rebelling against low expectations

7 Tips for the Unproductive Rebelutionary


As Christians, we are called to reflect the character of God.

In John 5:17 Jesus says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” Thus, we see that productivity is an aspect of God’s character.

In addition to all the commands we receive in the Bible and the exhortations to use our time well, the fact that our God is a productive, working God should motivate us to be productive and to embrace work as a way to imitate him.

Unfortunately, we all have trouble getting things done. I, for one, am an expert in unproductivity. Sometimes I’m just not motivated. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes, I don’t even know what my problem is.

But over time in my experience with unproductivity, I have found ways to oppose this dangerous monster. Here are seven tips that I use to stay productive.

1. Keep things clean

In general, having a clean, tidy, and peaceful room boosts my productivity. Keeping distractions minimal may keep you focused on your current project or assignment. Not to mention, for those of you living under your parents’ roof, they will probably appreciate not having to tell you to keep your room clean.

2. Simplify

As a musician, I struggle to practice enough. I’ve found that if I keep my music books on the stand and my viola out of its case, the task of practicing seems less daunting. Simplifying your tasks may reduce the amount of motivation and will-power needed to do the task.

3. Write things down

Do you sometimes come up with ideas or things to remember while you’re busy working? Keep a notebook, clipboard, or sticky notes around for when you come up with those ideas or things to remember. Empty your thoughts out onto the paper so that you can focus on what you’re working on at the moment rather than juggling several things in your mind at once.

4. Experience the Great Outdoors

Fresh air can provide fresh inspiration, fresh motivation, and a fresh perspective. If you’re overwhelmed or frustrated, go outside and breath in the air. Look at what a vast, beautiful world God has created (or if the current landscape isn’t the most beautiful, just stare up at the sky).

Spend a few moments pondering the infinite greatness of the God who says, “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.” Think about how this huge God is pleased with your work when you do it for his glory.

Then get back at it with the incentive you need to press on.

5. Plan the path to your destination

Start by identifying your goals. Next, plan out the steps that you will have to take in order to get there. See where you are right now, what you have left to do, and how what you’re doing right now is part of the path to reaching your goals. If you can remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing, it makes the doing a whole lot easier. You can even make yourself a list, and enjoy the satisfaction of each little check mark bringing you closer to the goal.

6. Make it enjoyable

Algebra is currently my worst nemesis, and not like the love-hate relationship of Perry the Platypus and Dr. Doofenschmirtz from the children’s TV show Phineas and Ferb. My relationship with algebra contains no love, only hate. Yet there is one thing that gets me through the endless equations and graphs: listening to music. How can you make your dreaded tasks a little less dreadful?

7. Make the most of your motivation

My motivation for certain things comes and goes. When it does come, I try to utilize that motivation. This is easier as a homeschooler. If I’m doing schoolwork but suddenly have the urge to practice viola or piano, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and practice. Ideally, sticking to a schedule is best to maximize your time, but during those times where the motivation runs dry, make the most of it while it’s there.

The warning here, though, is that you have to make sure you’re doing what needs to be done. If I practice music but don’t end up finishing my schoolwork for the day, then I can’t allow myself to pause school for music. Some people may need the structure of a schedule or may be bound to a schedule by teachers or employers, while other people may be able to accomplish more by being flexible. Make the most of your motivation however you can.

As someone who is prone to slacking off, James 4:17 is quite convicting:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Getting stuff done can be hard, but we shouldn’t use “hard” as an excuse to waste our lives. “Hard” should be a challenge, an opportunity to rely on God’s strength and press through for his glory. Let’s use the resources and time that God has given us to magnify his name.

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About the author

Olivia Morgan White

Olivia Morgan White is a Ministry & Leadership major at Bob Jones University. A nonfiction writer turned novelist, she writes to connect with fellow introverts/hobbits. Olivia hopes that by connecting with characters and worlds, her readers will be empowered to impact the world around them. You can find more of her writing at her website.


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  • Great article Olivia! These tips are practical, but really helpful as well. Number four is my favorite!

  • Great article Olivia! (Btw I am now the bju online learning but I use my biological name on there… I use what i prefer on here but I have the sam profile pic

    • Thank you Nicole! But okay, in all honesty, I’m not sure who you are… I haven’t been on the student blog a whole lot recently, so maybe you’ve changed your picture since I was last on? Sorry, I don’t have a great memory 😛

  • Thanks for the article, Olivia. I also like to listen to music while doing my math, which I also hate (but not as much as I used to). 🙂

    • And thank you for reading! Sometimes, if I’ve got some good music and I actually understand my math, I even almost start to enjoy it… 😮 But most of the time I’m completely lost and don’t know what to do XD So yes, tip number 6 is quite an important one to me! 😛

    • Thanks for reading, Bekah! It is really encouraging as a writer when people don’t just say “sure, that was pretty good” and walk away, but actually get something out of the piece.

  • Yeah I can testify on #4. I don’t get out much, but I went out to a garden yesterday and it really aligned me with God in a way I couldn’t find in my house. Nature is awesome!

    • What state do you live in? (If you don’t feel comfortable telling, that’s fine) Your post reminded me of a garden in Washington that I saw on a documentary. It was called Back to Eden gardening.

      • Well, I don’t live in Washington :).
        Yeah it’s a great garden (I think it’s supported by the city), I haven’t ever appreciated it like I did that day.

  • I knew this was probably your article Olivia, when you mentioned viola and hating algebra! 😉 All great tips–thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’m homeschooled as well, and with the summer just starting, (although I am involved in many wholesome, fun, productive activities) the temptation to be lazy and waste time will be weighing on me. But this article has inspired me to press on!

    • As a home schooler who has gotten behind, I’m still doing schoolwork, and so I sorta completely forget that most people are on summer break! Summer does present such a huge easy-to-give-into temptation for laziness, and there isn’t nearly as much expected of young people as in the school year. But I’m glad this article could be of inspiration, whether in school or break 😀

  • I need these things in my life!!! Good grief Olivia you read my mind. Every single one of these tips I need to apply to my life. Honestly, #3 would have been extremely helpful today. Thank you for writing and sharing your wisdom with us Olivia! 🙂

    • Well, friends are supposed to know each other well right? 😉 Pretty sure I didn’t read your mind though, cause that’s a bit beyond my capabilities. 😛

  • Great article! I really needed that right now! It’s 10:04 pm right now, and I am trying to stay awake to make tea for the farmers market this Saturday. I should have and could have done that earlier today, but I got distracted for a couple hours trying to figure out how to make homemade charcoal. I need to learn to prioritize!

    I really wasn’t motivated today though, so now I have some ideas for the future!

      • Yeah, that’s what I thought. I spent some more time on it today and failed. Oh well! I did figure out how to make barbecue wood chucks out of cedar wood. We made hamburgers on the grill with them and the burgers tasted great!
        Look up on google how to make a smoked pizza.

        • Dude you have to put fresh slices of mozzarella on a pizza if your smoking it. Smoked mozzarella cheese taste amazing

  • Great article, Olivia!

    We so often forget how everyday tasks (that aren’t reading the Bible, praying, etc.) can be used for God’s glory, as long as we use the gift to lead us to the Giver. However, as Christians, everything we do should be worship. Even algebra can be worship – when you come across a tough concept, you can be even more amazed by the God Who created that concept. Excellent tips – thanks for sharing!

  • Great suggestions, and we all struggle with that. I make lists and there is that little satisfaction when you make that little check mark. -Mom
    I feel like I struggle with that more than most because I can never focus on one thing for a long time. My mom says she does not think I am ADHD, though. -Me

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →