Avoiding the Curse of Task Management

Today's Guest Post is from Loren Pinilis who operates Life of a Steward, a site about time management from a Christian perspective. He’s passionate about helping God’s people manage their time and showing them that busyness, stress, and procrastination are answered by the gospel.

We may use OmniFocus or Nozbe. We zealously chase Inbox Zero by using the two-minute rule.


But our focus on task management and productivity can often bring with it a curse – a weakness which actually makes us less productive.


It all started with David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Allen’s approach to the frenzied amount of decisions and information flying at us was to drill down and refine workflow. In other words, focus on mastering the basic building blocks of our day. Get really good at being efficient.


The problem is we then stay in that mindset. We stay at the “runway level” of task management. We become obsessed with efficiently adding items to our lists and efficiently crossing them off.


But we never look up to ask ourselves the big questions. In our zeal for efficiency, we move away from effectiveness. Yes, we may occasionally take a look at the bigger picture when we consider weekly planning or annual goals. But that’s not the big picture I’m talking about.


Do we ever take a step back and ask ourselves why we’re even on Earth? Do we see our daily lives in the context of eternity? Because when we do, we get a very different view of our work.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men

Colossians 3:23-24 reminds us: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”


This insight absolutely changes our life.


Now, crossing things off of our list isn’t our primary focus – it’s stewarding our resources well. Now, meeting our deadlines takes a back seat to bringing glory to God. Now, we work with purpose – every second of our day. Now, we will strive towards goals that really matter.


Now, we have to depend on Christ because we won’t be able to measure up to his perfect standard in our own power.


But now, we are given tremendous freedom. We’re not called to be somebody else. We’re not punished for failing to be as influential as a celebrity, author, or CEO. The sovereign God who created the universe doesn’t call us to achievement in the eyes of the world – but to obedience wherever we are right now.


And to bring this full-circle: that obedience can be achieved, in part, by efficiency and task management.


Mastering workflow is great. Efficiency is to be prized. But be sure to connect that efficiency to true effectiveness.


Question: Do you struggle with forgetting what true effectiveness is? What are some practices that can help us remember?

*Photo courtesy of LP