Do More Better is Tim Challies' Christian answer to the productivity gurus of the business world. But, unlike them, his goal is not to help you get ahead, how to beat the system, or put in minimal effort to get maximum gains. Instead, as he says in the introduction, "I don’t want you to do more stuff or take on more projects or complete more tasks. Not necessarily. I don’t want you to work longer hours or spend less time with your family and friends. I want you to do more good. I want you to do more of what matters most, and I want you to do it better" (5).
Now that's something I can get on board with.
The book is a short one, consisting of ten punchy chapters:
- Know Your Purpose
- Answer the Call
- Define Your Responsibilities
- State Your Mission
- Select Your Tools
- Collect Your Tasks
- Plan Your Calendar
- Gather Your Information
- Live the System
- Maintain It Consistently
I really like that Challies balanced both theology with orthopraxy.
In the first chapter, he lays the biblical foundation to define what true productivity, in God's eyes, means. First, "[p]roductivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living our your existing purpose" (9) — namely to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in "day-to-day life by doing good works" (9). Good works are "deeds done for the glory of God and the benefit of other people," made possible by the finished work of Christ, and appropriate "at all times and in all areas of life" (12). With these foundation stones laid, Challies then defines productivity: "Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God." (15).
Chapter two briefly tackles some common productivity thieves: laziness, busyness, busylazy [sic], and thorns and thistles. In chapter three, you get down to the nuts and bolts of helping you define what are your areas of responsibility. Chapter four refines the mission of life in those particular areas.
Finally, the rest of the chapters are about selecting, creating, planning, storing, gathering, and organizing the system that is built on top of the foundation of biblical productivity. This is the section that everyone wants to get to first, but don't skip the first chapters!
I first read Challies' blog posts about productivity in 2015. When the book came out at the end of the year as a revamped version of his posts, I was excited. After reading it a few years back, and trying to implement his system, it has proved to be extraordinarily helpful. I've since read the book a few times and have made many adjustments to tweak the system to fit my own needs, but the foundations that he lays on in the book are indispensable.
By the Lord's grace, I do more good now than ever, not because I work hard or am a productivity guru, but because I am focused and have a way to organize my responsibilities before the Lord. I'm not burnt out, not tired, and encouraged to keep striving to do more good for the glory of my Lord. Thanks, Challies!
Although this book is extraordinarily helpful, it is not a Christian classic, universally applicable to all Christians. I don't think Challies intended it to be. It highly favors the technologically savvy, type-A personalities that loves organization - like me. But that's okay. For those who are looking for some structure to their lives, in order to do more good better for the glory of God, this book is a great help. I highly recommend you give it a read. Even if you don't like the system, you'll definitely learn something about the important theology of work.