Every day, we make decisions about, “What do I do next?”
“Do I finish that work project or spend quality time with the family?”
“Should I pay the bills, visit with friends, or relax and watch TV?”
“Do I start on that church service project, get some exercise, or read a book?”
At these times, there are some strategies we can use to help us decide what to do next:
1. Do the most important things. The recent blog post titled “Just Another Day” describes how to use the five STEPS to include important activities in each day. In summary, here are three things to focus on as you allocate your time:
- Honor God – Schedule quiet time alone with God every day.
- Invest in relationships – Spend quality time with key people often.
- Serve others – Devote effort to a service project each week.
2. Decide not to do some things. Each of us has bad habits. Pick one, and choose not to spend time on that wasteful activity any more. One temptation at a time, choose to do something else instead.
In addition, practice ignoring more tasks. Don’t work on everything on your to do list, work on the important things. On less important activities, simply let them go undone.
3. Be intentional with your time. Prioritization can take place on purpose as you consciously decide what to do next, or by default if you mindlessly wander from one activity to another. You can get done the things that you declare as important. Schedule time for those items, work on them first, and get them done.
Think about and identify (even write them down) what things will be most important to you in the long run. When you look back on your life, what will you want to have spent your time doing? Then, each day, plan time in your schedule for those activities.
These approaches can guide us to make good decisions on how to do the next right thing each day. They have helped me become more productive, but I still sometimes obsess about what to do next, and I often struggle with questions such as:
- How much do I really need to get done today?
- When is it okay to relax, and when am I procrastinating?
- When do I slow down and enjoy the moment rather than getting something done?
- Does God care about what I do next, or am I worrying about it all for nothing?
Spiritually, I’m still conflicted at times on how productive I am supposed to be each day as I try to balance guidance such as:
God does not need our assistance in order for him to accomplish his purposes.
But he has asked that we seek to do certain things while we are here on earth.
God does not want us to worry about how the future will turn out.
But he wants us to work hard and do the best we can at all we do.
God does not love us more when we are productive than when we are not.
But he does want us to be good stewards of our time and talents.
To help achieve the right balance spiritually, we may need to add a couple of additional strategies to the ones mentioned above:
4. See everything you do as holy. Whatever you work on, it is important to God, and any task you do can be done for him. From an eternal perspective, WHAT you do is less important than WHY you do it (to honor God or serve others) and HOW you do it (by giving it your very best). It is important to try to work on the right things, but you can honor God in whatever you do.
5. Stop worrying how productive you are. Worry is when we feel anxiety or unease and allow our mind to dwell on something we are unsure about. If you are not sure about what to do next, just pick something that feels right and do it. Ask God to guide your efforts, do the best you can, and feel okay about it. You can adjust later if needed.
There’s probably not a “right” answer to my personal productivity dilemma, and it seems that God wants me to work it out as best I can along my daily journey. In fact, thinking about what to do next helps keep me focused on God’s direction for my life. He uses even my own uncertainty to do something good, and that’s pretty cool.
Right now, what should you do next?
Action: Each day, if you are trying to use your time wisely, give yourself a break. God is in control, and everything does not depend on you. Relax and enjoy the journey.