Do you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of tasks? Do you keep your nose to the grindstone and complete to-dos like a machine only to look up and find you’re failing to make the progress you want in the areas or projects that matter most?
If so, then you need to read Michael Hyatt’s latest book, Free to Focus. The volume doesn’t release until tomorrow, 9 April. But the author and Baker Publishing kindly included me in the group that received advance copies.
After reading the book, it seems like it will be incredibly helpful if you’re an emerging (or existing) biblical scholar who wants to improve at doing the kind of knowledge work that enables our craft. So, I’ve decided to review here what you can expect to find in the volume, as well as offer some of my own main takeaways from the book.
I’ve been following Hyatt’s reflections about productivity and related topics for some time now. So, it is with that prior context that I came to Free to Focus and its subtitle A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less.
As someone who deeply believes in the value of hard, focused work done consistently over time, “doing less” has somewhat negative connotations in the abstract. But given my prior experience with Hyatt’s thought on productivity, I suspected the substance of his proposal in Free to Focus wasn’t as gimmicky as the subtitle’s “more from less” promise might initially sound.1
And true to form, the book doesn’t disappoint on this front. Immediately in the introduction, it becomes immediately clear that Hyatt’s “doing less” mainly entails cutting out time wasters—or, more appropriately, focus diluters—that prevent us from giving our full attention to what is most important (13–24).
Such a diluter might be the excessive time you spend on email when you should be writing that conference paper or dissertation chapter. Or it might be the wandering of your mind back to a research project or a response you need to make to a colleague when you should be spending time being fully present with loved ones.
Whatever it is, if it’s keeping you from focusing fully on what’s most important in a given time and place, this is what Hyatt advocates putting into the dustbin of “doing less.”
Of course, knowing what’s most important isn’t always an easy question to answer. And Hyatt doesn’t presume to make it easy. But he does devote part 1 of the book to a fundamental activity that will help us discern what should get more of our attention and what should get less of it.
… And it’s with this that we’ll have to pick up next week. 🙂
For now, think about preordering the book if that’s something that’s feasible for you.
Comparatively speaking, it’s a pretty economically priced volume. And if you preorder or if you order before the end of the day Friday (12 April 2019), in addition to getting the book, you’ll also get several hundred dollars’ worth of additional bonus material.
Just place your order with Amazon or your preferred bookseller. Then go to the book’s website to input your order number and contact information for the bonus materials to be delivered.
After that, look forward to working through things as they start to arrive. And check back here next week when we’ll begin summarizing some of the key elements in the book and the productivity approach that Hyatt describes in it.
In what areas or for what projects do you need to be free to focus?
- This being said of course, the purpose of the outside of a book—subtitle included—is to pique your interest in seeing what’s on the inside. I should also acknowledge that creating titles that do this is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, whether it’s for a book project, a journal article, a blog post, or whatever. So, the fact that the subtitle falls a bit flat for me might actually be a good thing given the broader audience the volume is trying to reach. ↩
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