Productive Enjoyment
5 min read

Productive Enjoyment

Issue #31: Pacing yourself, bitcoin, getting fat on bad ideas, the intimacy of algorithms, productivity culture, journaling, how long does it take to read 300 pages?, and more.
Productive Enjoyment

Read time: 5 minutes

Welcome to another edition of the Roundup!

Here's something I've been thinking about:

Having little kids offers a unique vantage point for observing the passage of time.

We've got a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. And people never tire of reminding us of how fast they are growing up, that these times are precious, and that they'll be over before we know it.

No pressure.

But it truly is amazing, although tinged with sadness, to observe how quickly each phase of a child's life gives way to the next. And I've discovered the rapid growth of children provides a sort of measuring rod for how I'm spending my own time.

Last year this time, Watson was crawling and didn't know a lick of English. Now he's bouncing off the walls and educating me about Thomas the Tank Engine and the finer points of train life on the Island of Sodor.

It makes me ask myself, what was I doing a year ago? How much progress have I made on my goals in that time?

This was brought into focus last weekend when my wife and I were able to get away for a couple of days to a quaint rural town in Michigan's Irish Hills. It was a chance to slow down and reflect on the overall pace of life. How good is my balance between being "productive" and savoring these precious moments of life?

I was reminded of a quote by E.B. White who wrote,

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

I don't want to be so consumed with progress and productivity that I miss out on the precious and fleeting moments with my family. But it's also unrealistic to think I could entirely forget about work, my duties, and my goals.

It's a tough balance.

One thing that encourages me, however, is that for the Christian even enjoyment is a type of productivity. If our measure of productivity is how well we glorify God, then it's worth noting that God is glorified not just through work but through worship. If we can eat and drink to God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), we can enjoy our kids to His glory as well.

And often that's the most productive way to spend an afternoon.

✨What's New

I doubled down on some of the ideas from my recent podcast episode Curating Your Information Diet and wrote Getting Fat on Bad Ideas: How to Manage Your Online Information Diet (5 mins) on For the Gospel.

It includes a rather extensive buffet analogy that I think you'll enjoy 😆

Also, check out this week's episode of Redeeming Productivity, My Beef with Getting Things Done and David Allen (22 mins).

The title is a little tongue-in-cheek, but I share some of the ways I think we can go wrong when seeking to appropriate the teachings from one popular book on personal productivity.

By the way, the Redeeming Productivity Show is my weekly podcast on a biblical approach to personal development and productivity. Subscribe on your favorite platform so you don't miss future episodes.

🧑‍💻The Roundup

The Insidious, Fake Intimacy of Algorithms (4 mins)

This was a convicting piece by Chris Martin.

Many of us have deeper relationships with the algorithms than with the people in our churches. This is not surprising. When we spend more time tapping on our screens than we do talking with our friends, our algorithms will know us better than our loved ones do.”

By the way, Chris’s newsletter, Terms of Service, is one of my favorites. It’s full of thoughtful commentary on internet culture and social media trends from a Christian perspective.

(Chris Martin / The Gospel Coalition)

Five Minute Journal - Daily Journaling Techniques and Tips (5 mins)

A short piece on a simple technique to help you get into consistent journaling.

I've always struggled to journal consistently by opening a blank page and writing a stream of consciousness. My new method is inspired by the "Five Minute Journal" approach, which is to spend just five minutes writing a few bullet points in response to some prompts first thing in the morning. This simple, quick habit provides a lot of benefits in just a few minutes a day and is a good base to build a writing habit on.”

(Brian Sunter)

The Rest Beyond Our Reach: Finding Refreshment in a Burnout Culture (5 mins)

“In our world that prizes productivity over stillness, rest seems an alluring but ever-elusive gift. A startling number of Americans struggle with sleep deprivation, and more than half of American employees report symptoms of workplace burnout.”

(Kathryn Butler / Desiring God)

The Frustration with Productivity Culture (9 mins)

I’ve really been enjoying Cal Newport’s column in The New Yorker. I've been sinking my teeth into a lot of his ideas lately since we're reading his book Deep Work as part of the Redeeming Productivity Academy book club.

“We should strive to be good at our jobs—to work deeply, to be reliable, to lead with vision. But, if our employers need more output for each unit of input they employ, we should be more comfortable in replying that, although we understand their predicament, solving it is not really our problem.”

(Cal Newport / The New Yorker)

The Ministry of Being a Little Bit Further Along (2 mins)

You are more qualified than you think to help people in your church.

“There is a place in the church and a place in life for expertise and formal training. But there is a much wider place for simple commitment and involvement. The great majority of the help people need as they navigate life’s trials, the great bulk of the counsel people seek as they encounter life’s questions, does not require the input of experts, but merely the attention of someone who knows God and who knows his Word.“

(Tim Challies)

How Long Does It Take to Read 300 Pages? (3 mins)

“Answer: It takes about 5 hours 31 minutes to read 300 pages of a book (assuming 275 words per page and an average reading speed of between 238 and 260 words per minute).”

When I was building my morning routines course, POWER Mornings, I was trying to figure out the average reading speed for the modules on Bible reading and personal development. Turns out there's a surprisingly wide range of opinions on something as simple as how long it should take to read a book. This article goes into the details of how they arrived at 5.5 hours to read a 300-page book. It's helpful information for estimating how much reading you can reasonably get through.

(Arthur Worsley / The Art of Living)

👍Something I Like

One of my private hobby horses is thinking about technology and the future of the church. Over the past few years, blockchain and cryptocurrency have occupied a lot of my reading on that subject. But I've been disheartened to find so few Christians writing on what seems to me to be a rather important topic.

So, I was pleased when someone recently recommended I read Thank God for Bitcoin by Jimmy Song, et al.

It's a fascinating little book that seeks to bring a Christian perspective to the history of monetary systems and make a case that Bitcoin presents a "more moral money."

It's less about technology and more about economics. And you might not agree with all of the conclusions. But if you're someone who is even mildly interested in the hubbub about cryptocurrency, I think you'll enjoy this read.

⌛️That’s All for this Week

Thanks for reading!

If you're enjoying the newsletter, share it with a friend. And as always, you can just hit reply to send me a message.

And if you're wanting to be more productive God's way but don't know where to start, check out POWER Mornings, my course on morning routines for productive Christians.

See you next week!

– Reagan