Alex Watt

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Book Review: How to Get Unstuck

We’ve all been stuck before, in lots of different ways. How do you get out of the rut? What would that look like?

Matt Perman’s new book, How to Get Unstuck, is a great resource for answering both of these questions. I was happy to find that it is more than a collection of productivity tips–Perman begins by explaining what it means to be unstuck, based on 1 Corinthians 15:

Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

Being unstuck is really about flourishing, loving God and neighbor well. It is a generous state, not a selfish one–and once you are unstuck, you should help others without judgment!

I can’t do justice to this book in this short post, but I want to highlight a few important points.

Personal Effectiveness

As a Christian, Perman is especially concerned that we recover the idea of personal effectiveness as a force for good. The business world has spent far more time talking about effectiveness than the Christian world has, but given the importance of our mission we need to grow here!

Maybe the most important part of being effective is working on the right problems. Sometimes we think of efficiency as our greatest need, but this may be a premature optimization for many.1

Christians can learn from many effective role models throughout history. One of my favorite examples, also mentioned in the book, is William Wilberforce; he spent his life on the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners in England. That kind of focus is powerful, and somewhat unusual today.

Untaught Skills

I was surprised when Perman started getting into the nuts and bolts and noted that many of us are overwhelmed, not because of a lack of will, but because of a lack of skill. It is easy to think that people aren’t working hard enough when they are stuck, but work ethic is not always the problem.2

Productivity requires something more than just the decision to be productive… It requires building the capacity to be productive: the mind-set, skills, and tools. And these are not always taught so well.

This book teaches those skills.

Deep Work

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me is the importance of deep work. Apparently our capacity for deep work is probably only a few hours a day, so I am reevaluating my calendar to make sure I have uninterrupted time to work on the things that matter most.

There are lots of other helpful insights, though, and I picked up some good reading recommendations too.

Get Your Copy!

If you’re stuck or know someone who is, I highly recommend this book. If you pre-order soon, before the launch on May 1, you’ll also get some bonus chapters and a preview of Perman’s next book!

  1. This is a point Sam Altman made recently as well. 

  2. In fact, working too many hours can reduce the amount of work accomplished, and certainly reduces efficiency. Chapter 14 discusses the benefits of a hard end to your workday. 

Posted on 26 Apr 2018.