You may have noticed I’ve been much less active on social media and other places in the last month or two. We’re in the final stretch of our house renovation, and I am pouring a lot of time into it. So I’ve let a few things slide until I finish the project. Expect to see a lot more of me in about a month.
Biting off more than we can chew seems a perennial problem for productivity-oriented people. In our quest to get as much done as possible, we inevitably take on more than is actually possible.
The results: Busyness, burnout, and cut corners.
Hard work is good and God-honoring. But so are rest and reflection. It’s the balance God designed for us from the beginning and even modeled in His resting on the 7th day of creation. We ignore that balance to our own peril.
I hope this Roundup issue will help you find more balance in these things for God’s glory.
– Reagan Rose
In Today’s Issue:
- You’re doing too many things at once
- Preparing disciples for the workplace
- Why we choose busyness
- What to do with this one life
- Academy registration closing
The best links I found this week
Jason Cohen / A Smart Bear
One of the lies of productivity is that you can always do more if you learn to manage your time better. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know there is a limit to our capacity—we aren’t God, after all. But even if we acknowledge we can’t do everything, I suspect many of us are still unwilling to admit just how small our capacity is.
This author argues that we can only do two Big Things well. And when you try to do three or more, that’s when the problems arise.
Big Things include:
- Social Life
- Major Hobby
“Some people try to ‘have it all.’ Men and women both. But it’s never true. At most two can function well; the rest do not. More often, there’s just one that receives the majority of the energy, and the rest suffers.”
This a good reminder (especially for Christians) that productivity is more about being extremely faithful in a small number of valuable pursuits, not about a quixotic quest to do it all.
Preparing Disciples for the Workplace (31 mins)
Adrian Reynolds, Julian Gadsby / In:Dependence
This is a great conversation on how church leaders can help their people think more biblically about work. The discussion gets into some really interesting questions and seeks to address the biblically:
- How can church leaders help people think about work well?
- How to connect the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’
- Is your workplace a mission field?
- How do you help people flourish in their work?
The episode on theology of work is excellent as well.
The illusion of productivity (4 mins)
Anne-Laure Le Cunff / Ness Labs
As much as we constantly complain about being busy, the truth is that most of us seek out busyness. We can’t stand not to be doing something, even if we choose to be busy for no good reason.
“In a research study about busyness and idleness, scientists asked participants to go deliver a survey in one of two locations which they could choose from. The first option was nearby, allowing people to complete the task quicker, come back to the research center, and wait, doing nothing (the idle option); the second option was far away, with very little time to wait once they’d come back (the busy option).”
Which option the participants chose depended on just one factor: “whether or not they had a justification—even if only specious—to choose the ‘busy’ option.”
Again and again, researchers found that people would do whatever it took to justify keeping busy and avoid idleness. The scientists behind the study concluded: “Our research suggests that many purported goals that people pursue may be merely justifications to keep themselves busy.”
The article explains why the author believes we are wired this way and how to get off the crazy busy train. But I’d like to add some of my own comments.
On the one hand, our aversion to idleness can be a good thing. The Proverbs especially do not speak highly of laziness. The problem comes when we choose to be busy with things that don’t matter. The result is a lot of stress, energy exertion, and little to show for all that work.
On the other hand, I don’t believe God designed us to be busy all the time. He, after all, created the Sabbath for our sake (Mark 2:27–28). Being constantly busy means not having time to think deeply, pray, or meditate on the things of the Lord. The desire to always stay in motion and always be working may be our way of fleeing from those uncomfortable truths we must confront.
The pattern God has set forth for us is a rhythm of hard work and rest. Seasons of great exertion, followed by a time of rest and reflection. This is true on multiple time scales, daily, weekly, and yearly. We can’t—and shouldn’t—always be working. It is not conducive to a faithful life, and it isn’t healthy.
If we work like machines, we will also break down like machines.
Quote of the Week
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” – C.T. Studd
Redeeming Productivity Academy registration is closing this Friday. We will reopen at the end of June for Q3, but if you want to jump in and get a head start on courses and everything else, now is the time to join! Join RPA.
Praying you have a blessed (and productive) rest of your week!