Book Break: Taming the To-Do List

How ironic that I have been procrastinating for weeks … oh wait, make that months … on writing my review of the book Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day by Glynnis Whitwer. As someone who always has several To-Do lists going, with some items continually moving to new lists rather than being marked off, I knew this book was for me. Although directed toward women (probably because of her connection to Proverbs 31 Ministries), the ideas Glynnis shares from a biblical perspective can be applicable to and applied by anyone.

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These days, we are all busy. It seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. And, if you’re like me, there are always some tasks that, for whatever reason, we keep avoiding by filling up our schedules with things that matter little (answering emails, scrolling through Pinterest) rather than those that would make a greater impact on our lives (scheduling appointments, writing a blog post). Glynnis notes, “My goal in dealing with procrastination isn’t to get more done. I want to get more of the right things done.”

The book starts out by describing procrastination as: “an intentional delay of something we could do but choose not to. Although it might include a shifting of priorities, its root cause is our resistance toward the task.” Glynnis says that once we identify the why, or the reasons for our delays, we can then strategize the how for dealing with them. Following are just a few reasons why some of us procrastinate:

  • We make choices against what we know is best to avoid physical or emotional discomfort.
  • We are bombarded by texts, emails, phone calls, private messages, and social media connections. Others often expect a prompt response, and so we drop everything to reply, which then derails our own projects and plans for the day.
  • When we are overwhelmed with too much to do and we are faced with the choice between an easy accomplishment that we can check off our list or a harder, more demanding task (that would require facing a weakness), we often take the easier route. So the hard stuff doesn’t get done.
  • Some of us are perfectionists. If we can’t do something perfectly, we tend to not want to do it at all. “Perfection is the enemy of learning and growing and enjoying areas of life where we haven’t achieved mastery.”

Whatever the reason, there is always a cost for each decision we make to choose one task or thing over another. Glynnis details the price we pay in the ways of character, calling, unmet potential, health, and relationships. But procrastination may also cost us in peace, disorder, hurry, and disobedience to God. She then goes on to share some suggestions for replacing bad habits with good as well as some guidance for strengthening willpower and becoming a wise time manager. (I can’t cover all of that information here, so you’ll just have to read the book yourself.)

At the beginning of the book, Glynnis suggests that readers identify two tasks or projects that they have been procrastinating on — one small task and one larger, personal goal. At the end of each chapter, she asks us to revisit these two items and write down some practical applications between them and what we just learned. While reading this book, I have to admit that I did not make as much progress as I had hoped in my larger, personal goal. I still have some of my own procrastination issues to work through for that. However, I am pleased to say that I did have success with the regular task that I had chosen to manage better. Perhaps Taming the To-Do List would be helpful to you as well.

 A couple excerpts from the book: 

“Always remember that procrastination doesn’t
define you. Your worth and value will never be found
in how quickly you complete a task or how many items
you check off your to-do list.”

“All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination. … Sometimes the right thing is to reschedule, reevaluate, or change our plans. Sometimes we have to abandon preset goals for a greater goal. Other times God has us do a 180-degree turn, and it would be disobedient to keep going the same direction. Sometimes God gives us a blessing, or allows a challenge, that requires us to postpone our plans. A wise woman listens and watches to see what God might be doing. And she adapts her plans to His when necessary.”

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Online Overview

No matter how hard women work or how much they accomplish in a day, there’s lingering anxiety and guilt over what they didn’t do. We just wish the world would stop for a day so we could catch up.

Glynnis Whitwer has identified what makes us feel so overburdened—and it’s probably not what you think. Taming the To-Do List exposes a seismic shift in our society: from one in which most of us were proactive toward one where we now carry the burden of having to respond—to every email, text, tweet, and message we receive. This major shift creates a cycle where everyone else sets the priorities for our days, rather than us designing our own lives.

Taming the To-Do List addresses this significant change in how we manage our time and the issue of procrastination from a woman’s point of view. It addresses the common household tasks many women put off, like doing housework and scheduling doctor’s appointments, and moves on to the larger, more life-impacting delays of dreams and goals. Combining practical, easy-to-apply advice with solid research and biblical truth, this book is a compassionate yet challenging message of hope for those struggling to choose their best work over busy work.

Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Executive Director of Communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She is the editor and one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 750,000 daily readers. Glynnis and her husband Tod have five young adult children live in Glendale, Arizona. Visit http://www.GlynnisWhitwer.com or http://www.Proverbs31.org to learn more.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Revell, in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Christmas Prayer

I was going through some of my old files and found this lovely prayer from Julie Gillies and her devotional book Prayers for a Woman’s Soulthat I wanted to share with you. While it was written for the Christmas season, you could easily take out the mention of Christmas and the holiday season and substitute any busy season in your life when you feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. Why not take a moment and pray this for yourself:

Dear Lord,

You know my heart and You see the stress and distractions that take up entirely too much room there this time of year. Right now I choose to place every stressful and distracting situation into Your loving and capable hands, and I ask You to refresh and revive my heart.

Help me to keep You as my main focus, in spite of the busyness of the holidays. Help me to turn to You, think of You, and talk to You as I go about these busy days of preparation. Hold me in Your peace and help me cling to You in the moments I feel overwhelmed.

Please give me grace to deal with all the people, events, gatherings and plans on my calendar this holiday season. Give me wisdom, energy, and the strength I need to meet obligations and needs. Help me to eat right and get the amount of sleep my body requires, and on days that doesn’t happen, give me more grace.

Most of all, Lord, help me to stay close to You, because in Your presence is fullness of joy. I long to not only experience Your joy and peace this Christmas, but I long to radiate it to others. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

I originally read this in a blog post by Glynnis Whitwer, “Praying for yourself is not selfish!” It’s from 2012, but it’s still very relevant today. Check out her blog when you get a chance. She always has some wonderful words to share.

Meanwhile, I pray that you will enjoy a blessed Christmas filled with hope, peace, joy, and love.

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“The
Lord is near.
Do not be anxious
about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God. And the peace of
God, which transcends all understanding, will
guard your hearts and
minds
in
Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:4–7, NIV)