My dad has a saying that we six kids heard a thousand times while growing up, “There’s a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.” When he said this, it was usually in relation to the hand tools being put back in the correct drawer or snow shovels being hung on the proper hook. The principle was simple and, when followed, was an essential ingredient to peaceful living in a well-ordered home.
Tim Challies has a version of that same principle, which he applies to life management: “a home for everything, and like goes with like.” In other words, there needs to be a place for everything that floats around our brains related to the carrying out of the responsibilities and opportunities associated with God’s calling for our lives, and life is well-ordered and most productive when all similar stuff is in its proper place.
The day Do More Better was released, I ordered it. Why?
- A week never goes by in which I don’t wish I had been more productive; I regularly wish there were more hours in a day.
- The book is short (120 pages), and I’m a slow reader.
- Tim Challies is a productive guy, a brother in Christ whom I wanted to learn from.
- Other productivity books in my library provided limited help to me, personally. I needed a coach to show me how to do it.
A Book that Requires Work
Do More Better is not a book to read. It is a book to work—to apply—it is a working book. While the first two chapters lay out a brief, biblical philosophy for productivity, each chapter that follows contains action steps, which I considered to be mandatory for myself. And I’m very glad I did. I suggest you take 5-7 days to work the book. Here’s what I did.
- The day after the book arrived in my mailbox, I read the first chapter and printed and filled out its corresponding worksheet. Day 2: I reviewed the worksheet and took it deeper.
- Days 3 and 4: I read and worked through the mission statement assignment (something I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never done before). As a result, there are some things I’m not going to do anymore, some I will do less, and some more.
These first two chapters are essential if you sense it is time to calibrate your life, to evaluate what you are doing in light of your God-given responsibilities, gifting, and calling. I would discourage you from skipping these chapters. Slow down, pause, do this. It will be necessary for lasting progress.
- Days 5 and 6: I read the more practical section of the book and worked through every action step exactly as Tim coached me.
- Day 7: I followed through on my first daily Coram Deo review.
I will not pretend, this was not easy. But, as of today, I’ve worked the system and completed daily reviews three times, and I’m loving it. The beauty of the system is in its simplicity.
Coach, Not Guru
What I love the most about Do More Better is that Tim does not set out to become another productivity guru. Instead, he is a coach—and a good one. Too many productivity/time-management books have left me feeling like I had to copy the author’s elaborate life habits down to specifics in order to succeed. The problem with that approach is that no two of us are wired by God completely the same, and no two human lives are identical in their responsibilities and calling. This book never made me feel like other books have. Instead, Tim walked me through his life management habits—giving me enough specific examples to see how the system works—but not so many that I would be tempted to try to become just like him. I needed someone to hold my hand, so to speak, and walk me through setting up the three basic tools that I will continue to customize to suit my life the best. Tim did that.
For the first time, I’m actually beginning to feel like I can get a handle on things and have a system that works. I have much further to go (there are app videos to watch and more features to learn), and will continue to tweak as I go. I’ve already signed up for Tim’s 10 Days of Productivity so I can get a better grip on my new tools, and recommend you do the same. But, first, get the book and work the book, as far as you are able to on your own. You will not regret it. It is the best little book on life management in my library.