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.
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?
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