Sacrificing at the Altar of Getting Things Done

If you’ve read a lot here on Of The Hearth, then you’re likely aware that I value hard work and productivity. Whether I’m battling laziness, identifying the reasons I struggle to get things done, or trying to overcome procrastination, it seems I’m always trying to get more done.

Are you busy because you’re completing the truly important tasks—things to which God has called you—or are you just getting things done?

Given I spend my days caring for two young children, I have to work hard and be productive if I’m also going to invest in my marriage, keep up with housework, participate in church gatherings, write this blog, and attend social activities. However, over the last few months I’ve realized that it’s one thing to be busy with tasks that are important aspects of caring for my family and things to which I believe the Lord has called me, but another thing entirely to pack my day with tasks because I feel the need to simply get things done.

I have many “Type A” personality traits (for example, I tend to be impatient, achievement-oriented, and obsessed with time management and organization), so I constantly feel this drive to be doing. In fact, this drive has led to productivity becoming an idol in my life. Here’s what this looks like: I sometimes find myself doing a cursory job when completing tasks because I just want to get them completed and at other times I feel satisfied after getting carried away with a less important activity (like checking social media) because it seems like I completed something.

Thankfully, my personality, penchants, and preferences are not sovereign. They do not exist outside of God’s control, nor do they have to dictate my actions (Romans 8:9a). Though it’s challenging to live this out, I’m committed to not sacrificing my children, my husband, and the other things to which I’m called on the altar of productivity.

Here are the things I’m doing to make sure I’m completing the truly important tasks instead of just getting things done.

Dismantling the idol of productivity

  • Identify my priorities and use them to sift out unimportant tasks. It’s pretty easy to identify the things that are most important in my life: My relationship with the Lord, my roles of wife and mom, and loving my neighbors. With these in mind, I can look over my to-do lists and decrease the importance of, or even eliminate, many of the tasks. After all, my goal isn’t to busily check items off my list; it’s to complete the tasks that support the priorities in my life.
  • Start each day with prayer and in the Word. Even when I’m busy—especially when I’m busy—it’s critical that I start my day with these activities that will help me focus on my priorities, refresh my spirit, and put me in communication with the One who has new mercies for me each and every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).
  • Let my reactions to interruptions check my motives. The way I react when I’m interrupted as I go about completing tasks sheds light on my motives. When I get unreasonably frustrated with interruptions (for example, one of my daughters getting sick), it’s typically an indication that I’m way too focused on getting things done. Though interruptions of this nature are also inconvenient when I’m focused on the truly important tasks, I don’t often respond with as much frustration as when I’m fixed on less important tasks. If my response is unreasonable, then it’s time to stop and evaluate if what I’m doing really needs to be done.

Do you ever struggle with the drive to get things checked off of your to-do list, even if these tasks aren’t all that important and completing them means your kids (or your spouse, ministry, etc.) will miss out on the best of you? What will you do this coming year to avoid sacrificing at the altar of getting things done?

Shared at the following:

Monday’s Musings and The Art of Home-Making.

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Comments

  1. If you can prioritize tasks into ‘essential,’ ‘desirable,’ ‘would be nice,’ and ‘doesn’t matter that much,’ you will know which to let go when the going gets tough. If things slip and you find you have a few days worth of ‘ doesn’t matter that much’ piling up it’s okay. It doesn’t matter that much.

    • Hi Robyn,
      That sounds like a very helpful approach! I would benefit from being able to prioritize my tasks in this way.
      Thanks for sharing this idea with us!

  2. Shannon, I relate to this so much! I think part of the struggle is that, for stay at home moms, there is not really a separation of “work life” and “home life,” and we can continually have a mental or physical To Do list running. I’ve been trying to do better at finding the balance of productivity, and it’s a conversation/decision making process I have with myself every day! One day, Peter unexpectedly took a big nap, and I found myself with a chunk of time where I could accomplish any of the 10 or so things I had rolling through my head. However, I decided to instead curl up with a book next to him as he napped, and it was amazing. While this was great, there are other days when I know that I really need to get things done, so I focus a little more on productivity.

    I really love the point you made about “Let my reactions to interruptions check my motives”-that is such a good idea, and I’m going to keep that in mind and put that into play in my life! Thanks for your awesome post and ideas!

    • Great thoughts about work life and home life, AnneMarie. I’ve noticed before that my husband gets weekends and holidays from work, but I don’t. I hadn’t considered how this impacts my drive to be productive, but I think you’re right. I need to get better at balancing productivity and relaxation!

  3. Wonderful post. I love the approach. This post was filled with encouraging wisdom and needs to be shared! I’m glad you linked at The Art Of Homemaking.
    I would love you to add The Fabulous Party to your link list and share this post!
    The party is over here:

    http://ourholidayjourney.blogspot.com/2017/01/january-fabulous-tidy-up-link-party.html

    ;

  4. I SO identify with this post!! I relate to all that you’ve written, and appreciate seeing my need to continually accomplish as an idol that I need to let go of. Like you, I want to prioritize time in God’s Word to keep me focused on His plan for my day. I’ve also been reminding myself that “interruptions” are only viewed that way from my limited understanding, but God has allowed them into my life for His own purposes.

    • Great perspective, Tracey. We view things as “interruptions” because we can’t see the big picture. Thanks for this reminder!

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