To optimize productivity means we get things done with the greatest degree of effectiveness and efficiency with consistency as much as possible. In order to make that happen we need good STEM:
- Time Management
For now, I will expound just a little on systems. A system is a process we implement in order to manage everything we’ve got going on in life. For most, that means using a time management tool, calender day planner or app of some sort. However, those tools are optimally effective when used in the context of a bigger picture. Understand that those tools and resources are needed but don’t work as well without more robust consideration of the total picture. In essence, the aforementioned tools help us to manage the micro system of time but not the macro system of life which includes more than time. For example, one cannot run a business by running just one aspect (eg sales and marketing) without managing finance, human and real capital, research and development, production, etc. Similarly, we cannot run our lives without considering every area of life. Most people have at least seven 7 areas of life: Spiritual/Devotion, Family/Friends, House/Home, Finances, Personal Care, Work/School, and Future Pursuits. Therefore, without considering the macro view of EVERYTHING we have going on in our lives, the type of tool or resource we use will be limited at best and ineffective at worst. However, most people don’t take that view because we either don’t know how to or it seems to be too time consuming or laborious to do. Nevertheless, if we really want to optimize productivity in our lives, we need to get a grasp on the total, macro picture of our lives.
The Big Statement
Everything that operates must have a macro operating system that integrates and efficiently operates the collection of systems that operate in tandem with each other. We will call those smaller interdependent systems: micro-systems. For example, a computer has a macro-operating system (Windows 7 or 8, iOs for Macs, etc) that operates the smaller micro-systems and applications that perform specific interdependent functions. Even God must have a macro system in order to integrate and operate all of the micro-systems that make of up the heavens, solar systems, eco-systems, world and human systems. Otherwise, without, there would be utter chaos in an epic and apocalyptic way.
God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…. 1 Corinthians 14:33 and Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Given the Scriptures above, in order for there to not be confusion (Greek: disorder) and for all things to be done decently and in order, He must have a macro-system in order to manage all that He has to manage. I am not sure how to articulate the system God uses but there are a few things that I can articulate. For example, God uses Godly wisdom which He shares with us.
The Lord possessed me (wisdom) [wisdom inserted in context] in the beginning of His way, before works of old. Proverbs 8:22 and Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and in all thy getting get understanding. Proverb 4:7
In other words, God uses His wisdom to manage His system and He invites humankind to use His wisdom in managing our macro-systems in life. Also, He has given humankind many glimpses of how that wisdom can be applied in a practical way by us. In fact, God even gives us a glimpse of a macro-system that we can apply. In Joshua 18:1-6, the Children of Israel were less than optimally productive and actually were slack in taking full possession of the promised land. Therefore, Joshua told them to do two things:
- Describe The Land (assess the whole situation by writing it down in total)
- Divide The Land into Seven Parts (break down the whole into manageable parts)
Assessment of the total picture is a macro-systemic view while division of the total whole is a micro-systemic view. For us, a macro-systemic view means that we must consider how the 7 areas of our lives work as a conjunctive whole and then consider how each interdependent area functions. Also included in this analysis, we must consider the tools and resources we use in order to manage all of this. Here are a few steps we can follow:
1. Assess Our Macro-System By Writing Down The Interdependent Areas We Have in Life (Describe the Landscape of Our Lives)
- Spiritual Life
- House and Home Life
- Family and Friend Life
- Personal Care
- Future Pursuits
2. Break Each Area Down Into 7 Manageable Action Steps (Divide the Landscape of our Lives):
- Overall Tasks for Each Area of Life ( These are broad categories of things that we desire to do in each area of life [eg In the House and Home Area of Life, we might have Overall Tasks of: Cleaning The House; Yardwork/Landscaping; Special Projects; Repairs, etc)
- 2. Action Steps to Accomplish Each Overall Task (These are more specific actions to be taken in each overall task for each area of life. [eg In the House and Home Area of Life; under the overall task of Home Office, I will need to clear off desk and shed the unneeded paperwork that has stacked up.
- 3. Determine How Often Action Steps Will Need to Be Taken For Each Overall Task in Each Area of Life.
- 4. Determine What Day and/or Date You Will Perform Each Action Step For Each Overall Task in Each Area of Life
- 5. Determine How Much Time/Money (the cost) to Perform Each Action Step
- 6. Determine Who or What Can Help in Achieving Each Action for Each Overall Task in Each Area of Life
- 7. Plot and Plan
- Plotting means we group like frequencies (I-Immediate, D-Daily, W-Weekly, M-Monthly, Q-Quarterly, A-Annually) together. By doing this, we can gain a macro-view on what we have going on immediately, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. With this macro-view, we can then determine which tools work best to help us to manage the micro-systems such as: Spiritual life, Family Life, House and Home Life, Finances, Personal Care, Work/School Life, and Future Pursuits. At first glance, this may seem next to impossible to do given all we have going on in our lives. However, we have developed a tool that automates the process.
- Planning means we begin to schedule when and how we are going accomplish what needs to be accomplished in EVERY area of life not just a select few areas. To do this effectively, we should schedule recurring (ongoing) action steps in a calendar (automated or manual) and then schedule the action steps that are immediate or one time action steps within the context of all the ongoing action steps. Note: there are many, many tools to help in this process (online calendars, apps, other technology, etc). However, again, many of these tools assume that you already have a grasp on the macro-view of your life and as a result only work to enhance or automate what we have acknowledged as important components in our lives.
Next week, we will discuss how we can Optimize Productivity by having a good time management system.
Be Blessed and Be Optimally Productive!
Clarence J. Parks, JD, MDiv
Christian Productivity Trainer & Coach
Seminar and Workshop Leader
Author of Overcome Procrastination God’s Way!