Is time management and productivity important for Christians? Is it only for high-powered business people, or does God care how each person manages their time?
We should be concerned with how we spend our time because God is concerned with time management.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 illustrates how God expects us to make good use of the gifts He has given us, and time is one of those gifts.
Romans 14:12 says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God,” -including our time.
Not only is God concerned with how we spend our time, but He also gave directions on how to use our time wisely.
In Genesis 1:28 God instructed Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. We usually think of this in terms of procreation, but I believe God also intended for Adam and Eve to have fruitful lives.
There’s lots of advice out there on productivity and getting stuff done, but it usually involves “hustle” and driven-ness.
The worldly view of productivity is making more money, pleasing yourself, getting things done.
But the Christian view of productivity is serving and pleasing God.
How can you escape the driven-ness and be productive without the “hustle”?
If you win the morning, you win the day.
Jesus sets the example in Mark 1:35 – he went out early in the morning to a solitary place and prayed.
Putting God first is one of the most productive things I’ve ever done. Somehow I get more done in a day when I spend time with God first.
The Bible confirms this:
Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
After time with God, use the first hours of the day for the most important aspects of your life.
Typically, you have the largest store of energy in the morning and your brain is the sharpest then, so use this time wisely.
Let God be in charge of your day.
Frances Ridley Havergall said,
“Before you venture away from this quiet moment (with God), ask your King to take you wholly into His service; then place all the hours of this day quite simply at His disposal and ask Him to make and keep you ready to do just exactly what He appoints. Never mind about tomorrow; one day at a time is enough. Try it today, and see if it is not a day of strange, almost curious peace, so sweet that you will be only too thankful when tomorrow comes to ask Him to take it also.”
Learn to be sensitive to God’s promptings. Be willing to be flexible and led by God. He may want you to switch plans and put people first instead of getting your to-do list done (talking to myself here).
Jesus said in John 15:5 “Without Me, you can do nothing” – that is, without Him we can do nothing that really matters.
As long as we are led by God we will do what really matters – and that’s what really matters.
Putting God first and letting Him be in charge does not mean you shouldn’t think and plan. The Bible encourages planning and thinking ahead.
“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Proverbs 21:5
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” Proverbs 6:6-8
Know what needs to be done and what can be put off for another time. Create a to-do list and work through it by doing the most important things first.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:28-30
Plan your day, your week, your month. Stick to your daily schedule. Review each month to evaluate how you spent your time.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
I’m terrible at getting distracted and over the years I’ve learned to discipline myself and stay focused.
Here are some things that may distract you:
What to do about these distractions?
Turn off notifications on your phone. Have a set time to read emails and check social media. Politely tell people you’ll have to chat later.
Write down ideas in one place to come back to later. I have a “squirrel” list where I write down ideas and things I want to do – you know how squirrels run around gathering nuts – sometimes my ideas are all over the place and I run all over gathering them.
My squirrel list is a place to gather all my creative ideas, things I want to do, and things I need to do but are not yet on my official to-do list.
Not everything that is urgent is important.
Sometimes urgent things come up because other people have not done important things. Don’t take responsibility for other people’s lack of time management or planning. Don’t pick up other people’s slack. Allow them to fail if necessary so they can learn.
Have the conversation with that person if this kind of thing happens regularly. Get comfortable saying no.
Things that are urgent:
Things that are important:
Things that are neither urgent nor important:
Whether it’s cooking for your family, playing with your kids, fixing a broken water pipe or planning a new project, be all there.
Focus. Pay attention. Be mindful and present.
As James Clear says,
“Give each phase your full attention.”
The Bible encourages us to live with eternity in mind. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Don’t put tasks before people, and don’t put people before tasks.
Sometimes your priority may be people (if you’re task oriented), and sometimes your priority should be tasks (if you’re people oriented).
Knowing when to prioritise what is why you need to be in tune with God.
Be warned that productivity can turn into an idol if you let it.
Kalen Bruce says:
When we accomplish goals and complete simple tasks, endorphins are released in our brain that gives a sense of satisfaction. We can actually become addicted to that endorphin rush, which may be God’s natural way of motivating us, but if we start to idolize the “high” we get when we’re productive, we need to take a step back and reevaluate our priorities.
Be careful not to cross over into the worldly view of productivity which is all about making more money, getting more things done, being successful.
God’s view of productivity is different:
John 15 tells us that by abiding in Christ we will bear the right kind of fruit. When we let God be in charge of our lives we will be productive without driven-ness or pressure.
Psalm 39:4,5 “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
Colossians 4:5 “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”
Ephesians 5:15,16 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Redeeming the time means doing the best with what time you have right now.
Proverbs 31 is all about productivity. It’s good to be productive – but under God’s direction.
Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
Do More Better – Tim Challies
Getting Things Done – David Allen
Eat that Frog – Brian Tracy
How good are you at time management? Are you allowing God to be in charge of your time?