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.
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.