Working from home sounds like the greatest thing ever when you don’t work from home. And don’t get me wrong, it is great. There’s nothing like waking up and walking down two flights of stairs (in your PJS no less) to get to the office. I especially appreciate this because I know what it’s like to drive an hour to work. I’m not complaining.
But working from home isn’t all sunshine and unicorns. And it isn’t for everyone. People who work from home have to be self-motivated. They have to be able to manage their time well. They need priorities. A plan.
Unfortunately, none of those things describe me.
I’m an easy-going, take-it-as-it-comes, wait-until-the-last minute kind of guy. You may know someone like me. Or, you may be someone like me.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t like the idea of productivity. I love the idea. I’ve just never been any good at turning the idea into anything other than an idea.
Tim Challies has written the perfect book for people like me. If you make your own schedule (whether you work from home or not) and feel like you could be more productive, don’t waste your time reading this review. Just buy the book. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and link to the book because honestly, you don’t need to waste time reading what I have to say. Instead, just start reading the book. You can thank me later.
Now, for those of you that aren’t fully convinced, let me explain what makes this book so good…
It’s Rooted in Truth
One of the things I love about this book – and you may completely disagree with me here – is the fact that Challies grounds his ideas in a biblical theology of work. If you aren’t a Christian, you may be turned off by this fact but I’d encourage you to take the time to listen (the book isn’t all that long anyway). According to Challies, “productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose.”
And what is our purpose? According to scripture, it’s to glorify God through good works. Challies examines this idea and, in so doing, reminds the reader that we are not our productivity. Whether I get 2 things done today, or 200 things, I still bear God’s image. My identity is not so bound up in what I do that I have to become a workaholic in order to truly be human. With that said, what I do does matter. I just need to have the right perspective.
As Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
And whether you’re a Christian or not, this truth is helpful. Life isn’t about putting checkmarks in boxes. It’s about doing the most good.
When we approach productivity from this perspective, it’s freeing. We don’t have to look at work as a chore – a list of things to ‘get done.’ Instead, we’re free to focus on building something – a better family, a better career, a better life.
Challies’ perspective reminds me of John Wesley’s encouragement to “do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
But does it work?
The System Works
As I’ve already said, I’m not a very productive person. If I’m left alone, entropy sets in. And entropy usually looks like a combination of Facebook, YouTube, and news websites. But Challies is so specific and his instructions are so simple that he makes productivity seem natural – even for someone like me.
And the system works. Or, it has been working for the past couple of weeks. And that’s really something for me. Normally, I find something new, do it for three days, and promptly return to my old ways. Old habits, as they say, die hard. But Challies has a system.
It’s a system that makes sense. And it’s easy. And the only necessary tools are free to anyone with an e-mail account and internet access. There’s no need to buy expensive planners or file folders. Challies’ whole system can be done with three apps: Google Calendar, ToDoist, and Evernote (I added Trello to my own personal mix of productivity apps for certain information).
Basically, this book brings the old adage ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ to bear on how we work. Google Calendar is for events. ToDoist is for tasks. Evernote is for information. But Challies doesn’t just say “download these apps and use them.” That would make for a very short book.
Instead, he guides you through the process of setting these apps up for maximum efficiency and then maintaining the system in the long term. One review I read described Challies as a ‘shepherd’ of productivity. I couldn’t agree more.
Reading this book is like sitting down with a close friend – a friend who has discovered the secret to being productive – and letting him explain his methods.
And his methods work.
If I Can Do It, Anyone Can
As I’ve already made clear (at least twice), I’m one of the least productive people I know when left to my own devices. But I’m genuinely getting more done now than I ever have in the past. I’m writing sermons earlier, praying more often, reading scripture with greater intensity than ever before. And I don’t say all that to brag on myself. Hardly! I say it because I want you to know that if you’ve ever struggled with being productive, there is an answer.
And its name is Do More Better.
Now stop reading this and go buy it.
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