At the start of 2016, I think it is important to evaluate and explore the level of our productivity in any given arena. Chris Bailey does a stellar job of coaching his readers through such in his newly-released volume “Productivity.” In short, this volume is not your average spin on productivity. In a real sense, it is a practicum on how one can and should effectively master the use of their time and time.
Bailey takes a year out of his young life to do an experiment on productivity. What he finds are some astonishing facts about himself, the human race and research that points to how we, as humans, can effectively make the best use of our time, energy and attention. Within the first section of his work, Bailey stresses the importance of discipline and focus by way of the use of meditation. Take note that this is not a Christian or Spiritual Book. However, Bailey highlights an essential element to not only being a person of character and faith; but being grounded requires a time of being centered and focused on the spiritual reality surrounding who we are. In my faith and the dynamics of spiritual formation, I consider this essential in how we work and serve in Christian ministry. As we set our priorities, we are then poised to work smart, knowing that all tasks are not created equal; and learn to identify what is most important.
Bailey contends that productivity is about working deliberately and not, as he terms it, working on ‘autopilot.’ Working deliberately helps you and I to locate priorities in our work, to define the big picture of our tasks and to discern how best we can take control of the obligations at hand. The central pieces of this kind of drive are focus and discipline. As Bailey says: “…productivity has nothing to do with how much you do, and everything to do with how much you accomplish.” (12) Efficiency in our work is no longer enough; it is all about accomplishment. As a strong proponent of daily meditation, Bailey asserts that productive people not only manage their time, but they also manage their attention and their energy well. To this author, the three ingredients of productivity are time, energy and attention; and doing it deliberately and intentionally.
A very important component in this volume is what Bailey terms our Biological Prime Time (BPT). He argues that, by taking a self-assessment in tracking the fluctuations of our own energy levels throughout any given day, we are then poised to take steps to becoming more productive, committing our high-impact tasks to our BPT. As the author stressed, productive people don’t just manage their TIME well; they manage their ENERGY and ATTENTION well. Interestingly, if I may apply this to the arenas of relationships or in ministry, we can typically scale our progress in any given relationship or in our spiritual growth in where we assign our energy and attention, as well as our time. In 2016, it should be a general rule of our proverbial thumb not to assign energy to non-impact influences, low-impact thoughts or mundane things that consume our attention. The key point is to spend your time more intelligently and to make every effort to “punctuate your productivity.” Generally, it is good to track our time; and, as Bailey contends, when we are aware of how we are spending our time, we are then prepared to make adjustments. I like that he not only gives us the what of maximizing the use of time (after all, most already know they need to manage their time more efficiently); but he walks the reader through the process of doing as such. As this is important to all persons in every station in life, it also applies to how we plan our study time in devotion/meditation, personal growth and time for sermon preparation. Knowing your strong points throughout the day allows you to appropriate and allocate your creativity, sharpness and even vulnerabilities, all that are needed.
The book consists of eight (8) sections. All of them have a different variable; but all of them are simply and overarching of one theme: controlling your mind; redirecting your attention; choosing what you give priority to; getting started on tasks and choosing where you will procrastinate.
Overall, I think the book of overwhelmingly filled with practical principles and tools to prioritize and maximize our productivity; and thus becoming more effective in what we accomplish, short term and long term. Bailey gives a lot of information. I don’t think this book is for the faint of heart. In like manner, it is not an easy-read. However, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give this book a 7.5. Again…it is not your typical book on productivity. Therefore, I’d suggest giving it a read!