Grady Fleming, The Circle

Do you ever find yourself desperately seeking for motivation, but are convinced that no such thing exists, because if you happen to stumble upon it, it evaporates just as soon as it came to you? That book you promised yourself you were going to read months ago sits within arm’s length, but you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed for the third time in the last half-hour? You want to be productive, but you just cannot seem to get out of bed because of the long string of to-do items on your ever-growing to-do list?

Tim Challies’ Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity is an interesting read for anyone who has ever felt this way (if you can manage to stretch your arm out and pick it up, of course). From how to organize your life into different areas of responsibility and prioritize them, to how to manage your email, he offers simple, yet effective tools that will help you do more, better.

With a task management tool, a scheduling tool, and an information tool, Challies suggests using technology to our advantage. Rather than remembering everything, he advises we master these tools that remember things for us. Rather than memorizing the insignificant details of life, he suggests we spend more time doing and learning things that will actually have an impact.

For Challies, a pastor, his desire is not that people would simply be more productive; he proposes productivity with a purpose. For the Christian, one’s ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God. How does one do this? Challies argues, “by doing good to others.” It is only logical then, that being productive – doing good to others, better – brings Christian’s one step closer to fulfilling their purpose. Challies’ redefinition of productivity should fundamentally transform the way a Christian approaches life.

Yet, this has much broader implications that reach far beyond Christianity. His practical tools aside, which are valuable in and of themselves for the religious and the secular alike, this insight, productivity with a purpose, need not be limited to the Christian realm. One of the reasons we cannot seem to find motivation, is because we do not have a purpose. When we do not see a purpose to life, we become susceptible to laziness or busyness, or perhaps both. When was the last time you put something off, saying “I can do it tomorrow” (read laziness), only to become frantic and anxious trying to complete the task minutes before the deadline (read busyness).

Implementing the tools Challies offers is a great step towards leading a more productive life. However, it is vital that we find purpose beyond mere productivity. Whether it be for Allah, your family, your community, or the world, we all need to take a step back and reexamine our purpose. Without doing so, we easily fall into the trap of aimless productivity. Productivity without a purpose is plain busywork. It is like twiddling your thumbs at 120 rotations a minute. Take the time to self-reflect, discover, or rediscover your purpose, and join the challenge in becoming a purpose-driven productive individual that contributes to the world in tangible ways.