As we continue to make our way through Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014), we move into the fourth third main section of the book, called “Architect,” which treats the concept of creating “a flexible structure” in which to do our best work and be most productive.
Chapter 14 – “Setting Up Your Week” – begins this section and deals with the importance of working with a schedule. Once we have determined what things are most important to do in our lives, we need to work those things into the fabric of our lives “though simple structures and systems. This is the area of personal management – that is, the practice of putting the most important things first in your life” (p.193).
As he enters this subject, Perman emphasizes the importance of working from a “basic schedule” as opposed to drawing up lists. He provides four reasons for this:
- People work best from routines, not lists (or, be like George Washington).
- A basic schedule helps keep you from massive overload….
- A basic schedule enables you to integrate all of our roles.
- A basic schedule enables (rather than hinders) creative thinking.
Under #3 Perman has some good points about making time for family even with a very busy schedule. Here are his thoughts:
One of the best examples is the responsibility of spending time with your family. It might be tempting to say, ‘That is so obvious; it comes naturally and will happen on its own.’ In our generations past, this might have been so. But today, with our always-on society and our ability to work anywhere, anytime, it is easy for family routines to disappear. They are often crowded out by other demands despite our best intentions.
Hence, one important routine is to define specific, focused time in the week to be with your family. For me, this normally happens from 5:30 p.m. until bedtime every night. While I’m often with my family at other times as well, this gives me a mechanism to protect that time even when my action lists are spilling over.
Without a basic schedule in place, it is easy for certain roles and responsibilities to be crowded out of your week. Again, good intentions aren’t enough. As you begin to schedule your time, you’ll find that you can’t schedule a specific time for everything. You’ll also need to leave some room for spontaneity. But you will want to make sure your core responsibilities actually happen, and to do that you need to create time for them every week (pp.198-99).