Tim Challies begins his book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity with a bold claim: “I believe this book can improve your life.”
However, after reading the book, which is just 120 pages long including endnotes!, I believe that Challies makes good on his claim.
As far as explicitly Christian approaches to personal productivity go, Challies’ Do More Better stands alongside Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. While Perman’s book is fantastic and thorough, Challies’ book has the advantage of being MUCH shorter (120 pages vs. 383 pages).
Put simply, as far as bang-for-the-buck (or bang-for-the-page), Do More Better is the best reading recommendation I can make if you’d like to learn more about a Christian approach to personal productivity.
Do More Better, An Overview
Know Your Purpose
Chapter one, Know Your Purpose, is devoted to the maxim that, as a Christian, your purpose is to glorify God by doing good to others.
Answer the Call
In chapter two, Answer the Call, Challies discusses the “Producitivity Thieves” of Laziness, Busyness, “BusyLazy,” and Thorns & Thistles. He also places personal productivity in its proper context in the Christian life, rightly stating that:
“God calls you to productivity, but he calls you to the right kind of productivity. He calls you to be productive for his sake, not your own. While this book will emphasize tools and systems and other important elements of productivity, nothing is more important than your own holiness and your own godliness. No amount of organization and time management will compensate for a lack of Christian character, not when it comes to this great calling of glory through good — bringing glory to God by doing good to others” (25).
Define Your Responsibilities
In chapter three, Define Your Responsibilities, Challies walks us through the process of defining and listing the various areas of responsibility in our lives (Personal, Family, Church, School, Work, Social, etc.), as well as our roles within those various areas of responsibility. Defining and listing both of these things provides the map/framework for what follows.
State Your Mission
In chapter four, State Your Mission, Challies covers the process of developing mission/purpose statements for each of the Areas of Responsibility from chapter three. This completes the “audit” of one’s life, before moving on to the tools of productivity in chapter five.
Select Your Tools
This is where things get really practical.
According to Challies, everyone needs the following three tools:
- A Task Management Tool (he recommends ToDoist, which I also use)
- A Scheduling Tool (he recommends Google Calendar, which I also use)
- An Information Tool (he recommends Evernote, which I also use)
He also introduces the extremely important productivity principle: a home for everything, and like goes with like.
Collect Your Tasks, Plan Your Calendar, and Gather Your Information
In chapter six, Collect Your Tasks, Challies walks us through the process of setting up and beginning to use ToDoist. Chapter seven, Plan Your Calendar, is devoted to setting up and using Google Calendar. Chapter eight, Gather Your Information, is (you guessed it) devoted to setting up and using Evernote.
These three chapters are insanely helpful if you’re not already familiar with these three powerful tools!
Live the System
In chapter nine, Live the System, Challies covers how the three productivity tools work together in a cohesive personal productivity system on a daily level. This chapter contains a bunch of helpful information on how to prioritize and structure your day.
Maintain it Consistently
Chapter ten, Maintain It Consistently, expands the horizon of focus to the weekly level. Challies walks us through the important process of the Weekly Review, focusing on the power of checklists and how we can “serve and surprise” in each of our areas of responsibilities and roles.
As a bonus, Do More Better ends with 6 Tips for Doing More Better with Email and 20 Tips to Increase Your Productivity. My favorite tip from this section of the book is “6. Create a Not-To-Do-List”!
“Create a note within Evernote that will contain a not-to-do-list. Make this a list of bad productivity habits you are trying to break, and go over this list each week during your weekly review. My not-to-do-list includes ‘Do not dring coffee after 2 p.m.,’ ‘Do not leave email open all day,’ and ‘Do not agree to meethings that have no agenda or no end-time’ (116-17).”
Again, I know of no better, briefer Christian approach to personal productivity than Do More Better
If you’re looking for a personal productivity system of your own, in order to do more for the glory of God and the good of others, pick up Challies’ book today!
Want to read more about productivity?
If you’re currently a student, especially in high school or college, check out Challies’ student edition of Do More Better:
Otherwise, if you’d like an even deeper dive into a Christian approach to productivity, the best book I know of is Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done:
Note: some links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means that, if you click the link and make a purchase, then (at no extra cost to you) I receive a small commission. However, I only ever recommend products that I think will benefit my readers!