Many people make New Year’s Resolutions with varying levels of success.
I have made an effort in recent years not to do New Year’s Resolutions but to do Old Year’s Evaluations.
Depending upon the year, I have spent hours if not even up to a week evaluating not what I do, but how I do it. If you have a busy pace, it may seem impossible to take time to evaluate because you have so much to do.
Trust me, if you can learn to work smarter now, you will find yourself working faster later.
In recent years, I have spent time being critical of how I personally do things and it has changed the way I work for the better and has allowed more time to be more productive in worthwhile endeavors. This process has changed the way I do:
- Answering and responding to emails
- Plan and work on projects
- Conduct Bible reading and memorization
- Keeping up with work receipts
- Pay bills and budget money
- Organize bookshelves and schedule development
- Systematically check-in on people
- And much more
When I look at my work week, so much of how I do things came from time spent evaluating how I have done things. I have found so many wiser ways of doing things and that process has allowed me to be a part of more Kingdom-focused projects as a result.
In my life, my job has changed drastically this year. Out of necessity, I am in need of evaluating what I do, but also how I do it.
Don’t evaluate what you do. Evaluate how you do it.
Whether you work in a church, business, or the home, you can always invest time in working smarter and more effective.
Productivity Is a Biblical Mandate
This post isn’t just secular leadership thoughts either. This process is biblical. The Bible is clear on how we should spend our time so it is a wise thing to evaluate that from time to time.
- Be Productive. Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise (Prov. 6:6). If you watch how ants operate, they are in constant motion focused upon one task that they repeat over and over. Lots to consider there.
- Schedule Your Priorities. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:15-17). What is God’s will for your life? To make the absolute best use of the time allotted to you. I once had a mentor tell me: “Stop prioritizing your schedule and start scheduling your priorities.” There’s a good lesson there. Maybe you can’t get to the things God has called you to because you are doing things that other people want you to do.
- Take a Sabbath Rest. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Ex. 20:8-11). Two things to consider with the principle of the Sabbath: 1) You need to work hard enough six days out of the week so that you can’t make it without a day’s rest, 2) You need to trust the Sovereign God for seven days of provision off of six days of labor. It’s a trust issue. I know this: you and I are not as important or indispensable as we think we are.
- Number Your Days. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12). Once you realize that time is limited, you start becoming more productive. Get to work.
- Plan for a Vapor. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15). While I am all for planning and getting ahead, always plan with the idea that your life is but a vapor and if the Almighty keeps the vapor alive long enough, he has the right and the ability to change the vapor’s plan at any time he so chooses.
Where to Start
Take some time at the end of this year and the beginning of a new one to do some evaluation. Look at those areas that are cumbersome to you. Where are those trouble areas that seem to slow you down or frustrate the process? What tasks do you feel like you are always trying to play catch up? Any systems that you need to create?
In the next couple of days, I have a to-do list a mile long. In order to accomplish them more effectively, I’m going to carve out some time to evaluate how I can do them better. I might even have this week’s list not done as well as I would like because I want next week’s to be done better. This time spent is investment.
The whiteboard is empty right now, but it will be full later with lists of issues, problem areas, and unorganized processes. I will put ideas of how to be more intentional and productive at home, in the car, and in the office. I will make a list of things I need to shift, organize, purchase, eliminate, or change altogether.
Why do this process? Because I have one life. And I want to use it wisely to fulfill why God has me on this earth.
Don’t evaluate what you do – evaluate how you do it.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.