5 Counterintuitive Ways To Stop Wasting Time and Become More Productive

orologio_clock_alarm_icon-3333pxWhat do Steve Jobs, Al Mohler, and You have in common? You each have the same amount of hours in the day.

We all do. Time is no respecter of persons. It keeps moving. And it doesn't seem to slow down.

Maybe you're reading this and you're an extremely disciplined person.

Maybe you're as productive as Al Mohler who is president of a seminary, writes books, produces a radio show, travels and speaks at conferences, and is dedicated to his family.

Maybe you crush it.

Or maybe you're like I was. I was terrible at time management.

Yes we all have different capacities for different things, but we all have the same amount of time. Super productive people have the same amount of time as those who feel like they're not able to get anything done.

You've heard it before: "If I only had more time, I would do this or that...."

We all share the same 24 hours.

Fundamentally it comes down to how we manage the time we've all been given; how we prioritize our given tasks and responsibilities.

With all the books and stuff out there on time management and productivity, it can seem like we're all drowning in self-help tips and tricks and life-hacking advice. This post, however includes some counterintuitive ways to immediately stop wasting time and get more done.

5 Counterintuitive Ways To Stop Wasting Time and Become More Productive

1: Pray Until You Pray

As one who trusts in Christ, I quickly learn that when I don't slow down, casting my cares on him every day, I eventually become extremely out of balance. As a result, I spin my wheels and just get down right cranky.

It's a mysterious principle that by taking a deep breath, slowing down, and waiting on the Lord, you'll actually be more fruitful and productive with your time.

Here's a great quote:

I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer. — Martin Luther

Read it again.

It goes against every man-centered pragmatic bone in my body, but it's the only way I'll ever be effective over the long haul in a way that honors God.

The puritans put it this way: "Pray until you pray."

Don't rush through your time with the Lord, you'll only shoot yourself in the foot and be less productive in the long run.

We need to warm up. We need to slow down and quiet our souls in order to hear and receive from the Lord. Begin by praying and asking God to simply quicken your heart, and give you real, life-giving, God inspired prayers.

It will transform your life, and you'll get more done for His glory.

2: Take A Complete Day Off Once A Week.

This isn't about being legalistic or trying to reinstate the Sabbath day. There is, however, a principle of resting from your work. It's a principle that God honors every time. It's been built into our world since day 6!

Seriously. Don't do any work at all.

It may not be practical right now for you, but begin taking small steps in this direction.

If you get two days off from work, use one of those days to catch up on work around the house, or whatever other things need to get done. Then take the next day to simply decompress. Have fun with your family. Go be outside or take a trip somewhere.

This requires faith and following God. Ask for wisdom in how this looks for you, and discover the difference between what "work" and "rest" looks like.

Again, God will honor it.

3: Keep a Daily "5 Minute" Journal

I've been using the "5 Minute Journal" by these guys each morning and each evening. After I've spent time with the Lord in the morning, I take just a few minutes to think about the day, writing down what I'm thankful for, some things I think would make the day great, and a little self talk about how I believe God sees me.

At the end of the day, I simply look back, writing three things that were amazing about the day, and then two things that I could've done differently to make the day better.

Thinking positively as you approach the day, and then a simple review of your efforts, is a great way to clarify your direction.

4: Create Clear Boundaries With An "Ideal Week" Template

Thinking about an "ideal week" will help you have margin AND give you the ability to fully engage in your work. Go through each day, giving it a "theme" to help you focus on one big picture idea at a time. This is especially important if you wear a lot of hats in your work.

Here's an example of what an ideal week can look like in a simple spreadsheet:

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 4.52.36 PM

Change it up for different seasons of your life. I usually review mine every 6 months and create a new one if needed.

Having clear boundaries will actually make you more efficient in your time. Parkinson's law, (though obviously not a perfect "law") is a great principle that says any given task will expand to fill the time given to it.

Do you have a project that's due in 2 months? Unless you give yourself your own deadline (like say a few weeks), the project will take exactly 2 months to complete.

This is where procrastination comes from....

Procrastination is simply when a task didn't have an internal deadline and expanded to fill the time all the way up to the end.

For more on Parkinson's law, check this out.

5: Say "yes" more

I know this sounds crazy.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm a firm believer in guarding your time and saying "no" when it doesn't align with your priorities.

The key is discovering what things you should say yes to. As these guys say, "yes" is a small word that opens the door to big things.

Another reason you should say yes more is for the sake of testing out Parkinson's Law.

Try it. Look for something to say yes to, put it in your calendar, and make it a valuable learning experience. What worked? What didn't work? Would you say yes again? Over time you'll have learned how to optimize your efficiency and be more productive.

This is actually a much larger topic in my mind that I can't give the attention it deserves in this blog post. More to come on this later....

Define Your "Why" and Take It One Day At A Time

Let's wrap this up.

Ultimately, you need to ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing. Having a clear purpose statement for your life, will help you know how to prioritize, make goals, and no exactly what to say yes or no to.

But even then, you need a simple plan with the things mentioned above.

Don't forget...

You have the same 24 hours a day that Steve Jobs had.

So go make your dent in the universe....

CMB 039 : The 20 Mile March (2013 Wrap Up Part One)

CMB.podcast.cover3As we wrap up 2013, I want to get highly practical and provide you with some ideas, tips, and tactics that you can take into your new year, to see immediate results. For the next four weeks, each episode will have something that you can take and apply right away.

I’m learning that taking action and putting one foot in front of the other, is the only way to grow in anything. Even in our walk with Christ, we aren’t merely hearers of the word, but doers.

It's in our doing that we learn and grow the most.

Action is a huge part of anything in life. No one sits around on their hands to watch things magically happen.

So… here’s where we’re going the next four weeks.

I want to give you a few ways to quickly be on the path towards a GREAT new year. These are 4 things every musician should do in 2014...

Listen or download the podcast here, and scroll below for more details, notes, and links....

[powerpress]

CMB 039 : 20 Mile March (daily activity) CMB 040 : Upgrade Your Tools (become an engineer) CMB 041 : Connect With Your Listeners (master the internet) CMB 042 : Harness Inspiration (decode the mystery of creativity)

The 20 Mile March

In today's episode, I share with you an insightful principle for daily discipline, taken from the book Great By Choice, by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen. It's called "The 20 Mile March".

Here's an excerpt from an interview they did about it (read the full interview at the link below)...

In the book, we talk about the 20-mile march. The idea is that … you have a lower threshold and then you have an upper limit. You must hit the targets you set for yourself no matter what. You don’t go too far on any day, month or quarter.

When we looked at Amundsen, the fascinating part is that he had, literally, a 15-mile march target. He was going to go 15 miles every day toward the South Pole… .He built a system around that. On the good days, he held back; he didn’t go the distance he could have gone. He just stopped in the early afternoon and rested. On the very difficult days, he made maybe five, six, seven miles, but nevertheless, he traveled on those days where Scott and the other team would sit in their tents. Both of them had a very interesting approach. Underlying that is what can only be described as fanatic discipline. Amundsen was extraordinary in his discipline, preparing his whole life for this particular moment. That really stands out among the leaders that we have studied. -Morten Hansen

A little bit every day, regardless of conditions, does far more than one off chunks of hard work here or there.

In the life of an artist, you must be thinking marathon and not sprint.

So, for 2014 think about what you're "20 Mile March" will be, and let us know in the comments below.

Helpful Links

So What's Your 20 Mile March?

Let us know below......

FREE BOOK

CMB 021 : Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E. (Part 4)

CMB.podcast.cover3 This is the final installment of a series I'm calling Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E. - My Father's Acronym for Daily Discipline That Sticks

Do you want to grow in your productivity?

Who doesn't? Being productive and "on the ball" is necessary for feeling less stressed and anxious about things. Your ideas, your desires, and your creativity depend on it.

This series has been all about understanding the true nature of discipline, organization, and simplification. The result? Being energized for more of the same, each and every day.

Listen to or download the podcast here, and check out the detailed show notes below....

[powerpress]

D.O.S.E.

Here are the links to the other parts of this series:

Discipline

Consistent discipline starts with a compelling vision... (CMB 018)

Organize

Organization is NOT a personality issue, it's a wisdom issue... (CMB 019)

Simplify

Less is more, so cut the clutter... (CMB 020)

Energize

The reward: an energized sense of purpose... (listen above!)

Items Mentioned:

Song Search

Let's get behind each other in this song contest. It ends this coming Wednesday at midnight (GMT). I would love to see a push for the songs that are lower in the rankings. Check out the songs by the other CMB-ites here. Follow the leader board here.

How's it going?

Seriously... Let us know in the comments!

   

CMB 020 : Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E. (Part 3)

CMB.podcast.cover3 Crazy that we’re at number 20. Time just keeps on moving! We have a shorter episode today, but a lot to mention. Here are the four main things talked about.

  • Big Launch Giveaway winner, contests, and a look at biblical competition
  • Audience Building
  • Discovering New Music Segment with Stephen Bradley
  • Part 3 of our productivity series

The winner of the Big Launch Giveaway

We launched the site on June 15th and to help get it going, we did what we called the Big Launch Giveaway. There were over 800 entries. Awesome! People were tweeting about the site, signing up, and spreading the word... But you know what’s more exciting than that?

A very fortunate winner will receive a $200 gift certificate to sweetwater.com to go towards their music making journey. And that to me is awesome.

Listen to or download the podcast here, and check out the detailed show notes below....

[powerpress]

So I don’t wanna leave you hanging... So the winner of the Big Launch Giveaway is Chris Etling.

Congrats Chris!

We’ll be doing more giveaways... Primarily through our e-mail list, so make sure you sign up for our newsletter and you won't miss out on exclusive giveaways and prizes. There's an opt in form below this post.

Another contest going on currently, not at CMB, but at weareworship.com, is a songwriting contest that a handful of CMB-ites have signed up for, including myself.

WeAreWorship is looking for a song, born in the local church. A song that is not only one born out of a worshiper's heart, but one that is born out of a worshiping community. A song serving the local church.

Here's a link to a recent blog post about the song contest with a list of CMB-ites submitted their music.

A word on contests, and competitions...

Is competition biblical?

I was talking with someone about that this week. Can Christians enter contests like this?

I believe the answer is yes. I wouldn’t encourage you to enter it if I thought there was something ungodly about contests.

The issue isn’t competition. The issue is our heart. What’s the motive? Why do you want to win? Do you want to win too much? What lengths will you go to win in a game or a sports match? Will you cheat? Will you steal? Will you get mad and start a fight?

Those are the things people often think about when it comes to really competitive people. Here's the issue: Not the competition itself, but the character of those involved. The world looks at competition completely differently than God does.

The devil does not create. The devil only perverts! God has created a world that has in it work and reward. God’s economics are not socialism. He gives the gifts he wants, in the measure he wants, to the people he wants - and he asks them to be faithful with them. To work at them. To become better at them.

Think of Paul who uses the runner as a metaphor. The runner competes in such a way to win the prize. But the runner should be one of integrity; not pushing down others around him in order to win, but simply doing his very best with what God has given him. The runner still wants to win! He runs in such a way to win the prize. He does his best.

That is good, healthy, Biblical competition...

...And here’s the thing:

It glorifies God when you see people in a contest who honor and respect each other.

Audience Building

As a practical example of what artists can do to promote their song in a contest like this, you can check out a landing page that I created at my personal site where I’m giving away a chord chart and mp3 for Glorious God.

It’s the song I entered, and that’s one way that I’m getting the word out... Head over to this page and you can download a free mp3 and chord chart of the song.

The reason I say this, is because this is something we will talk about a lot at CMB. How musicians and artists can grow in their understanding of building an audience through blogging and online inbound content marketing. That’s certainly something I’m passionate about helping artists learn more about...

More on that later...

Discover New Music Segment

We love what Stephen Bradley is doing at his blog thegoodchristianmusicblog.com. He's got an exciting thing coming out soon at his site: The GCM Summer Mix Tape. The very first of many more to come, that are playlists of artists that have recently been promoted through Stephen's unique YouTube viral video method.

The new mixtape will feature several artists including several who have been featured on his blog. It will be released on Tuesday, July 23rd! Visit his website to download it on Tuesday for free.

Here the three artists that he mentioned in this episode and their websites:

Artists! If you want to submit your music to Stephen and GCM, you can check out his submissions link at his blog here. It's important to know, however, that he can't take all submissions. He gets a very large amount.

Follow Stephen on Twitter here. Follow GCM on Twitter here. Here's the GCM Facebook page.

Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E.(Part 3)

The D was discipline. O was organization... and today we’re looking at the S in the acronym, talking about simplification.

We’ve talked about the importance of having vision in your life. How a compelling vision fuels and sustains your discipline. We’ve talked about how we’ll need wisdom in order to better understand what good organization truly is. That organization is not primariy a personality issue, but a wisdom issue.

And so to wrap things up in this episode, I simply want to leave you with just one thought on simplification...

It’s not a new insight that has come from me. It’s something everyone has probably said a few times in their life. It’s this: Less is more, so cut the clutter.

Less is more.

You’re gonna have more time. More resources. More impact in your musicianship even, when you cut things out. You’re gonna be more effective for the Kingdom, you’re going to have clearer thinking in your decision making, you’re going to write better songs and make better music.

If two guitar guys were standing in front of me; one had super fast, technical chops, just causing smoke to come off the fret board. The other guy lays down a simple tick-tack groove that’s in the pocket with tone that’s amazingly seasoned. Who do you think I’m gonna be more moved by?

Who do you think would be asked to play more by producers and artists on their records?

The dude who cut the clutter.

To give you a little take-away I wanna ask you to do something...

What’s one thing this week that you can cut out of your life?

I’ll give you a personal example. I do not watch the news. I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t listen to news radio. I do my very best to have a low information diet. I only read a few blogs, and listen to a few podcasts. I don’t have the time anymore anyway, but at one point I realized I had to cut it out to get more back. Less is more.

What is it for you? Pick one thing. After you pick that you can move on to other things that are probably cluttering your life too, but for now just think of one thing that you can cut out of your life.

Let us know in comments!

CMB 019 : Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E. (Part 2)

CMB.podcast.cover3 The feature segment of this week's episode is part two of the new series, Fuel Your Productivity with D.O.S.E. (Part 2)

Do you know how many times I've made excuses for my disorganization? And how often I blame my personality?

Organization is not a personality issue, it's a wisdom issue.

I used to really envy highly organized people. I used to think that I needed a different personality, and a different soul structure all together to be as organized as I wanted to be.

I loved the thought of being organized.

Being on top of everything, having it all together. Having everything accounted for, every e-mail replied to and processed. Every dollar tracked down perfectly and under budget. My instruments maintained perfectly. Batteries replaced on time, fresh guitar strings on a regular basis, my schedule flowing like a well oiled machine...

You can relate right?

Who out there actually enjoys being scattered and stressed out? None of us like the idea of running around like headless chickens do we?

Listen to or download the podcast here, and check out the detailed show notes below....

[powerpress]

We long to be more organized because we intuitively know that we’ll have more time, more resources, and more motivation to get to work and be more productive.

I think often, we wrongly associate organization with personalty types.

Here's my definition of organization...

Organization: A collection of previously thought about ideas that help a system or process run more smoothly...

Good ideas are all rooted in wisdom.

Organization is not a personality issue, it's a wisdom issue.

In this episode, I tell you what the Bible says about this, why it's important, and what to do about it. I ask you to think about the area in your life where you're the most disorganized. I then ask you to think of someone you know of who's really wise and knowledgeable in that area. Chances are, they're very organized in that area too.

Learn from them. Ask them questions. Adopt their systems and tools for organization.

He who walks with the wise will be wise... Proverbs 13:20

Tools I Use To Stay Organized

These were note mentioned in the podcast, but I use these tools every day...

  • Mailbox (for iOS) This is a fantastic approach to staying on top of e-mail.
  • Evernote - THE BEST for note taking, and never forgetting anything.
  • YNAB - A fresh look at tracking your money and keeping a budget
  • Google Drive - Word docs, Spreadsheets, and anything you need stored online
  • 30/30 - A great time management app that keeps you task. Very helpful!

Evernote Songwriting Method

If you've been around CMB at all, you've heard about this. This is a great way to use Evernote (as mentioned above) for your songwriting. Never forget your ideas, and constantly sit down to write with inspiration waiting on you. Not the other way around...

Other Items Mentioned

 

THOUGHTS? Let us know below!