1) Listen and Read the Bible at the Same Time

Have you ever started reading your bible and about 10 minutes later you are thinking about how you are going to respond to that email, what the rest of the week looks like, or what you want to have for lunch?

Yep. Me too.

I was talking to my buddy Mike about this one night and he mentioned he had started listening to the Bible app, while reading it at the same time.

I tried it and instantly saw results. It keeps you on track, and focused, and at the same time still allows you to read alongside so you are reading scripture vs. just listening. I think listening has it’s benefits, but reading the words on a page helps bury it in your mind and soul.

I use the Bible app, but I’m sure there are a lot of other great apps out including Dwell which I use for more of a meditation style listening.

On the Bible app, it allows me to actually follow along and it scans through the scripture so I don’t have to scroll, or what I prefer to actually do is grab a Bible with the same translation that’s being read aloud and actually follow along in my physical Bible.

The listening portion is not meant to replace my reading time, but actually keep me focused to the scripture I’m reading for that day.

I’ve found it much easier to read through my 30 minute reading five foundation goal by doing it this way then just trying to listen and get distracted or read and have my thoughts drift off.

2) Use an Action Based Alarm Clock

I’m not sure about ya’ll, but for me – if I don’t get up early, the day begins to crowd around me and cover me up before I even know what hit me. I have to get up early if I’m going to set the day up right.

The alarm clock that I’ve been using for a while is called alarmy, it is an action based alarm clock.

Alarmy allows you to set an alarm clock that requires you to do an action before it turns off.  There are several different options including math problems, take a photo (you actually take one photo of somewhere in your house, and the alarm doesn’t go off until you actually take a photo of the same place, which is what I currently have mine set on), or you can upgrade to get some additional options but I’ve found that the math problems set to hard or higher, or the photo option does the trick to get my feet out of bed and stay out of bed once I’m up.

An alarm clock might not seem like an obvious Gospel focused productivity hack, but I believe that God gives us common graces, and yes, an alarm clock app could be one of those common graces that helps us get up, get into His word, and stay productive through the rest of the day.

I’m not sure about ya’ll, but for me – if I don’t get up early, the day begins to crowd around me and cover me up before I even know what hit me. I have to get up early if I’m going to set the day up right. Maybe you aren’t a morning person, that’s okay – I’m just speaking from personal experience. Although, I’ve also found that if you aren’t a morning person typically you aren’t an evening person either, it’s just easier to say that you aren’t a morning person.

The alarm clock that I’ve been using for a while is called alarmy, it is an action based alarm clock but I’m sure there are a lot of other apps or tools out there it just happens to be the one that I use.

Alarmy allows you to actually set an alarm clock that requires you to do an action before it goes off, there are several different options including math problems, take a photo (you actually take one photo of somewhere in your house, and the alarm doesn’t go off until you actually take a photo of the same place, which is what I currently have mine set on), you can upgrade to get some additional options but I’ve found that the math problems set to hard or higher, or the photo option does the trick to get my feet out of bed and stay out of bed once I’m up.

An alarm clock might not seem like an obvious Gospel focused productivity hack, but I believe that God gives us common graces, and yes, an alarm clock app could be one of those common graces that helps us get up, get into His word, and stay productive through the rest of the day.

3) Start My Morning with Thankfulness

Giving thanks is just one of those morning rituals that I ignored for a very, very long time. I thought it was a little bit of “the secret” or too Tony Robbins style of just wishing something into existence, but once you really start to dive into what scripture says about thankfulness you will see this is not a secular view point that Christians have molded into their own, but more so, something that God created so that He could speak into our lives.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 – Psalm 100:4-5

Starting my morning with thankfulness or gratitude in my LifeJournal gives me the opportunity to start the morning with a positive and pro-active approach to the day. I can reflect on what happened yesterday, and realize the blessings that God poured into my life, even if I got to the end of that day exhausted, impatient with my kids, or just stressed with anxiety about what the next day holds.

This exercise can be as quick as 30 seconds, but it has the ability to produce an aftershock throughout the rest of your day.

4) One-line Journaling

I don’t know if there is a more official title for this type of journaling, I’m sure there have been research papers done, trade-marks created, but this is just something I started doing on a Euro-trip almost 10 years ago that has changed the way I’ve thought about journaling. On that trip I wanted to keep track of what we were doing, what we were seeing, and impactful or funny things that happened along the way.

Instead of sitting down for 30 minutes each night, or trying to find a place on the train or hostel that was quiet enough to actually be able to think for that long of a time, I realized I needed a much more efficient way to journal about the days without worrying about what was going to happen if I missed a day or didn’t fill out an entire page worth of words.

I pulled up my notes app on my iPhone, put the date and location at the top and then just started writing one or two word phrases (sometimes longer) of things, food, or events that happened throughout the day.

The crazy thing is, I can still look at that list, or shoot a screenshot of it to my friends Nick and Tom that were on that trip, and we can instantly recall that exact moment in time. I can read two or three words, and I’m taken back to that exact spot, I can smell the smells, feel the weather and remember exactly what was going on.

So why is this important?

Because if I had tried to sit down and write for 30 minutes each night, yes I might have had some more detail, but I would have lost more than likely over 50% of the days, I would have missed out on other opportunities to spend time with people from around the world, and I honestly would have just not taken the time to do it.

I started applying this to my own life, and to my own way of journaling.

I do from time to time still sit down and write out in long form what’s going on in my life, what areas I want to work on, and how I need or am asking God to move in my life, but the one-line journaling technique makes such a huge difference in making sure I journal each day. With one-line journaling I can jump back a week, a month, a year, or even 10 years and remember everything that had happened in vivid detail.

Now I can journal something funny my son, Shepherd said, or one of Judah’s first steps, words, etc. or maybe write down an amazing meal that my Wife, Neva, cooked that night that I want to remember.

It makes journaling something I can do, and will do.

5) Eat Healthy; for Faith-based Productivity

First, I am not a doctor and don’t pretend to play one on TV. However, I also believe that our health and how we take care of our body (temple) is a spiritual discipline. I’ll be the first to admit this is not always my way of operation, but I’ve been getting more and more aware of how what I eat and how/if I exercise not only effects my physically life, but also my spiritual and emotional outlook.

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
– 1st Corinthians 6:19-20

Keep in mind, I say all of this on day 15 of Whole 30. I’ve done Whole 30 once before about 4 years ago. My wife came to me about two months ago and asked if we wanted to try it in June. So we did.

If you haven’t looked into Whole 30, it’s basically a grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, no processed foods, all Whole Foods (hints the name) diet. I have a hard time saying diet because both times that I’ve done it, you realize it’s not about weight loss or trying to look a certain way, which I feel like most diets are geared towards.

Whole 30 really focuses on realizing how addicted and tied to food we are, and for me, how much of a spiritual issue it can be.

All that to say, I’ve never had more energy than when I am on Whole 30.

Which I feel like is a very interesting comparison to how we feel when we are in God’s word, and praying, and journaling and meditating on His word on a daily basis. We have more spiritual energy to give more grace. To look more like Jesus. We feel more connected to God. We start to see His heart and His character and how he will provide for us, and has provided for us no matter what happens.

Day 15 of Whole 30 means you are over the part where you are dreaming of chips and queso or a Whataburger cheeseburger with creamy pepper sauce. I’m not going to say it has been easy, but I am very very thankful my wife suggested for us to start on June 1st.

Whole 30 has made me realize how much more productive I am without those processed foods in my life.

If something allows me to wake up with out feeling groggy, push through lunch without feeling like I need to take a nap, and be able to put my kids to sleep at night without falling to sleep in their bed – isn’t that something that maybe feels a bit like it’s Gospel focused? I think so.

Dawson Russell

Dawson Russell

Dawson Russell is a founder of Gospel Focused, LifeJournal and Faithly. Dawson lives in Austin, Tx with his wife Neva, and two boys Shepherd and Judah. When not exploring Faith-based productivity, Dawson enjoys photography, tex-mex, flying his drone, and the outdoors.

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5 Gospel Productivity Hacks That Changed My Life

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