Beginning on January 1, I participated in Tim Challies’ Productivity Challenge. This involved reading his book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. This was an easy-to-read book, but I gained the most out of the first and the last chapter.
I am fairly organized. I already have systems in place that work for me: a paper planner that I refer to as “my brain,” a daily checklist on the fridge that tells me how to keep my house (fairly) clean, and a place for (almost) everything we own. I love labels, to-do lists, Sharpie markers, stickers, and office supplies. But last year, 2015, was rough, and everything was discombobulated by the time December ended. I figured jump starting my productivity in 2016 would be a good thing.
Challies begins his book by redefining “productivity,” and I found this to be the single most helpful part of the book. He runs through a series of Q & As, and adding in some well – exegeted Scripture, he defines productivity as “effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.”
I am not kidding when after reading that, at the end of the chapter one, I can easily say my life was revolutionized. I no longer see being productive as the sum total of my tasks and to-do lists. Being productive is serving others. So when my son wants me to play Legos? Yes! When he wants to cuddle on the couch and read books? Productive! When my husband asks for specific things for his lunchbox or at the grocery store or for meals? I am serving him for his good and the glory of God.
Completely an attitude shift, and one that totally changed my perspective.
Chapters two through four walk you through defining your roles and responsibilities in life. While I have done this countless times, this was the first time someone “gave me permission” to design individual mission statements for each role, instead of one overarching mission statement for my life. I also found great freedom in this exercise. I like taking off my homeschool mom tiara and putting on my ministry name tag to serve at different times; there are different missions there to accomplish – I *should* have different goals attached to each role.
The next four chapters deal with tools, and I have to be honest: I am not technically inclined when it comes to productivity tools. Challies recommends a series of technological tools to keep one organized and on track. I love my paper planner, and my “smart” phone is too old to download anymore apps. Theoretically, everything he suggests could be put on my desktop, but then I’m chained to my desk. There are principles in these chapters I can use, but as I said earlier, I already have the systems in place.
The final two chapters were also where I gained a lot: being consistent is encouraged (after all, nothing works long if not maintained), and excelling versus “just” serving. I can serve my son and my husband, my church and my homeschool community, or I can excel at those things by surprising them. This concept of “serve and surprise” is, well, awesome, I think. Purposely looking for ways to go above and beyond for those I love to excel at my roles in their lives?
If you are looking to spark your productivity this year, or inspire yourself to get organized, I highly recommend this book. I purchased it from Amazon from Challies’ website. It is a quick, easy read. I don’t know if he will run another productivity challenge, but the daily emails simply repeated info from the book. However, if he does, I also suggest signing up for those. The conversations on the Facebook page were enlightening and encouraging as well.
As always, no one is paying me to review this book. I get nothing, and there are no affiliate links. I just enjoyed this book, and thought you might, too!
Challies, Tim. Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. Minneapolis, MN: Cruciform Press, 2015.