The Best Quotes from How to Get Unstuck

The Best Quotes from How to Get Unstuck April 30, 2018

We struggle to get the right things done more than we ever have. Between constant distractions, text messages, and overflowing inboxes, it can be hard to know what we should do next and how we should work hard so that we produce good work that brings us joy and benefits other people.

Matt Perman helps us break the logjam in his new book How to Get Unstuck, which makes a great companion to his previous book What’s Best Next. Perman helps us understand how to recover a vision for that which is truly important and commit to working wisely on the things that matter from a God-centered and Gospel-centered perspective. He focuses on doing work that matters for the glory of God, the good of others, and our personal joy in Christ. This book is a great guide to doing good work and I look forward to revisiting many of its key insights in coming weeks.

Here are my favorite quotes from How to Get Unstuck.

“The encouraging and surprising truth is that it’s okay to be stuck. Being stuck can be a mark that you are doing important things, because important things are often hard. And when things are hard, we are likely to get stuck.” (12)

“We want to do work that brings benefit to people in the best way we can. Doing so is important and it matters. It matters because it’s part of a fulfilling life; it’s part of God’s plan for us for reflecting him in the world; and it’s the way he renews our cities socially, economically, and spiritually.” (30)

“Too often, personal effectiveness is used as a tool to build the life we want, and God is left out of the picture. This is not a small matter. It is actually very dangerous, for Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) How do you forfeit your soul? By not seeking God first.” (37)

“Unlike urgent things, important things do not press upon us. That is a fundamental distinction between urgency and importance. Urgent things press upon us, pressuring us to act. Important things do not press upon us, and thus we can easily put them off until later. As Stephen Covey notes, ‘When urgency is the dominant factor in our lives, importance isn’t.’” (65)

“Quadrant 4 is the quadrant of waste. The things here don’t even have urgency going for them. When we feel deluged by the urgent, we often escape to this category for a sense of relief. Watching too much TV, mindlessly surfing the web and watching YouTube, and things like this are examples of things in this quadrant. The big problem is that these things don’t provide the relief they promise. They actually make us feel worse. This is the quadrant of deterioration.” (69)

“Personal leadership–being able to lead yourself with genuine integrity–is the private victory. We cannot lead others truly unless we can first lead ourselves authentically. Personal leadership comes before interpersonal and public leadership.” (90)

“Without vision, it is all too easy to live reactively instead of proactively. We let crises, firefighting, and unconsidered opportunities guide and direct us rather than maintaining a deliberate approach to life.” (104)

“Being productive as a Christian is ultimately about doing good for others, and we should seek to do good for others and society in the greatest possible sense–changing the structures of society so that it is organized in a way that supports the doing of good and advancement of God’s purposes more naturally and fully instead of opposing his purposes.” (113)

“Some people downplay the importance of enjoying our work, but it matters! It can’t be the only consideration, but it is an important one. I have heard it over and over again from effective people that one of their keys to success is enjoying their work, because without that they wouldn’t have the fuel to persist.” (127)

“The biggest reason we have to start with our time is because that’s where the limitation is. The supply of time never goes up; you can’t make more of it. Tasks, on the other hand, are infinite–there can always be more. So if you start with your tasks, there can be no end. But if you start with your time, you can contain your tasks to the most essential and not constantly be overwhelmed and behind.” (165)

“You should never have a meeting without defining the purpose and, in most cases, the agenda.” (172)

“It is not enough to decide what you will do. To truly make those things happen, you need to decide what you won’t do.” (187)

“Protecting our time is not enough; we also have to protect the mental focus to get things done, for we don’t just have limited time; we have limited brainpower.” (189)

“Many people confuse being busy with being productive.” (190)

“Instead of working in a way that allows for constant interruptions and engages our attention at a partial level, we focus entirely and without distraction on the work that we are doing for an extended period of time.” (196)

“Let’s say it takes twelve minutes to get into a state of focused concentration. If you have even a thirty-second distraction five minutes in and another forty-second distraction ten minutes in, you won’t achieve your full concentration. A mere seventy seconds are having an outsized effect on your productivity.” (211-212)

“One simple but constantly overlooked reason we get stuck is this: we’re tired. We get tired physically. But we also get tired emotionally, socially, and even spiritually. We have to continually renew ourselves and grow in all four of these dimensions if we are going to stay sharp.” (217)

“Preaching to yourself is massively powerful for getting unstuck. It acknowledges that you don’t have to be the victim of negative, anxious, self-defeating thoughts. You can stop listening to yourself and start preaching to yourself instead.” (220)

“As we meditate on Scripture and get to know God better, our conscience and discernment are educated, and we become more able to make spiritually edifying decisions in the everyday.” (221)

“Start with small commitments, even made just to yourself, and build up your ability from there. Build momentum through making and keeping smaller commitments, and grow from there.” (232)

(You can find my favorite quotes from other books here.)

Related Posts:
The Best Quotes from 15 Things Seminary Didn’t Teach Me

Cultivating a Deep Walk with the Lord

For Further Reading:
What’s Best Next
by Matt Perman

Do More Better by Tim Challies



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