Daily Gleanings: Insights from Freedom (24 June 2019)

Freedom releases Insight for Chrome. According to Freedom, Insight

is a simple plugin that shows you where you are spending your time in Chrome.

Insight tracks the time you spend on websites in Chrome, and provides a simple display so you can see where you’re spending your time. You can drill down into individual sites and see your daily time on each site.…

We’ve built Insight to be privacy-conscious. All of the tracking data is stored locally and not sent anywhere (the cloud, our servers, etc.). You can also disable tracking and hide sites, if you want to.

For more information or to try Insight, visit the Chrome Web Store.

The Freedom blog has a helpful essay on managing time (i.e., managing yourself in time) to cut through the clutter of distractions. The piece comments, in part,

Most people understand the importance of managing their time, but they’re thinking about it in the wrong way. They mistake efficiency or “busyness” for a sustainable time management strategy.

Getting things done is a crucial piece of time management — but it’s just one of many. In today’s age of infinite choices and distractions, deciding what not to do is just as important.

A solid time management strategy, then, is all about stacking the deck to make the right choices as often as possible.

Effective time management starts with a clear vision of your core goals and values. Racing through a dozen minor tasks might be less valuable than a single difficult one that’s more aligned with your vision. The question shifts from “How can I get the most done possible?” to “How can I have the most impact on what matters most?”

The essay also identifies four common productivity killers: decision fatigue, overwhelm, procrastination, and lack of efficiency. Others have made similar lists in the past. But a particularly helpful contribution Freedom makes with this piece is to structure time management strategies under each of these headings. So if you know a particular problem you have, it’s quite easy to read through the section on that problem for some ideas about how to start overcoming it.

For this outline and additional reflections from Freedom, see the original post.

Daily Gleanings (29 May 2019)

Freedom introduces Pause, a new Chrome extension that enforces a short pause before allowing you to open distracting websites. According to the extension’s description,

When loading a distracting website, Pause creates a gentle interruption by displaying a calming green screen.  After pausing for 5 seconds, you can then choose to continue to the site – or get back to work.  Leveraging behavioral science, the interruption created by Pause gently nudges you to make informed, intentional decisions about how you are spending your time.

Pause comes pre-seeded with a list of 50 top distracting websites, and you can add or remove sites from your Pause list.

Pause is apparently built to work in Chrome even if you don’t otherwise have an active Freedom subscription. For more information, see the Chrome web store.

Michael Kruger raises the question of the rootedness of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) in modern cultural realities, akin to what is often suggested by NPP proponents against readings of Paul in the tradition of the Reformers. The main body of the post helpfully leverages Barry Matlock’s “oft-overlooked academic article” entitled “Almost Cultural Studies? Reflections on the ‘New Perspective’ on Paul.” (See the original post for fuller bibliographic information on this essay.)

On both sides of this debate, I’m reminded of Gadamer’s observations that we, of course, always encounter the past under the influence of and as we are formed by “what is nearest to us.” But at the same time, this influence is not solely restrictive but enables our engagement with and productive knowledge of the past in particular ways.

On these themes, see “Hermeneutics and ‘the Near’” and “Tradition and Method.”

Daily Gleanings (1 May 2019)

With some recent update for Logos Bible Software, I’ve started noticing “corresponding annotation” notes. These are pulled in from one source (e.g., NA27) to the corresponding text in another (e.g., NA28).

This feature has been a hugely helpful addition to the platform. I’ve already rediscovered a number of notes that I’d forgotten about.

Kudos to the developers for making this excellent aid available.

Chris Bailey has a helpful TEDx talk on some basic practices to help improve focus.

Daily Gleanings (30 April 2019)

In episode 173 of the Minimalists’ podcast, the Minimalists discuss digital clutter with Cal Newport based on his new book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Portfolio, 2019).

The discussion focuses a good deal on the negative impact of social media on our ability to focus on the work and relationships that matter most.

Recently, I mentioned a short interview between Matt D’Avella and Greg McKeown. There are apparently at least two more forms of this interview.

The mid-length interview of about 30 minutes is also openly available on YouTube. It contains some useful additional reflections on the importance of margin and Greg’s suggestions for how to use margin as a criterion for deciding what opportunities to welcome into your life or not.

Daily Gleanings (29 April 2019)

The content of the Lead to Win podcast is somewhat slanted toward entrepreneurs and other business leaders. But the content is often directly applicable to life in the academy.

In that vein, they’ve had two episodes recently with some good advice on the topic of increasing focus and avoiding distraction:

I’ve lately been reading a good deal that I hadn’t yet from Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. Much as I’ve previously appreciated his scholarship, my gratitude for his careful, detailed reflection has only grown.

Among some of these reflections I’ve recently worked through are the following comments:

In both [1 Cor 6:15 and 8:12] ‘Christ’ is predicated, not of the historical Jesus, but also of the Christian community. This is unambiguous in 1 Cor 8:12 where ‘brethren’ and ‘Christ’ are interchangeable. It is also clear in ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so also is Christ’ (1 Cor 12:12). ‘Christ’ here can only mean the corporate body of Christ. Once this is recognized, the interpretation of many other texts is greatly simplified. ‘To be baptized into Christ’ (Gal 3:27; Rom 6:3) means to undergo the rite of initiation into the believing community.1

Murphy-O’Connor consistently resists any “mystical” undercurrent here. So he interprets “being [in] Christ” as simply Paul’s way of saying “being a Christian.”

I’m less persuaded that how Paul conceives of the incorporative role of the Messiah can ultimately be reduced simply to the kind of community membership that one might experience in a local rotary club. But Murphy-O’Connor’s caution is well taken.

On the possibility of more theologically loaded readings of this concept, see “The Christ of His Christ.”

  1. From the post-script added to his essay “Corinthian Slogans in 6:12–20” as republished in Keys Keys to First Corinthians: Revisiting the Major Issues (OUP, 2009), 28; italics original. 

Technology and Distraction

Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google, discusses at TED the interplay between technology, attention, and distraction.

For additional discussion of this TED talk, see Alexandra Dempsey’s post on the Freedom blog.

For additional discussion the significance of focus, the importance of guarding it, and a helpful tool to that end, see Focus—there’s an app for that. For more information or to try Freedom, see the Freedom website. For additional similar discussion and tools, see also timewellspent.io.