Dec 18, 2016

Do More Better And The Meaning Of Life (It's Not 42)

I read this book on the heals of Crazy Busy and I found that it helped clarify a lot of the ideas and issues which Crazy Busy raised for me.  While Crazy Busy was a meander through the thoughts and struggles of the author on busyness and intergrating that into the Christian life, it didn't really have any hard and fast conclusions, whereas Do More Better was different.

Video version of this review? Click here.

One Box not Two

A lot of Christians will compartmentalise their lives. Compartmentalising is basically dividing your life into sections. Let's use two boxes as an example. We will have two boxes one for Sunday Stuff and another for Every Other Day Stuff.  Christian stuff goes into the Sunday Stuff box and only gets pulled out and worked on at certain times, like Sunday, or during those times of the week we have sectioned off to do Sunday Stuff, like mid-week bible class or devotional times etc.  The rest of the week the Sunday Stuff is packed up and not considered as we go about our Every Other Day Stuff. Stuff like working and resting, and eating and travelling etc.  What Do More Better is suggesting is that Christians live a Wholistic lifestyle and combine both boxes together.

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

The author, Tim Challies, argues we need to incorporate our work/productivity into our Christian lives and he starts at the very foundation of the reformed tradition. The first question of the Westminster Larger Catechism is What is the chief and highest end of man? (or What is the meaning of life?) The answer... (which is also backed up in the Bible: Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Psalm 73:24-28, John 17:21-23) Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.  Therefore anything we do, including work, must rest on this foundation.

Making God Look Good.

Removing the compartmentalisation and committing to glorify God and enjoy him forever needs to be the basis of everything we do, whether it's eating, drinking, working or at rest. Glorifying God involves doing good works and making God look good. Remembering that good works are only possible because of Christ’s free gift of justification (Sola Fide).

The Goal Of Do More Better.

Establishing our productivity on the foundation of the gospel and making it part of our whole life is the goal of this book. Forget compartmentalising our lives into the Sunday Stuff and Every Other Day Stuff boxes. No amount of organization and time management will compensate for lack of Christian character, not when it comes to this great calling of glory through good – bringing glory to God by doing good to others.

Yeah, But My Job Sucks.

If you think that the work you are currently doing is not exciting or impressive and there is no way this humble or dull as dirt job will ever bring glory to God, Challies puts on the following quote from Gene Edward Veith:
Gene Edward Veith says, Essentially, your vocation is to be found in the place you occupy in the present. A person stuck in a dead-end job may have higher ambitions, but for the moment, that job, however humble, is his vocation. Flipping hamburgers, cleaning hotel rooms, emptying bedpans all have dignity as vocations, spheres of expressing love of neighbor through selfless service, in which God is masked.

Two Parts

This book is divided into two sections. In the first section Challies explores our busy lives and discusses the theology of work, which as I mentioned helped clarify some of the issues raised in Crazy Busy.  This section focused more on our main vocation (or work) and getting work done rather than busyness in general.  Challies also takes the reader though some exercises on how to set your foundations and focus in order to be more effective when you are working.

This principle extends to any area of life but is especially helpful in organizing your productivity system. Here it is: a home for everything, and like goes with like. Do not be deceived by the simplicity of this rule: It is a very, very powerful principle. If you were to consistently apply this principle all over your home or office, it would be and remain perfectly organized.
Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, loc. 549-552

In the second section of Do More Better we get practical advice on how to boost our productivity.  We are given a look at how Challies himself works, he provides the two simple principles this system revolves around, which is  "a home for everything, and like goes with like"  next he talks about which tools he uses and how to set them up for productivity.

Three Essential Tools

The 3 essential tools which he recommends are:

I have used all three online tools, but after reading how Challies recommended using them, I can see that I was using them in a haphazard and ineffectual manner.  Even though I do not need to use these tools in my job, I still found this section very useful and it was good to see how someone else uses these tools and uses them efficiently.

I tried using these tools as Challies recommended to 'do more, better' with my life outside of my job, for church life, family life and my blog but have reverted back to using Trello as the main tool for collecting ideas and articles for my Blog. For someone who doesn't have a system already in place or is looking for something different then I think these ideas will be of great use.

Do More Better is a nice short read and a very helpful on a topic that lots of people struggle with.  I think it would be well worth your while to get yourself a copy.

Do More Better
A Practical Guide to Productivity 

by Tim Challies

A short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world. Whether you are a student or a professional, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, it will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good to the glory of God.

You can also get yourself a copy from Cruciform Press.

Takes Aways

Here are some take-aways from the book which I hope will clarify what the book is about:


I do wonder if, again, we suffer from busy syndrome more today than we did in the past. After all, our society often judges us and ranks us according to our busyness. Although we complain about being busy, we also find that it validates us,

Busyness may make you feel good about yourself and give the illusion of getting things done, but it probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.

Do the Hardest Tasks First

While it may be tempting to focus on several small tasks and reduce your task list substantially, there is often much more value in going straight after the hardest task. Accomplishing nine or ten low-priority tasks while neglecting the one high-priority task may make you feel better, but it is the very opposite of true productivity. Try to do the hardest thing first and when you’re at your peak.

Expect Failure

Do not be discouraged by your inability to do it all, realize that circumstances and providence may interrupt and delay even your best laid plans. Not only that, but you set and manage your priorities with the information available to you at the time, but this information is always limited.

What is productivity?

Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.

You need to structure and organize your life so that you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God.

Your purpose (in life): to glorify God by doing good to others. That is what we are called to in each of our areas of responsibility: to serve and surprise.

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