Stuck? A book review of "Unstuck"


We all get stuck in different ways, I confess I’m stuck right now!  Matt Perman’s new book “Unstuck” doesn’t promise that you will never get stuck again, but does offer lots of advice for what to do when you are stuck, and offers ways to avoid getting stuck in the first place.  

I had previously read and benefited from Matt’s book “What’s Best Next” and so was very happy to be sent an advance copy of “Unstuck” to read and review.  I have wanted to do book reviews on this blog for a long time, and the fact that I am now doing one is an example of the benefit of Matt’s book!

The book is broken into 4 parts:

  1. The Problem and the Principles: Foundations
  2. Personal Leadership: The Compass
  3. Personal Management: The Clock
  4. Special Obstacles: The Laser

What I loved about Unstuck was the other-person focus.   So often productivity becomes about me getting as much done as possible in as little time as possible, and while Matt has plenty of helpful practical advice, he helpfully helps us think about using our time to serve other people to the glory of God.  It’s not just about getting things done, but getting the right things done.

In part two Matt helps us try and work out what the right things are, the danger in life is that we just drift through without really thinking about what’s important, he writes:

doing things faster and more ‘in control’ will not suffice if you are going the wrong direction.

So Matt encourages his readers to think about what’s really important in life and set a vision, and challenges that if you are lacking motivation and passion in life, it may be that you are lacking vision.

I think I found part three the most helpful part of the book, this is when things got more practical. Here Matt talks about getting in the “zone”, this is the place where you are focussed on what you are doing and not distracted, and he speaks of “doing the work in a way that is relaxed and energizing, not hurried and exasperating.” Sounds great, and since reading the book and putting some of it into practice, I have experienced something of this. Matt speaks not just of managing not just your time but also your energy, the idea is to give your most important work the time of day when you have most energy and are least distracted, for me that’s 6am after a strong coffee! Do your creative work first and your reactive work second.  If you can fit in a few hours of deep work without distractions, you will be amazed at what you can get done. Matt goes into the science of deep work and distractions and it’s very helpful.

The final part of the book is aimed at targeting particular barriers to productivity.

I think my only criticism is that Matt recommends a huge number of books! But perhaps as I apply his principles and thinking over time I will have more time to read! Nevertheless, Matt has done more of the heavy lifting by digesting the books for us and sharing the wisdom.

I would recommend the book for anyone who gets stuck, especially knowledge workers, but there are also very helpful principles for those wanting to study well for their exams – especially the section on deep work.  Unstuck will help you to think through the big picture and serve others to the glory of God. Thanks Matt, I’m now unstuck!

For more see:

Order the book from Amazon here.