If you are not productive in your personal life, you cannot be a motivator of productivity in anyone else’s life either. A family is only as productive as each of its individual members. Likewise a community, whether civil or ecclesiastic, is only as productive as its members are concerned.
Each of us must properly redeem the hours of our lives to be productive. Productivity presupposes that there is a goal or goals set in order to measure whether or not you have been productive. If you do not have a goal you cannot possible know whether or not you have achieved anything. And so, particular goals should be set. They should be set daily, weekly, monthly , yearly even for five or ten years into the future, if God permits.
I set a reading goal at the start of each year, usually on New Year’s Day. I clear a book shelf in my office and place 10-20 books on it that I hope to read through during that year. The reading agenda is flexible so that if there is another book that needs to be added I simply either add it, replace an existing book with the new one, or simply move the new book to the front of the line of the other books. If I don’t complete the reading agenda within the year I then re-evaluate the remaining books and move them to the next year or remove them altogether and start afresh.
For my daily agenda I list everything that I need to accomplish that day. There will always be things in that day that I must attend to without fail and things that can wait for another day. I always leave room for God’s providence. He is the real agenda setter. Whenever I fail to accomplish what I have set out to do, for whatever reason, I put them onto the next day. I am careful not to become too disappointed or frustrated by what was not accomplished only encouraged by what was accomplished. This attitude is important since it keeps me focused on what needs to be done by not looking back and lamenting what could have been done but wasn’t.
Remember the rule: Being busy is not necessarily being productive.
Productive Pitfalls & Perks: the Do’s and Don’ts
There are a number of things that should be avoided if you are trying to become more productive.
1. A Daily Log
Never begin your day without writing down everything that you are trying to accomplish. Pray about your plans for the day and ask God to guide you through your agenda. I use a date book calendar to log everything that needs to be done in written form. If I try to remember everything that has to be done I will not be able to get anything done since my mind is cluttered with an agenda list. Get your agenda out of your head and onto paper. Refer to it throughout the day. After you complete one task, check the list and go to the next, and so on.
2. Remove Competed Tasks
Cross things off as they are completed is important. Keep a log of what was done so that you can measure your daily productivity. This will give you a sense of accomplishment. It is merely psychological but I find it helpful.
3. Stop Blaming
Stop blaming others or situations for your lack of productivity. No one is responsible for your lack of focus. As far as situations cropping up which require your immediate attention, this is God’s way of keeping you on your feet. Bow to His providence. Attend to it then get up and get back to your plan. All too often God’s providential orchestration of what we think are “glitches” in our agenda is actually God telling us to remedy our agenda to get it more in step with His. Situations which arise should be considered moments of reflection and pause before we go headlong into our plan. Be careful to take time to reconsider where you are headed. Consult with faithful brethren when you are in doubt. Continue to study the Scriptures.
4. Don’t Brag
We have nothing to brag about even if we have accomplished great and wonderful things. Bragging is the road to Divine chastisement. Bragging also alienates others and labels you a proud and arrogant individual seeking pre-eminence. If we are productive it is because God has seen fit to use us for the advancement of His Kingdom. We serve at His pleasure and it is He Who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
5. Stop Whining
Cowboy up! If you have had a bad day get over it. If you have failed in meeting your agenda’s deadlines re-group and get to it the next day. Complaining is never productive. In fact it hinders productivity. Whining not only makes you feel worse it proves to others that you are not the leader that you make yourself out to be. Complaining also shows others that you are seeking pity. This is not a position of strength. If there is a legitimate complaint, make it. Don’t whine about it. Put the effort you take in whining to something productive.
6. Sleep In
There are times when I must turn off my alarm clock, roll over and go back to sleep simply because I am still exhausted and unable to rouse myself. As long as this is not a habitual pattern it may be that you need to extra rest. Our bodies need sleep especially when we are worn out by being very productive. Listen to your body. Be sure to get the proper rest needed to tackle the events of the day. Go to bed early. Don’t stay up very late. Your mind and body will thank you for it and you will become the productive Christian God has called you to be.
Leonardo DaVince took one day every week just to sit and to think. Relaxation stimulates creativiety and focus. You may not be able to take an entire day for this but you can take an hour each day to sit back and regroup. Since the Lord’s Day is the day of rest it may be wise to use it to rethink and refocus upon the things of God and your role in the advancement of His Kingdom. However, it wouldn’t hurt to take an hour per day to refocus and innovate.
8. Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise is also important. Eating properly and abstaining from an excess of coffee, sugar and simple carbohydrates can act to invigorate the psyche. Too much of these substances slow down the metabolism making you lethargic and unable to think clearly. These foods cloud your mind and dull the senses since these foods tend to make the body tired. In association with a proper diet, walking, jogging or a bi-weekly visit to the gym is also very invigorating and physiologically raises the metabolism required to become more productive.
The goal: Live two lifetimes in the span of one and through it advance the Kingdom of God by establishing the Crown Rights of Christ the King.