A Practical Guide to Productivity
Do you struggle to keep up with all the information coming your way? Do you sometimes feel that you have to sacrifice your devotional time, or time with your family, to get all your work done? Between appointments, obligations, and menial chores, it can be hard to keep everything organized, and make time for personal projects, tasks, and goals. Many people live within these parameters, and there seems to be no way out. I’ve been there too, but Do More Better brings encouraging news.
Despite the annoying title and 120 page count, Do More Better, by Tim Challies is a disproportionately robust book on the topic of productivity. Challies starts with foundational instruction, helping you recognize your purpose before giving you practical, tangible actions to take, stressing that the time thinking through these things will be well-spent. He’s right. Before telling you how to “get stuff done”, he walks you through things like identifying your own God-given abilities, obligations, responsibilities, and gifts; stating your mission for each area of responsibility; and learning several powerful tools to help you quantify what biblical productivity should look like in your own life.
In the first chapter he presents a short “Productivity Catechism” that investigates what we were made for and how we can fulfill our created purpose in everyday life. Productivity becomes a much simpler thing when you take your eyes off the world around you and focus on the truth, and conclude that productivity comes down to stewarding your time, gifts, and resources for the good of others and the glory of God. If I had stopped reading after just this first chapter, my perspective would have been radically improved, but I still would have been under-equipped, and under-informed.
Productivity becomes a much simpler thing when you take your eyes off the world around you and focus on the truth
When you get to the second half of the book, Challies begins showing you your tools. Your task manager, your calendar, and your information tool. He recommends apps that you can use on your computer and any mobile devices you have, but also gives alternatives for those who prefer to stick with paper. He unpacks the role each of these tools ought to have (don’t use your calendar to keep track of your tasks!), and how to use each one efficiently. Finally, he introduces the system he has used to keep his own varied responsibilities under control, showing how to use these three tools cohesively, and stay aware of what your most immediate obligations are, and how much time you have for other tasks and responsibilities in the meantime.
Challies describes the book as fast-paced, and I have to agree. The writing flows naturally and is easy to understand, whether you’re in the chapter on identifying your areas of responsibility, or the one on how to use Google Calendar efficiently. I read one chapter a day, and I think that was a perfect pace, though I could easily have read the whole thing in two days. Most chapters have at least one action for you to take by the end, immediately applying what you are learning. Though you may not see yourself needing a lesson in productivity, this book applies important principles to all of life in a way that all Christians would benefit from. It doesn’t just tell you how to work more efficiently, it helps deepen your theology of work, and self.
Personally, as an aspiring work-from-home writer and editor, this book sparked a breakthrough in how I saw myself and the tasks I do. When I struggle to see the value in what I do, and am tempted to be apathetic towards even my most passionate pursuits, I can remember that I am not working for my own glory, or worldly success, but that I am called to work in the presence of my Creator and Savior. Now when I’m feeling lost, I can click over to my task management app, and be reminded that I have responsibilities, and I have work to do, no matter how I feel about it, even if I see no value in it. This book has changed my life in the course of two weeks, and I expect to see long-lasting benefits from having read it.
I would encourage you, whether you work from home or just need help managing your time on the weekends and evenings, to give this book a try. It doesn’t focus on making you do more stuff. Rather, it helps you do what’s most important, within your means. Productivity, Challies points out, is about your family life, your church life, and your personal life, not just what you do in the workplace. If you are constantly having to choose between which essential things to neglect, reading this book will be a step in the right direction. It doesn’t take long to read, and the effects it will have on your life manifest quickly, if you follow through.
Published on 3 February, 2016. Last updated on