You know those days where you set out to accomplish everything — Those days when you are ready to conquer the world! Those days when you decide you will cross off every item on your to-do list!…
I wonder how many of “those days” turn out as we hoped. I wonder if any of them stay on schedule ever — at least to the extent to which they’re planned out.
Recently, I experienced the typical derailed day.
I left the house with all I would need from 9 am to 9 pm. In that time frame, I was ready to conquer the world (my little world, that is). But I found my plans getting quickly interrupted. I went from going full speed, to snail-paced. People were slowing me down…and honestly, I was a little irritated. Not irritated at the people (whom I actually greatly love), but at the fact that the day wasn’t panning out to be all I envisioned.
But then I remembered the truth that fixed my attitude in .2 seconds.
Follow me on this. Ultimately I want to be productive in order to use my life well for God. I want to please God. And in front of me was an opportunity to do one of the things that pleases God most. In essence, it’s God’s major “to-do list item” for me: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Would it really be appropriate to rush past this opportunity (or get irritated amidst this opportunity) so I can get a little further on my to-do list for the day? No way. At that moment I knew I needed to embrace the interruption to my plan and love the person in front of me. In so doing, I was accomplishing the best possible thing with my time.
Embracing the Interruptions
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being productive. Consider the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus explains that we are given resources, and God expects us to use them well. In other words, we have been given time and abilities, and we should be working hard to maximize both.
But our productivity is not the end – it’s just the means to the end. The “end,” or the goal, is to live our life to please God. More specifically, we should filter our life through his top 2 commands— to love God and love others. Thus, when “interruptions” occur that involve fulfilling either of those commands, we ought to forsake the idea altogether that they are interruptions, and see them as the more important agenda for the day.
Some of you who read this love social interruptions to an otherwise “boring day” filled with productivity. If you are in that category, you probably don’t need this post, and you likely need to focus on the task at hand, and remain diligent. But for the woman who loves to check things off a list, and knows she needs to welcome disruptions more joyfully, here are 3 tips to help you embrace the interruptions:
1. Plan flexibly
Though we enter most of our plans into our phone, picture writing your plans with pencil. You remember the old phrase “I’ll pencil it in”?— this is the mindset we should keep with our plans. We should be ready to erase them at a moment’s notice if the right thing to do involves a change of course for the day.
2. Leave wiggle room
Some things are important and need to be accomplished in a timely manner. This gets tricky if you plan to not run from random interruptions. Hence, wiggle room.
When possible plan ahead, work ahead, and don’t leave important tasks for the last minute. If you are working ahead, when you need to slow down to show someone love, you can afford to. You might still have to play some catch-up — especially to get ahead for the more distant future — but an interruption won’t ruin you if you are diligent earlier on.
3. Remember how “productive” loving people is
If you are all about maximizing your time, know that an interruption involving caring for people is a wonderful use of your time. Before you get tense or irritated because you are being slowed down, just remember: you’re not being slowed down, your course is just changing directions a bit.
Go Get ‘Em, Go-Getter!
For you productivity lovers, it’s really like I am reminding you that there is another area that is super important to be productive in (loving others).
What makes this category unique is the fact that you never know when it is going to pop up on your schedule. So plan flexibly, leave some wiggle room, and keep reminding yourself you’re still being entirely productive if you are choosing to joyfully “love your neighbor as yourself.” — even if it seems like you are slowing down.