I’ve just finished reading How To Get Unstuck: Breaking Free from Barriers to your Productivity by Matt Perman. I previously read his book What’s Best Next and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one – and it didn’t disappoint! Now, heaps of books have been written on productivity – and that’s an understatement – so why is this one worth reading?
Well, if you’ve already read of lot of books on productivity, How To Get Unstuck is great because it harnesses insights from some of the best thinkers in the field, brings them together and builds on them from a distinctively Christian perspective.
Perman is explicit about the fact that he has learnt from the best secular thinking and research on productivity, since all truth is God’s truth. And he then builds on that, drawing from his own experience and also showing how biblical principles have a lot to add to help us be truly effective in our work.
So if you’ve read a lot of literature in this field already, you’ll find this both a helpful consolidation and a unique contribution.
If on the other hand you haven’t read a lot of books on productivity, How To Get Unstuck is really helpful because it’s a great introduction to the field. It’s like a springboard into the vast sea of productivity & leadership literature. So if you read his chapter on casting a vision (or deep work, or personal effectiveness, or whatever) and want to learn more on that topic, he gives you recommended resources for further reading so you know where to go.
So whether you’ve read a lot in this field or nothing at all (I’m somewhere in the middle), you’ll find this book really helpful.
Not Just Efficiency, But Effectiveness
A huge strength of How To Get Unstuck is that it’s not just about efficiency, but effectiveness. You can be efficient without being effective. If you’re very efficient at doing unimportant tasks that don’t add much to your business, you’re not being all that effective. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you’re going in the wrong direction!
The subtitle of the book is ‘Breaking Free from Barriers to your Productivity’, which made me think it would be mostly about how to overcome the many things that pop up in our working lives that make it harder to be productive – distractions, procrastinations, inefficiencies, and so on. But that’s not mainly what this book is about. There is a section of the book (part 4) that deals specifically with common barriers to productivity (i.e. efficiency), but the majority of the book (parts 1 to 3) is about the bigger picture of becoming more effective: setting a vision, establishing priorities, growing as a leader, cultivating character, knowing what’s important, and so on.
This is a real strength.
Perman rightly recognises that if we want to be truly effective, it’s not enough to just become a little bit more efficient at what we already do – because we might not be doing the most important things. So this book isn’t about just getting more efficient at doing things – although it definitely does help with that – but also about knowing what’s most important and being truly effective, so that our lives and work have a bigger impact.
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book for the purposes of reviewing, but was under no obligation to give a positive review. I genuinely recommend this book!