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Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

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Don’t try to do it all. Do more good. Better.

I am no productivity guru. I am a writer, a church leader, a husband, and a father—a Christian with a lot of responsibilities and with new tasks coming at me all the time. I wrote this short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world. Whether you are a student or a professional, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, it will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good to the glory of God. In Do More Better , you will
It really is possible to live a calm and orderly life, sure of your responsibilities and confident in your progress. You can do more better. And I would love to help you get there.

128 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 1, 2015

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About the author

Tim Challies

45 books1,406 followers
Tim Challies is a leading evangelical blogger. A self-employed web designer, Tim lives in the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario with his wife and children.

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5 stars
1,460 (41%)
4 stars
1,312 (37%)
3 stars
592 (16%)
2 stars
112 (3%)
1 star
44 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 614 reviews
Profile Image for David Steele.
Author 6 books188 followers
November 30, 2015
Here’s a lofty claim: “I believe this book can improve your life.” This is a claim we’ve all heard before. Infomercials, hucksters, and television preachers make similar claims. The net result is generally less than satisfying. The consumer usually walks away from such a claim with a lighter wallet, a bruised ego, and more skepticism to boot.

Tim Challies is hedging his bets in his new book, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. He believes that lives will be changed if readers will invest a bit of time in his book.

Do More Better (DMB) is a fitting title as the author sets out to help readers lead more productive lives. But DMB should not be confused with the typical self-help books that saturate most book stores. It should not even be compared to some of the most popular books on the discipline of productivity. Works like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, What’s Best Next by Matthew Perman, or Getting Things Done by David Allen made their respective contributions in the field of productivity.

But DMB truly stands alone in a sea of books that promise productivity. The author argues that our lives must begin with a solid foundation. Ultimately, this foundation must rest on a commitment to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Glorifying God involves doing good works and making God look good. In typical Reformation fashion, the author reminds readers that good works are only possible because of Christ’s completed work on the cross.

So the author encourages readers to establish productivity on the solid rock of the gospel. Indeed, this is the highest form of productivity, namely, a life that “glorifies God by doing good to others.” This lofty aim is what sets DMB apart from other books on productivity.

Challies highlights several barriers to productivity, what he calls “productivity thieves.” Readers are encouraged to structure and organize their lives so they can do “maximum good for others,” which in turn brings maximum glory to God. The call to Christian character is a dominant theme here. The author argues, “No amount of organization and time management will compensate for lack of Christian character, not when it comes to this great calling of glory through good – bringing glory to God by doing good to others.”

Next, DMB urges readers to define their responsibilities and their roles. Responsibilities are general items such as personal, family, and church. Roles are more specific. For example, personal roles may include spiritual fitness, physical fitness, administration, etc.

Readers are then encouraged to write a purpose statement for each area of responsibility. Challies gives helpful examples to help assure success in this area.

Three tools are recommended for maximum productivity: a task management tool, scheduling tool, and information tool. Challies points readers to digital tools that will help and encourage personal productivity. Specific action steps are spelled out for each tool. Ultimately, readers are challenged to “live the system” that is presented in the book.

I have been reading about personal productivity for nearly twenty-five years. I have benefited from some of the works mentioned earlier. But once again, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, by Tim Challies truly stands alone. Three features set this book apart. This work is God-centered, practical, and offers users immediate help that is sure to boost personal productivity. I commend this excellent work and trust that God will use it to encourage many people!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
Profile Image for Jordan.
12 reviews3 followers
January 7, 2016
This book didn't have much useful information for me. I can see how it would greatly benefit someone who has frequent appointments, receives dozens of emails every day, has a demanding career, etc. I'm a stay-at-home mom with few tasks to do outside of the home; my at-home tasks are routine and obvious enough that I don't need an electronic system to remind myself to do them.

What benefited me the most in this book was in chapter 2 under "Productivity Thieves". I haven't considered myself to be lazy in general, enjoying productivity and most of my tasks in the home, but the section about laziness helped me to finally realize that my disdain for making dinner every day is because I've been lazy about it. I had wondered for over a year what could be done about what I considered to be an awful task, but couldn't pinpoint why I disliked it so much. I finally had the epiphany that I have been lazy in that area, and now I can do something about it.

I do appreciate Challies' enthusiasm about productivity, and that he clearly wants to help others in what is a noble goal.
Profile Image for Keren Threlfall.
Author 1 book45 followers
January 12, 2016
"Do More Better" by Tim Challies is a practical introduction to personal productivity. Specifically, Challies delivers a productivity guide to organizing life and setting up systems in the online world. His advice is applicable to the stay-at-home mom to the pastor to the young entrepreneur building an online business. (As a counterpoint, these are probably not productivity tips that the Luddite, blue-collar worker, or offline elderly person could use.)

On the productivity side, the book was stellar. Simple, yet specific and precise. And that's usually a big pro when it comes to this genre.

On the theology side, I felt things were a bit forced at times: in other words, here's a productivity book, and here's some wooden theology to accompany it. However, that was not always the case and there were many portions which where rich and gracious, understanding that application will differ in various walks and seasons of life.

My (and my husband's) main concern was the legalistic feel at some points of the book, especially in portions that conveyed the idea, "you don't have a productivity problem; you have a theology problem." For the reader who already wrestles with guilt for "not doing enough," such portions may be a challenge.

On the practical side, this is a helpful and efficient guide to setting up Todoist, Evernote, and Google Calendar in a way that can allow users and reader to...well, do more better.

For those who are looking for a productivity book that more thoroughly integrates theology and productivity, I highly recommend Matt Perman's "What's Best Next," although it is not as specific in it's system setup guide.
Profile Image for Tom Sussex.
32 reviews12 followers
May 25, 2019
In my quest to become a "productive" person, this book has been helpful in reminding me why I should want to become productive anyway. A book centered on God's glory and delivered in a very practical way!
Profile Image for Ashley Bacon.
244 reviews13 followers
October 2, 2019
This book is exactly as advertised, a immensely practical guide to productivity. It gives app ideas, teaches how to use them, and is an overall motivator for organization and systems to help us to do more better. I grabbed some good tips!
Profile Image for Libby Powell.
176 reviews31 followers
November 3, 2021
This is an immensely practical little book. It's written in an easy-to-read style, is quick, and encouraging. I appreciated Challies' concise explanation and constant reminder of the true goal of pursuing productivity - that is, to glorify God by doing good to others... or simply, to do more better.

On a practical note, Challies' doesn't leave readers hanging with the question of "what next?", but offers a step by step guide, leading the reader through the process of organizing life to be well-suited to productivity. Some might not appreciate this approach as much, but I found it was exactly what I needed.

Do More Better wasn't really that deep, but it was perfect for its purpose. Definitely a keeper!
Profile Image for Bambi Moore.
256 reviews28 followers
February 3, 2019
I loved the opening chapters on the theology of productivity. I doubt I will ever invest the time learning to use the apps he recommends. But it has inspired me to re-examine my priorities and pull out my categorized spiral notebooks again 😬 to plan special times with family/church and keep writing topics from dropping off the edges of my brain.
Profile Image for Bess.
95 reviews23 followers
June 30, 2023
This book was a disappointment to me. It is full of little other than common sense measures of organizational tactics. Is glorifying God measured by productivity?
I will say I do usually enjoy Tim Chalilles blog and other writings. This one book in Particular was disappointing. Not everyone can do you all the things he listed in his book. Does that mean that they don’t glorify God in their life? Is glorifying God a list of do’s and don’ts?
Profile Image for Jami Balmet.
Author 8 books582 followers
February 7, 2017
A short, sweet, and to the point book on productivity! Challies gives a great look into how he organizes his time, keeps tracks of projects and to do lists, and most importantly: doing this all for God's glory! A terrific mix of practical application and thought provoking theology. I listened to it as an audio book and can't wait to get my physical copy for reference.
Profile Image for Rachelle Cobb.
Author 8 books290 followers
January 12, 2019
Nothing like what I expected! I didn’t realize he comes at productivity from a Christian perspective. But I actually enjoyed the introductory concept chapters where he talks about that (but I wasn’t expecting it so I can sorta see how the one-star reviewers feel blindsided by this). 

You would probably think this book is a waste of time if you have your own productivity system (say, bullet journaling). Tim’s main purpose for this book is to walk thru his own system. I LOVED it and will be thinking about my life in terms of Areas of Responsibility now (Personal, Marriage, Work, Home, Social) <— this is how I’ve restructured Todoist now and I adore it. I also love how he outlines you should have three systems: a scheduling system like Google Cal, task management system like Todoist, and information hub (I use Google Drive like he uses Evernote).

BUT I think this book just hit me at the right time when I was already rearranging how I categorize life... as it doesn’t contain anything life-changing. 

I’d think of it more as a Productivity 101 class (or even as a remedial / refresher 100?) that I’d recommend for folks looking to get their life in order. I was ready for a re-order and so I found it helpful. :)
Profile Image for Brenda.
355 reviews
December 12, 2017
It seemed appropriate to read a book by Mr. Challies to satisfy one of the Challies Reading Challenge categories. This was a short audio book (just under 3 hours) from hoopla, and I do wish I had read a print copy and taken notes. Although sometimes his methods seemed complicated, they probably aren't. His enthusiasm was contagious. I wanted to get the software, get myself organized, and get going! Follow-through is always my problem, and he was pretty blunt that being organized and productive takes discipline and time to build good habits. And, of course, Mr. Challies reminds us several times that the motivation for improving productivity is ultimately to bring glory to God. He offered this quote from C. S. Lewis that resonated with me: "The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day."

I may come back to this one and try to implement some of his suggestions.
Profile Image for Mike Collins.
43 reviews2 followers
October 15, 2017
I’ve read a decent amount on the subject of productivity, but Do More Better has two outstanding qualities that have made it my favorite book on the subject. First, it’s downright practical. He literally lists step-by-step how to use different apps as part of your time management system. His suggestions are current for people who don’t live by a paper planner. Second, this book has a theological depth like few other books I’ve read on productivity. Charlie’s doesn’t just want his readers to do more: he wants them to do more of what can bring God glory. I’m so glad I read this book.
Profile Image for Ben Robin.
100 reviews64 followers
August 2, 2019
Spectacularly helpful. My current plan is to follow what Challies lays out closely and begin to adapt to my own life and circumstances slowly and slightly. I had been doing some of what he said, but it was mostly only in my head and reactionary. This book offered me a chance to really think about how to get things done in a way that glorifies God and focuses on doing good for others.
Profile Image for Nicholas.
110 reviews
January 1, 2023
Niftly little book with some helpful big-picture productivity motivation from the Bible, and very practical tips and tricks
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
527 reviews180 followers
April 27, 2023
Extremely helpful guide. It'll take some work to actually implement all of these tips, but I love that kind of book :)
Profile Image for Darin.
18 reviews
January 22, 2022
I like books about productivity especially as the year draws near the end or the beginning. This was the first I had read with a spiritual bend which was a blessing. My biggest takeaway from it (most of what he recommends I have been practicing or know I need to be) was the fact that the Lord has made us responsible for certain things (people) and how critical it is that we take care of those things and protect that care with saying no to anything interfering with that responsibility.

Yes, things like using a calendar, task management and document inventory are all good and important to our productivity, but not near as important as making sure we guard the fortress the Lord has entrusted to us.

Sometimes simply one sentence, paragraph, or chapter can make a book well worth the read.
Profile Image for Derek VanRoekel.
85 reviews3 followers
February 4, 2023
This wasn’t very helpful. It was TOO practical - unless you want to manage your productivity exactly like the author, it is excessively specific. I think everything the author said was right for the most part, but it seemed like he focused on obvious things. Im sure there is a better book on productivity out there.
Profile Image for Hobart.
2,396 reviews63 followers
December 22, 2015
★ 1 1/2
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
Abraham Lincoln reportedly said about someone's book, " People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." If it were chronologically possible, he might have been talking about Do More Better. I am not the person who likes this sort of thing, but I have profited from reading some productivity-improvement books -- this does not fit into that category. Could it help some people? I don't see why not, but there's a lot of people who won't see their lives fitting into his mold (count me as one of them).

But honestly? I was turned off by the book before he started the practical section. I'm not going to give a detailed analysis, this isn't the type of blog to do that, but I can give a thumbnail.

The first few chapters, the theory, or groundwork for his productivity guidelines are pretty questionable. Despite Challies' proof-texting, I'm not convinced that any apostle or prophet encouraged anything along these lines (you could make the case that Solomon's Proverbs could be used to these ends, not that I see Challies appealing to them). It looks so much like the kind of schemes we Americans (and, I suppose, Canadians) like -- if I just do X, Y and Z, I can be whatever I want to be. If I eat all my veggies, especially the gross tasting ones, I can grow up big and strong. If I implement Method Q with Style R and Teaching S on a consistent basis, I'll have well-adjusted, successful kids. And so on.

Chapter 5 on are so programmatic, so specific to his own scheme, that it's restrictive (I'm sure he'd argue these aren't hard-and-fast rules, only guidelines, but to implement them as he suggests, you'd pretty much have to treat them as hard and fast for however long it takes to set them as habits). I'd spend so much time for the first few weeks with his book in one hand and my Galaxy Note in the other, just making sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing as far as my Tasks, Calendar and Information were concerned -- even before my weekly Reviews. How would I get anything else done? Good question. As an example -- I've been an Evernote junkie for 4 years now (this was composed on Evernote), but to use it the way he wants me to would take a focused readjustment.

Lastly, this is the kind of book that can only be produced in the affluent West. More than one author/speaker has talked about "The Cave Test" when it comes to evaluating worship "styles" -- if it can be duplicated in a cave while meeting in secret, it's fitting for Christians. While reading this, I wondered just how many countries (or parts thereof) in this world, where practicing Challies' principles would be possible. The fact that a large percentage of the Church could not (and has not) been able to think in these terms -- much less put this into practice -- says a lot about their role in the Christian life.

I suppose I should say something about the writing -- it's certainly competent, clear and succinct. But it's not at all interesting. Can you write about productivity/time management/etc. in an interesting, even entertaining fashion? Sure -- see Chris Hardwick's The Nerdist Way (not at all Rated G) as one example -- but that's not saying you have to. I don't need to be entertained every second of the day, but if you want me to stay with a book (even a short one), you need to be more interesting than my microwave's Instruction Manual. This was just so bland it was hard to keep focused.

I'm not suggesting that no one read this book, if reading the product description makes you think it could help you, I'm not going to argue. But I'm certainly not going to to suggest anyone go out and grab a copy -- or even to borrow one. Do I think it'd be better if he removed his purported theological underpinnings from this? Yes. I'm also convinced it wouldn't make a lick of difference to Chapters 5-10 in application (which speaks volumes).


I received this book from the kind people of Cruciform Press for this review, I hope they don't regret it.
Profile Image for Tim Casteel.
162 reviews53 followers
December 20, 2017
I give 5 stars to books that are life changing.
At first, I was thinking this would be more of a 3 star book. More like an extended blog post than a book.

But lets be honest, I wouldn't take the time to read a series of blog posts on productivity. That's the beauty of books. Books force you to slow down and consider - to think deeply on one topic.

And because this book is so incredibly practical, I feel like it will actually change my life more than other, better productivity books like Essentialism and What's Best Next. If those books are "better", why did I give them 4 stars and this one 5? Because Do More Better has incredible practical steps that will actually make me start doing what I already know.

My advice: read Essentialism and What's Best Next first. To change your heart and beliefs. To convince you of the need to:
- focus/prioritize (Essentialism)
- understand the Biblical, God-honoring motives for productivity (What's Best Next)

Then read Do More Better to actually start making real changes in your schedule and life.
Profile Image for Keenan Casteel.
25 reviews1 follower
October 24, 2016
The topic of leadership/productivity seems to have taken on new life recently. With entrepreneurs, CEO's, "thought gurus", whatever those are, all writing on the matter. I have taken in numerous amounts of "leadership" content in the last several years through books, podcasts, and talks given online and in person. Most of that was regurgitated mambo-jumbo. This isn't. It's practical and easy to implement. Most importantly, Tim approaches productivity from a theological perspective and helps the reader to, as well. After prodding the reader to lay out theologically sourced reasons for productivity, he lays out his simple plan and provides suggestions for tools to make you more productive. And they work. Read this little book, it won't take long and it's well worth the price.
Profile Image for Ryan Boomershine.
342 reviews20 followers
January 11, 2016
Challies is a real gift to the church. Heed this thoughtful book.

You may stumble with the electronic systems he tries to employ, but they are spot on. I use each of them but don't use them well enough. This was a good kick in the pants help to me.

Certainly the value lies in the principles and this book is chock full of wise insight about shepherding time, gifts and resources. There's no good reason not to read this book this year. [Yes, I'm talking to you.]
Profile Image for Robin.
237 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2017
A short and quick practical guide on getting our lives to be more productive, with a heart of wanting to steward our time and resources for the glory of God. A bit intimidating, as it will require one to review and follow his recommendations and processes for greater productivity carefully and intentionally, which I am planning to do, though I am dreading the process and want just the product :). Tips on managing email was also really helpful at the end.
Profile Image for David West.
265 reviews13 followers
January 12, 2020
Read once, listened twice. I just finished that second time through the audiobook. Very practical and helpful. Organization doesn't come naturally to me and Challies makes it simple.

Last date read: 1/2016
Listened last: 10/18
Read again 1.12.20
Profile Image for Matheus Sant'Ana.
13 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2022
O livro é bem prático e direto e traz boas dicas para ser mais produtivo e sempre com a ênfase de ser tudo para a Glória de Deus! Estou implementando algumas dessas práticas e tem sido bom, embora cansativo pegar o ritmo.
Profile Image for Courtney Brewer.
32 reviews25 followers
January 13, 2023
This book served as such a good reminder: “You do not exist in this world to get things done. You exist to glorify God by doing good to others.” At the same time, it was incredibly practical and I am excited to put his system into place and hopefully create more productive habits.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
Author 1 book252 followers
December 31, 2016
Helpful, overall. I'm not going to take the plunge and learn all of the technology that Challies uses, but I'd like to learn to use Evernote. This book is probably most helpful for those who need help with organization. Several typos, and cheap binding. A review by Doug Wilson, and a review by Andy Naselli. Related post here.

5: the point isn't necessarily to do more—the point is to do what you do better (and maybe then you can do more)

Ch. 1: Know Your Purpose
10ff.: productivity catechism
10: "Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose."
11: bring glory to God by doing good works
12: glorify God in ordinary life activities
12: "Good works are deeds done for the glory of God and the benefit of other people."
13: everything can be done for God's glory
15: even imperfect deeds can bring glory to God (because all our deeds are imperfect)
16: "Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God."

Ch. 2: Answer the Call
19: "do the best thing (good for others) for the best goal (the glory of God)"
19-23: three productivity thieves: laziness, busyness, thorns/thistles
20: lazy people don't take risks; it's easy to be lazy these days
21: laziness is doing too little, and busyness is doing too much [cf. the mean of productivity]; society judges us, and we feel validated by our busyness, but busyness isn't the same thing as diligence, faithfulness, or fruitfulness; DeYoung's Crazy Busy quoted
21-22: being lazy leads to being busy . . . which often ends in being lazy again
22: Challies is naturally lazy [me too; Kara is naturally busy]; laziness and busyness are internal factors, and thorns/thistles are external factors
22-23: work itself is not a punishment, but work was cursed
23: bad productivity is a theological problem
24: bad habits should be rooted out and replaced
24-25: productivity is something that affects all of life (better productivity in one area affects other areas)
26: as you aim for better productivity, be intentional and choose a major habit to improve

Ch. 3: Define Your Responsibilities
27: the practical part of the book starts here
28: productivity worksheet available here
28: determine your major areas of responsibility (e.g., personal, family, church, social, business)
31: determine your several roles under each area (e.g., under persona: spiritual fitness, physical fitness)

Ch. 4: State Your Mission
36: learning how to say "no" is easier when you can articulate your mission
39-40: "Generally speaking, you can do more good for others if you have fewer roles and projects than when you have more."
40: Randy Alcorn calls for "planned neglect"
41: learn the slow "yes" and the quick "no"
41-42: for roles that don't fit your mission, drop them, delegate them, or do them (which might mean rewriting your mission so that the role fits)
42: Ed Veith and vocations as God's masks
43: now the audit is complete
44 (Aside): goals can be catalyzing or paralyzing

Ch. 5: Select Your Tools
45: tools come from humans and help us exercise dominion
46: we must remember mundane information, but it's difficult
47-48: task management tool (e.g., todoist.com)
48: scheduling tool (e.g., Google Calendar)
48-49: information tool with universal access and searchability (e.g., Evernote)
49: organizing principle: a home for everything, and like goes with like

Ch. 6: Collect Your Tasks
53: the task management tool is the most crucial
54-58: help on setting up todoist
58: enter tasks immediately; process items at least once a day

Ch. 7: Plan Your Calendar
Typos on pp. 61 and 65
61: an electronic calendar has sharing and notification capabilities
62-63: put only events, meetings, and appointments here, not deadlines or tasks

Ch. 8: Gather Your Information
67: let a tool remember mundane details and let your brain do more important things
68-72: setup and organization on Evernote
70-71: use notebooks and tags (figure out which you like better, but you can use both)
72-73: Evernote can handle lots of different kinds of information (e.g., email, scans, audio, web clippings, mobile pics, Word and Excel, etc.)
76: access and process the information at least once a week
77: use mission statements here
78 (Aside): remember to make the tools work for you, not the other way around

Ch. 9: Live the System
79-80: motivation waxes and wanes, but habit keeps you going—you need a system
82: every day needs planning and execution
84-86: Challies's daily planning routine (should take only a few minutes)
89: know yourself, and adjust accordingly
94: C.S. Lewis: interruptions are part of God's plan
95: avoid the fear of man (saying yes to everything) and pride (saying no to everything)

Ch. 10: Maintain It Consistently
100: serve and surprise
101-07: Challies's weekly review (takes approx. 30 minutes)

Bonus: Tame Your Email
Read an excerpt here.
111-12: four major boxes: inbox, reply, archive, and trash

Bonus: 20 Tips to Increase Your Productivity
115-19: very practical—one of the best parts of the book

120: Challies borrows from C.J. Mahoney, Kevin DeYoung, Randy Alcorn, Gene Edward Veith, R.C. Sproul, C.S. Lewis, and others. I could not find where notes 9-13 appeared in the book (all about Proverbs).
Profile Image for Ryan Hawkins.
359 reviews30 followers
June 24, 2020
I read this at the beginning of 2017 and implemented much of its advice. But in three years, I have gotten lazier with the system, so I decided to read it again. And I’m glad I did. Knowing what was coming, it wasn’t as “new” this time, but it was even better. I was able to appreciate from first hand experience his points. And it was great to be reminded again not only of the system, but of the reason behind the system, namely, glorifying God by doing good to others.

I totally recommend this book to any, but particularly Christians, who are looking to streamline some of the craziness of their life and schedule. It’s a quick, easy read, but has lasting benefits.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 614 reviews

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