Featured, Personal Growth

Rethinking Productivity

I didn’t get done what I had planned to do yesterday morning.  My to-do list went unchecked.

Joy Baby was particularly whiney.  After trying several things, including handing her into the care of her doting big sisters to keep her occupied, it was clear that only Mommy would do.

I finally stopped trying to get things done and I sat and rocked her in the chair.  It was then that I realized that my Joy baby had a fever.  Well, no wonder she was whiney!  Sweet girl didn’t feel good.

So I sat and rocked her… as time ticked away and nothing got done.   My ambitions for a productive morning gone out the window so it seemed.

As I sat rocking my Joy Baby, I thought about this thing that matters so much in our world, this way we measure our life and accomplishments.  Productivity.

Productivity is defined as:

The quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.

A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs. 

Being productive is defined as:

Achieving or producing a significant amount or result; resulting in or providing a large amount or supply of something:

Being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth a large amount of goods and services.  The efficiency of a person.  Useful outputs.

Productivity is about output and efficiency and having something significant to show for your day. It is about quantity and amount.

For me, productivity has meant accomplishing my to-do list.   It’s revolved around the volume of stuff I complete in a day.  It is about making the best use of my time to accomplish something significant, usually in terms of amount.

None of that was happening in the moments I held my sick Joy Baby as she slept in my arms.  I felt this inner unsettledness as the clock ticked in my brain and I felt the undone tasks multipling as the minutes in the day became fewer and fewer.  Less time to do what I needed to in order to name this day productive.

And then I heard a whisper, “This is you being productive Janise. It’s not about amount but meaning, doing what matters most in the moment.”

And what mattered most in that moment was being the arms that cradled my sick child.

What if productivity is not about getting a lot of things done in a day but getting the right things done in a day?  What if the best use of my time is giving up my to-do list and giving in to the Spirit’s direction for my day? What if it’s more about meaning than amount?

When I think about it, what matters most in my life as a Christian is not the goods I produce in a day but the glory I bring God throughout my day in all that I do, whether a little or a lot.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Because you see what God says we were made to “produce” is glory to God.  That is our purpose and goal in life.  That is us operating at maximum efficiency… it’s all in terms of amount of glory we are giving God not the amount of things we accomplish in a day.

The interruption in my day of my sick Joy Baby made me realize just how much my understanding of productivity has been influenced by the world’s perspective of efficient use of time and getting things done.  It has been defined by quantity and accomplishing tasks that others would deem significant.

But what if I am just as productive in a day if I do only one thing, like care for a sick child, or drop everything to be with a friend in need.  What if I am just as productive if I only get half the things done I planned in a day because I’ve attended to other things that mattered more in the moment, like a kid needing some time with their mom to listen to their hard day, or that co-worker who needed a place to share their struggle in life so they didn’t feel so alone.

I can so often measure my days by whether I have been productive as defined by the world: the amount of things accomplished, tasks completed, checks next to my list of to-dos.  But I think I am going to rethink my understanding of being productive as attending to the most important thing in the moment and seeking to glorify God in all I do.

Here’s hoping for a really productive day!


2 thoughts on “Rethinking Productivity

  1. This was so great. My soul needed this reminder especially in the stage of having a toddler when they need so much of our full attention!!

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