The Problem With the Way Most of Us Work

For most of us, our priorities are dictated by the most urgent crisis that needs fixed.

  • The car won’t start.
  • The washer is broken.
  • My boss needs a report by the end of the day.
  • My taxes are due tomorrow.

For many of us who are knowledge workers,1 our email inboxes and message notifications often dictate our schedules, our priorities, and what we’re going to achieve for the day.

Stephen Covey broadly popularized an idea originally attributed to president Dwight Eisenhower. It’s a matrix of the and the important.

Urgent imporant

Quadrants 1 and 3 is where many of us spend most of our time–dealing with problems that need fixed immediately and then bouncing from that do dealing with unimportant problems that someone thinks also needs solved immediately.  … 

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  1. That is to say, basically anyone who does anything other than physical, manual labor, but many of them likely experience this in some ways as well

Washing the Outside, Ignoring the Inside

I just took our car in for preventative maintenance–an oil change, a few filters swapped, a new belt, checking brake pads, a thorough overview that I can’t do on my own.

Our car isn’t new, but when I wash it and clean it, it looks really nice. But no matter how much attention I pay to the body of the car, it won’t change the way the engine runs. It can look great on the outside and be a complete mess under the hood. No number of car washes can make the car run correctly. So diagnostics and maintenance are required.

The same goes for our health. People can look fit and trim, have impressively-low body fat and still have cancer or any number of destructive internal diseases that can’t be diagnosed by a mere outward glance. So medical checkups are necessary.


Everything may appear just fine from the outside. Our kids can be well-behaved, our smiles plastered on in every picture, but simultaneously relationships can be full of bitterness, debt piling up, and sin eating away from the inside out. A soul checkup is in order.

Jesus summed this all up quite nicely in response to a Pharisee’s question about hand washing and ritual cleanliness.

“You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”
–Matthew 23:26

No amount of exterior cleaning can fix the cleaning that needs to take place inside. No amount of behavior modification can do away with the consequences of sin. No exterior manipulation will take care of the inner problem.

Things may appear fine on the outside, but the inside is what matters. A shiny car with a broken engine is of no use.

We need to seek a checkup with the Lord, to ask him to examine our hearts, to put them in the right place. We need forgiveness of sins no amount of going to church or leading Bible studies can fix. We need to drink deeply from the well of forgiveness of Jesus Christ for our internal self to be made right with God.

Don’t just polish the outside of the cup. Go deeper, check the inside, because that’s what really matters.

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Making the Facebook News Feed Better with Unfollowing

Facebook is only as useful as the information it provides.

Unfortunately, the default settings for the world’s largest social network intends to show posts from every person and page you follow (and a bunch that you don’t thanks to ads). That’s a nightmare.

Thankfully, you’ve got options for tailoring your timeline so you don’t have to give up on it all together.1


Facebook has an interesting dilemma–the more posts they show, the more likely you are to return. However, if they only show you crap you don’t give a hoot about, you’ll give up. So, they have to make it so you can tweak what you see, but not so much that they can’t sell ad space. This is the problem of being a product instead of buying a product.

Before we start, you may be asking, “Why don’t I just unfriend or unfollow this person or page?” Well, maybe that’s what you should do, but if you’re scared of being viewed as mean, rude, or malicious, I’m helping provide a less intimidating option … 

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  1. Unless you want to, and in that case, you’ve got my utmost respect.

Why Words Matter

We live in a strange time where written word has surged again in importance. Communication has looped from spoken word to historical scriptures to public lectures to the printing press, newspapers and periodicals to radio, TV, the Internet, email, and text messaging. Some days, (perhaps most for some of us), we communicate more with typed text than we do with spoken word.

Words are just as important as ever.

Jokes don’t come through as clearly in text, tone is uncertain, and ambiguity reigns, especially if you try to communicate without the use of parenthetical emotional explanation or a few emoji.

I’ve experienced the frustration of not having the right word frequently lately. When you’re trying to explain something in a new language, your ability to communicate is greatly hindered by your lack of vocabulary. Stories aren’t quite as funny without the right word. Meaning is muddled without the same accuracy as before. Polished statements are nearly impossible and poignancy is checked at the door of a fresh non-native tongue.

I’ve been percolating on the importance of words for a while, and, well, I think, with some help, I’ve finally got a clearer picture of why these arrangements of letters are so critical.

Words carry meaning > meaning forms thoughts > thoughts determine belief > belief leads to action. Here’s what I mean.


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5 Keys to Sticking to a Budget for the Long Haul

Sticking to a plan is hard for me. I don’t like to be boxed in or have limited options. But one thing I’ve successfully stuck to in the last three and a half years is a budget. Three years isn’t exactly a “long haul” but in terms of budgeting, that’s just shy of an eternity.

Last year I highlighted my favorite app for budgeting, YNAB. I can’t imagine not using it, and I wouldn’t dream of switching to anything else at this point. It’s a perfect blend of ease, features, and delight. I still whole-heartedly recommend it as the hands-down-best-budgeting app.

Sticky-BudgetSticking to a budget. Bad, I know.

But a fancy app does not a budget make. You can have the best app in the world, but if you don’t have the desire and discipline to take control of your cash, it’s not going to happen.

Here are my five keys to sticking with a budget over the long haul. … 

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