Work Better: A Christian Primer on Productivity
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Fighting Busyness and Promoting Rest During the Holidays

The sinister threat of busyness is never more present than during the holidays. What should be a time of rest, celebration, and reflection on the coming of Jesus (first and second!) easily becomes a time of rushing, stress, and survival. 

Christians need to be on their guard against the alluring traps of the season. We've all been there - Doing so much that our vacation is anything but a restful break. Participating in the lie that our lives are only as good as our possessions. Spending more time around family but feeling less invested in them than the endless chores.

Of course, there are things that need to be done during the holiday season. Shopping, decorating, planning, cooking, and traveling. But each of these things should add to our appreciation of the massive significance of what we celebrate - that God has come to us as a human, and will come again. My suggestion is to go back to basics in order to prevent busyness and promote rest during the holidays:

1) Make a list of everything that needs to be done during the month.

Get it out of your head and down on paper. Don't worry about how or when you'll do it yet, just get it all out. This prevents the same things from bouncing around in your head over and over, ratcheting up your anxiety each time. Some of the stress of the holidays is avoidable if we do a bit of planning ahead.

2) Cross off everything you can that doesn't add to the real reason for the season. 

Ruthlessly eliminating unnecessary things is key for productivity. The secret is not doing more, but doing the right things. For each item on your list, ask if you're doing these things to fulfill someone else's expectations, because it's always been done that way, or truly because it heightens the celebration. Be willing to do less in order to celebrate more. 

Of course, you still have to shop and do some less-than-desirable tasks, which is why you should next...

3) Reconsider those essential things that are usually a source of stress and pray that they too can add to your communion with God and community this season. 

Because God is always present and because each of the tasks on our list is a small service to him, we can celebrate even within our work and not only when it is all finished. It is worth praying over the many things that must be done, confessing our busyness, and asking God to be with us. Even the hardest parts of the holidays can be a source of joy and fellowship if we look for the grace waiting to be found.

And finally, to promote productivity and thus a sense of rest that all will be done in good time...

4) Schedule a time to accomplish each thing on the list.

Divide your tasks throughout the month. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day. It feels so good to have things down where you can see them and know that everything has a due date. It gives the rest of knowing you don't have to do everything at once. You just have to do the next thing. Don't underestimate the power of a good list and schedue to clear the mind!

I wonder, what do you do to fight busyness and promote rest during the holidays?

I wish a restful, merry season to you all.

Hi, I'm Jacob! I'm an at-home Dad and pastor in Fort Worth, TX, writing about productivity and rest. I'd love to hear from you about how I can write things that will help you specifically. You can talk to me via Facebook, Twitter, or email. And don’t forget to grab my free e-book!