know what it’s like. That overwhelming desire to check Facebook. Maybe you got a new message, or maybe someone wrote on your wall.

So, of course, you check it.

But at what cost?

Well, that cost is becoming more and more clear as the numbers develop and our online habits are studied.

In a word, the cost is simple — time. And it may be more time than you think.

That’s why I recently deleted my Facebook app and took back my productivity.