From Drucker in The Effective Executive:
The knowledge worker cannot be supervised closely or in detail. He can only be helped. But he must direct himself, and he must direct himself toward performance and contribution, that is, toward effectiveness.
The motivation of the knowledge worker depends on his being effective, on his being able to achieve. If effectiveness is lacking in his or her work, his commitment to work and to contribution will soon wither, and he will become a time-server going through the motions from 9-5.
Good observations from the Scottish preacher and writer John Colquhoun (1748 – 1827), from his book A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel:
Can a man perform no good works till after he is justified in the sight of God? Hence it is manifest that they who rely on their own obedience for a title to justification are strangers to good works.
Their continued and avowed dependence on their own works for a right to justification is a sure evidence that they have never performed a single good work; it demonstrates them to be totally destitute of that “holiness without which no one shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). To pretend to sanctification, and then to rely on it for justification, is to derive the fountain from the stream, the cause from the effect, and so to invert the order of the blessings of salvation.
It is necessary that our sins are forgiven, and our persons accepted as righteous in the sight of God, in order to our being capable of yielding the least degree of acceptable obedience to Him. …
It is the distinguishing property of all good works that they are performed from, and not for, justification.
For those who live in the DC area, I will be speaking this Saturday morning on productivity and the gospel for the Redeemer Roundtable, hosted by Redeemer Church of Arlington (a church plant of Covenant Life). I will do two messages, with each followed by Q&A. If there are any readers that want to stop by, it would be great to see you!
Here are the details:
The Redeemer Roundtable, hosted by Redeemer Church of Arlington, engages frontline Christian leaders in various areas of industry to discuss what it means to think through issues such as money, business and politics in a way that is Biblically faithful and contextually appropriate.
This month Matt Perman will be joining us to talk about productivity in light of our callings as Christians. Matt writes a popular blog on productivity called What’s Best Next. Matt is a seminar speaker at this year’s Desiring God National Conference and has spoken at The Gospel Coalition’s National Conference. He is also the Sr. Director for Strategy at DesiringGod in Minneapolis, MN.
Location: Arlington Temple UMC (1835 N Nash St., Rosslyn, VA 22209)
Date: July 24, 2010
Time: 9:00 – 11:00am (bagels and coffee at 8:30am)
You can RSVP to johannah [at] redeemerarlington.com
Here’s another book I’ve recently dipped in to: Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. Based on what I’ve read so far, it’s an enjoyable discussion of why your brain works the way it does in relation to various issues of productivity (for example, why you can’t multi-task).
Here’s an interesting paragraph:
While you can hold several chunks of information in mind at once, you can’t perform more than one conscious process at a time with these chunks without impacting performance. We now have three limitations: the stage takes a lot of energy to run, it can hold only a handful of actors at a time, and these actors can play only one scene at a time.
And here’s another very interesting point on the consequences of being “always on”:
“Always on” may not be the most productive way to work. One of the reasons for this will become clearer in the chapter on staying cool under pressure; however, in summary, the brain is being forced to be on “alert” far too much. This increases what is known as your allostatic load, which is a reading of stress hormones and other factors relating to a sense of threat. The wear and tear has an impact. As Stone says, “This always on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace era has created an artificial sense of constant crisis. What happens to mammals in a state of constant crisis is the adrenalized fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in. It’s great when tigers are chasing us. How many of those five hundred emails a day is a tiger?”
… [Also], the surprise result of being always on is that not only do you get a negative effect on mental performance, but it also tends to increase the total number of emails you get. People notice you respond to issues quickly, so they send you more issues to respond to.
A friend of mine recently recommended The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. I haven’t read it yet, but it looks good. Here is a short description of some of the author’s findings:
Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic — a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption — and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.
More good thinking from Michael Hyatt, this time on an approach to managing email with an assistant that really looks promising.
What’s helpful here is that Hyatt first discusses what didn’t work, and then outlines the process that they finally settled on.
Good words from Michael Hyatt.
Some good observations from David Allen in Making It All Work:
Working your process takes time. As I described in chapter 6 on clarifying, it usually requires an hour a day just to stay current with the typical volume of information.
That’s a highly productive expenditure of time, during which you’ll be thinking, making decisions, completing short actions, routing data, communicating, and defining and organizing new work. But it’s not the kind of activity you can do while you’re working on longer tasks or in meetings.
Though many executives find it useful to leave the first hour or so of the morning open for it, processing time is something that you may not find easy to block out. Some people have a stable enough work environment to allow for clearing the decks first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, but you may simply have to clean up your in-basket “between the lines” — whenever you can as you move through your day.
The critical factor is to be aware that it will take time. If you allow yourself to be booked in meetings through an entire day, you will fall at least an hour behind in your processing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you realize that you will have to “pay the Piper [that is, John Piper -- just kidding!]” sometime soon. Many, however, don’t seem to realize or accept this reality and then operate in a constant state of frustration over having to make up the lost time. That’s like complaining that taking a shower eats into your day!
People who get accustomed to the true amount of time and energy required for these procedures begin to incorporate it into the stride of their life and work, instead of railing against it.