I have this little planner that I affectionately refer to as “My-Brain-On-Paper”. Where I go, it goes. I write everything in there. My dates with friends, reminders for work, my daily to-do list, and the daunting “long-list” that keeps lengthening with low priority items that simply can’t be forgotten. Every now and again, I gasp thinking I lost or misplaced my precious planner. For the few mini-seconds I get that panicked fluttered feeling (like that feeling when you lock your keys in your car) as I frantically search for it. What would I do if I lost My-Brain-On-Paper? And then… I find it. My sanity is restored.
I love this planner because it keeps me on track and helps me find a way to manage my spinning head and all-to-frequent forgetfulness. My ink, tattooed all over its pages, unashamedly trespass margins, revealing evidence of not only the busyness in my head, but the busyness of my days. The hope, though, is that this planner doesn’t aid in my busyness but that it generates productivity. Productivity is often equated with busyness, but that is a façade. It is very easy to become quite busy in life, often with things that are “good” but it is even easier to miss that these things are not always what matter the most. Day after day, we can rush from one thing to the next all the while missing prosperous moments of productivity because distractions and unnecessary commitments have already called dibs.
Many of us have felt God’s call on our life to do more, charge forward, make a difference…etc. the list goes on. God has a beautiful way of placing callings on the soul that are tailored fit to match the specific, unique, one-of-a-kind “you.” Quickly we can become so busy with life that we fail to be productive in the main call He has asked of us. The power of productivity is found in organization, intentionality, and prayer.
God is a God of order, not chaos. Although, He continually works through chaos, He is a master designer. Things have a purpose, place and direction towards peace. “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). We too were designed to mimic and desire this type of order. When we can get some sense of order to our physical realm, whether that be our work space, our home, our grocery list, our laundry—we begin to feel a sense of peace. It mentally resets our mind and opens up mental capacity to be fully present for what is at hand. After God had created the earth, He rested on the seventh day. After all the things that were once “formless and void” (Gen 1:2) had a proper place, space, and purpose, God rested and then continued on. One of the best things we can do to be productive is take sometime to organize ourselves. Take time to organize your thoughts. Take mental inventory. What’s done? What needs done? What can wait? Organize your thoughts on a list. Write it out. Talk it out. Put it on a calendar. Whatever it takes for you to mentally organize, do it. Then move on to physical organization. What can you quickly put away? What clutter can you reduce or move to its proper place? What little task could you do that would clean up your work space or improve aesthetics? Do those things. When your mind is clear and your physical space is clear, you have prepared for more fruitful productive outcomes.
Now it’s time to be intentional. Prioritize what it is that is truly important. Usually these things that matter most pertain to health, safety, family, work, and most importantly faith. This is where it is essential to make the “main things, the main thing.” Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” As you seek God first, He will give you direction. Ask God, what is the call that He has placed on your heart? What is the thing you feel an urgency to be productive in? What is something you know needs done before all other things? God will help you figure out your priorities. Be intentional about the use of your time so that your priorities get accomplished. Time is precious; don’t squander it with meaningless distractions. Paul speaks to the Corinthians about Christian liberties when he says in 1 Cor. 10:23, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but not everything is constructive” but this verse can also apply to intentionality. We need God’s help to discern the difference between things that add more busyness and things that lead to productive fruit with the things to which He has given us stewardship.
Be in prayer about your productivity. God cares about it all—big and small. Commit your plans to the Lord. Consecrate each day to Him. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” Proverbs 16:1. That is exactly where we need to walk, in the steps guided by the Lord. Just like the miracle of the Jesus feeding 5000 people with a scarcity of fish and loaves of bread, so can Jesus multiply our time and enhance our productivity when we commit first to Him our plans.
If you need help being productive, start first on your knees. Ask God for His guidance. Then get up, pick up your pen, pick up your house, pick up the disorganized pieces and put order to the chaos. Be intentional with your time and limit distractions so that you can run the race God has set out before you. “ Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). There is much work for you to do and role that only you can play. Don’t waste time spinning your wheels in busyness. Pursue productivity and feel His smile.