There are thousands of books, blog posts, and essays on productivity – which is why I don’t generally write on the topic. With so many experts sharing their productivity hacks, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of value that I can currently add to the conversation.
However, thanks to a friend’s prompting (Mitch), I’ve nearly finished reading through the Bible and have discovered some amazing productivity hacks in the process! Regardless of whether you’re religious or not, implementing these tips from the Bible will undoubtedly improve your own work performance.
While you’ve probably thought of some of these productivity hacks in the past, I am relatively confident that you haven’t seen them all. Even if you read the Bible on a regular basis, a few may have slipped past.
So, from one of the oldest books of wisdom we have available, here are some great productivity hacks:
1. Start Your Day the Evening Before
Anyone who reads through Genesis 1 notices the phrase “and there was evening, and there was morning – the 1st (2nd, 3rd, etc) day”.
Is this just some bizarre Hebrew poetry, or is there reasoning behind the “evening” being mentioned before the “morning”? This is a question that scholars and scientists still debate.
However, from a productivity perspective, it makes perfect sense. The way you spend your evening has a profound influence on your productivity the following day.
If you stay up late, have a hard time sleeping, or fail to plan for the next day’s activities, you can end up with a very unproductive day. Meanwhile, when you go to bed early, eat well, sleep well, and plan for the following morning, your success rate increases significantly.
Your day’s productivity is largely based on the decisions you make the evening before.
2. Keep the Sabbath
The 4th of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
It’s common knowledge that the most productive people are those who take time off.
According to recent studies (as mentioned in the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time) the most productive employees are those who work just under 40 hours a week.
From the very first chapters of the Bible, we are told to take a day off from work every week – and we will actually be blessed because of it! And science supports this. Make an effort to take a day off from work to rest, relax, and reflect, and your productivity improves because of it.
Take a day a week to relax, reflect, and rest – and watch your productivity soar.
3. Focus on the Positive
Philippians 4:3 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
It may be common knowledge, but it’s worth repeating: the more we focus on the positive, the more energy we have achieve the tasks we face on a daily basis.
Many of the meditation and positive thinking activities that are popular today come back to these concepts of resting and focusing on the positive.
Focusing on the positive gives you energy to achieve today’s activities.
4. Don’t Just Talk, Do
Proverbs has a plethora of great thoughts worth mentioning, one of which is found in chapter 14, verse 23, which states, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty”.
As someone who is overtly enthusiastic and entrepreneurial, I probably have more “ideas” conversations than the average person. I love hearing, sharing, and brainstorming business ideas!
One thing I’ve discovered over the year’s is that everyone wants to be part of a million dollar business. However, very few people are willing to put in the necessary work to make it happen.
It doesn’t matter how long you talk, until you start to work, your idea is worthless.
Productivity requires planning, followed by action.
5. Follow the Law and Pay Your Taxes
Jesus is quoted in three of the Gospel’s as saying “Give onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” when someone asked him whether or not they should pay a tax that the population felt was unfair.
What does this have to do with productivity? Well, when you try to cheat the system, if you get caught, your productivity drops substantially!
One great example comes from Richard Branson, the British business tycoon. When he was first starting his music business, he smuggled records into the UK to avoid paying taxes. It worked a few times, but then he got caught, fined, and almost imprisoned.
Sure, the government might seem annoying sometime (or the rules set in place by your employer), but it is your responsibility to follow them – and you’ll be more productive in the long-run if you actually do.
Disregarding the law for an easy win rarely benefits your long-term productivity.
6. Treat Others with Respect
As Jesus is quoted with saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.
The single-most effective way to increase your productivity is to outsource (or delegate) some of your responsibilities to others. If other people are able to do something for you in less time, or at a lower rate, your productivity has suddenly improved!
Therefore, if you can figure out how to maximize the productivity of those who work for (or with) you, your ability to produce will increase.
To do this, however, it is critical that you treat others fairly – which means that you treat them the same way you would want them to treat you if the roles were reversed.
For example, when you pay your team a fair wage, they’ll be happy to work with you for the long-term, reducing your turnover rates (and hiring a new employee can cost more than the first year of pay for a new hire). Meanwhile, when you provide the level of quality to your customers that you would want yourself, they will stay around – limiting the amount of time you need to spend replacing that income.
Treating others with respect helps you maximize the productivity benefits of your team, customers, and work associates.
7. Get Advice When Needed
Proverbs also says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (15:22).
Most challenges and activities that you take on have already been accomplished by someone else. Finding these people, and asking for their advice, will save you countless hours and headaches.
Although it can be tempting to do everything on your own, we all know the innate wisdom in this advice.
Save yourself time by seeking out and listening to the advice of others.
8. Focus on Profitable and Worthwhile Activities
Another great proverb says “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense” (Proverbs 12:11).
While finding productivity hacks and creative strategies for solving problems can be fun and beneficial, sometimes you just need to buckle down and do what you know works.
Too many people (especially when it comes to entrepreneurship) decide to take a big risk on something they are unfamiliar with, rather than scaling something that they already know how to do.
In the past I’ve launched a business in the music industry and it flopped – largely because I wasn’t familiar with how to succeed in that market. However, once I realized that I could make a few dollars writing, and started growing that business, I’ve been able to become a relatively successful copywriter.
Pursue what you know works, rather than chasing after fantasful ideas and trivial pursuits.
9. Be Content with What You Have and Who You Are
The last of the Ten Commandments says that “You shall not covet…. anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
Happiness comes from not having need for anything else. While most people take this to mean that they will be happy once they’ve acquired more, in reality, it means that you’ll become happy once you become content with what you currently have.
When we focus on competing with our neighbors, rather pursuing what truly makes us happy, our ability to produce will be hindered by our pride and competitive spirit.
Sure, you need to be motivated and work hard – but do it for the right reasons. By content with what you have, don’t try to outdo others, and focus your energy and activities that will have a positive impact on the world around you.
Focus your productivity on activities that matter to you, rather than on trying to keep up with the expectations of someone else.
10. Give Thanks to God and Realize That We are Not the End All
Finally, we can maximize our productivity when we realize that life is about something greater than ourselves. For many, that means remembering that “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). For non-religious, that may simply mean recognizing that there is a force, law, or science higher than ourselves.
The world will keep spinning, even if we’re gone. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind the more important elements of life so that we are productive in ways that really matter.
The ancient Greek Stoics would actually spend 5 minutes every day thinking about death, believing that this would help them more fully live. I think there’s something to that. When we realize our mortality, and place our trust in something external to ourselves, we can discover far greater meaning in what we do.
For the comments: What are your thoughts on these productivity hacks from the Bible? Are there any more you would like to add?