Like many people, my thoughts in January turn to building new habits and getting things done. My life seems to cycle through periods of growth and effectiveness, and stagnant laziness. I hustle really hard until I don’t. And then I don’t hustle, really hard.

Right now this looks like a wall of Post-It Notes on my bedroom wall. It’s the outline for a book whose rough draft has been on my computer for 5 months without a single edit. I pounded that first draft out hard and fast last summer, and when the time came to refine my content I came to a screeching halt.

This also looks like lazy homeschooling. We schooled so hard in September. I was totally winning! But our days are unstructured to a fault and now we cover only the bare basics. My goal to get through our history and science curricula this school year is in danger of needing to be modified to a two year plan.

My effective/lazy cycle circles around again.

It was very timely that a sermon about good works and getting things done was preached to our church a few weeks ago. It gave me so much to think about in regards to why I want to accomplish the things on my to-do list, and not just focusing on being productive. In his book Do More Better, Tim Challies says, Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose. It became very clear to me that I have been looking at productivity all wrong. I’ve made it the goal, rather than the means by which I accomplish my true goals. I am created in Christ Jesus for good works, so that I would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10) My purpose is to be a faithful follower of Jesus, which involves doing good. My purpose is not to check things off my to-do list. It’s possible to be very productive at things that don’t matter.

My seasons that seem to lack productivity actually suffer from a lack of vision. I lose sight of the point. I think I’m hustling for hustle’s sake rather than for the sake of Jesus and what He is calling me to.

As I organize my time in my new bullet journal*, I’m not expecting it to make me productive, and I’m not aiming for productivity as the end goal of every day. My goal is faithfulness to Jesus, wisely using the time He gives me to do the things in front of me. Sometimes that means I see tangible results: a clean house, drawers full of clean laundry, children up to date on their school work, and budget in check. But sometimes it means there are no tangible results: navigating the waters of raising a houseful of sinful children and pointing their hearts to Jesus, or pushing the Gospel deep into my heart as I wrestle with my own sin. Those days don’t produce measurable results, but the goal is always the same: that I would be a faithful follower of Jesus, and do what He puts before me, whether it looks good on a checklist or not. That’s the point.

*About my bullet journal: I mention it only because I came across this way of creating a custom organizer and it seems like a brilliant method. There are already way too many people sharing online what their journals look like – I’m not going to add to it. The website I linked above is more than sufficient information if you want to implement this way of personal organization. Don’t worry about what it looks like, just let it propel you to do what you need to do.

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