In addition to a number of topics like prayer, holiness, and Bible reading, productivity is a topic I need to constantly grow in.
While my overall productivity has increased greatly in the past several years, I need to be always growing and refining how I get things done. That’s why I’m glad Tim Challies wrote his new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity.
Tim Challies is just the man to write a book on productivity and tools, having blogged for an impressive (and Cal Ripken-like) streak of 4,427 consecutive days and counting while running Cruciform Press, being a family man, pastor, author, and speaker.
In this short book (and there’s something to be said about a short book on productivity), Challies first lays the biblical and theological foundation to productivity to help us know God’s perspective and our purpose. Here’s what he wants to accomplish with this book:
I don’t want you to do more stuff or take on more projects or complete more tasks. Not necessarily. I don’t want you to work longer hours or spend less time with your family and friends. I want you to do more good. I want you to do more of what matters most, and I want you to do it better. That’s what I want for myself as well.
He then makes it personal by challenging us to define responsibilities and mission, sharing personal examples of his responsibilities and a mission statements. The next four chapters focus on tools (the area I needed the most help) and shared the what, why, and how of three types of essential tools for productivity: task tools, scheduling tools, and information tools. These chapters are the most practical and share a detailed plan of how to implement each of the tools for the greatest gain. The most helpful part of the book for me was the focus on these tools—specifically the task tools. I realized that streamlining my post-it notes and digital to-do lists in an app like To-Doist or Things will sharpen my focus and help me avoid starting new projects and abandoning them before completion—something that only gets worse as I get busier. I plan to revisit several chapters in the future to rejigger my thoughts and systems so that bad habits don’t sneak back into my life and workflow.
“Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.” —Tim Challies’ definition of productivity
Reading Do More Better felt like taking a crash course with a productivity expert. It is also remarkably well-rounded for a 114 page book. But as one would expect, not every productivity-related topic could be addressed as thoroughly as possible. That’s why I hope Tim continues to write on productivity and continues to share how he uses the tools he mentioned. I also wouldn’t mind if he provided a guide on how to use Evernote to organize a large database of Bible study notes or shared tips for organizing a sermon illustration database with Evernote. (Hope you’re reading this, Tim! 😉 )
Do More Better may not be the most comprehensive book on Christian productivity (like Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next—see my review), but it may be the book that will do the most good in the shortest amount of time.
There aren’t many books I call a “Must Read”, but for those whose jobs and lives thrive on planning, organization, and execution of tasks, Do More Better is not only a “Must Read”, but also a “Must Implement” if you want to do more of what matters better.
Related Resource: Sign up for Tim Challies’ 10 Days of Productivity