We all want productivity to be part of our lives. We want to accomplish our best in work, love, and play. But when we pursue productivity simply to be productive, we’ve missed the purpose of it! That’s why productivity should be coupled with grace in order to be effective for Christ.
If you’re struggling to be productive and gracious, here are ten tips to keep you goal-focused and grace-driven.
Establish priorities with your family.
Whether you’re living at home, with a roommate, or with your spouse, take into account the people closest to you when establishing life priorities. For instance: Don’t set a priority of “world travel” without first discussing this with your housemates. Your choices don’t just affect you; they affect everyone around you. If you’re married and/or have kids, this is even more imperative. Your priorities should be established with your family, not in spite of them.
Create flexible routines.
A daily routine is the best friend of productivity. But in order to maintain grace in your relationships, the routine must be flexible. While a rigid routine might seem like the better option, life isn’t just about getting stuff done. If you forfeit your witness to check off a to-do list, what is your life worth? Make your routine flexible and adjustable dependent upon your daily circumstances.
Read more: How to Create a Daily Routine
Always have a Plan B.
Cueing off the previous point, always have a back up plan for your task list. If you can’t get something done when you originally planned, having a fallback time slot will reduce stress. You will respond graciously because you aren’t worried about getting the task done – you already planned for a delay.
Stop celebrating your stress level.
Our culture portrays stress like a badge of honor. It’s not! Stress is evidence of mismanagement of time and emotion. God does not call us to stress but to rest, and bragging about how “stressed” or “busy” we are only proves that we’ve missed His priorities for our lives. If you can’t manage your life in a gracious manner, something needs to go.
Keep all your lists in one place.
I recently began bullet journaling. I love that it enables me to keep all my lists in one place – rather than rummaging through my planner for the grocery list, the daily list, and the packing list I’d inevitably lose. If you don’t bullet journal, post your lists in a public spot in your home, such as the fridge or a command center. Keep everyone clued into what you’re doing that day so they can help with the list, or at least be aware of your schedule.
Be realistic about your time.
I’m a classic overcommitter. But since having a baby, I’ve realized my time is limited and – as Lysa TerKeurst so wisely wrote in her recent book – I need to choose the “best yes” in every situation. Choosing the best means sometimes saying no. Be realistic about how much time is actually available to you. Don’t push yourself to an unnecessary stress level just to “do it all”.
Communicate your need for help.
Like I talked about in this post, I not only ask my husband to help me at home, we divide the labor. Because I work from home and he works long hours, we only have a few hours before bed in the evenings. For several months I was frustrated by caring for the baby AND making dinner, doing the dishes, and cleaning up before bed – there was no time left for us to be together. I communicated my needs to Josh and we developed a plan for our evenings.
Don’t expect people to know you need help. We are all inherently selfish, and just because someone “should” know you need help doesn’t mean they’ll always recognize it. Give grace, and communicate.
Don’t expect others to share your passion.
Not everyone will understand your goals and priorities. For example, of my five siblings, I am the most goal-oriented. I defeat procrastination through self-discipline, and am constantly refining my priorities and plans. This works for me – but I don’t expect my family to do the same.
Communicate your priorities, plans, and schedule, but let your people be themselves. They need that freedom! Trying to force them into your schedule will only put strain on your relationships.
Be realistic. Communicate your needs. Don’t put burdensome expectations on others. Now you also need to set boundaries. There are some people who don’t understand the productive lifestyle, and truly would rather watch Netflix than end their day with the satisfaction of work well done. These people can still make good friends, but you must be clear about your time and know when to leave. If they often visit your house, find a gracious way to escort them out if they overstay their welcome. People who don’t schedule their days will have a hard time understanding people who do, so graciously communicate your schedule ahead of time, and remind them if they don’t adhere to it.
Work for grace, not perfection.
Emily Ley of Simplified Planners often uses this quote. Lara Casey, one of my favorite writers and business owners, also talks about this principle. It’s not about how much you get done but your attitude as you do it! If you lose your grace in pursuit of perfection, you’ve missed the purpose of it all.