Hacking Your Checklist


Have you ever made a checklist of all the things you needed to get done? Many people interested in being more productive have become list makers; every morning they get up and write out a checklist of all the things they need to accomplish by bedtime. The upside to checklists is that at the end of the day we can look back at everything we checked off and feel like we accomplished something.

Our list is essentially an organized collection of our daily priorities that are consistently task oriented. It’s full of jobs, or things that we need to do. Our list of daily priorities shows that we are very focused on what we want to accomplish and what we need – I need to buy dog food, I need to go to the gym, I need to mow the yard. The problem with a checklist is that no matter how many times you check it off there is always a new one tomorrow full of new priorities, new jobs and new needs. The inbox gets full again. Laundry gets dirty again. The yard needs to be mowed again. But what if there was a way to hack your checklist to keep you from experiencing the endless cycle of task management? Maybe we have been building our checklists all wrong.

Jesus had something to say to people who were worried about all the things on their list. They were focused on all they needed to do to make enough money to feed and clothe their families. Their lists were full of all the religious rites and activities they needed to check off for the day in order to be right with God. They were people like us – just trying to make it through all the things of life that need to get done. In the middle of all this Jesus spoke to the heart of how to hack your checklist:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33

Here is what Jesus is saying in a nutshell: you are putting the wrong things on your list! You plan your day out by thinking about all the things that need to get done, but what if you prioritize your day not by the things you need to do, but by the person you want to become? There are two shifts you can begin making today to hack your checklist that can change both your productivity and your life.


1. Prioritize Knowing God

When you seek God first, above and before everything else, Jesus tells us that everything else will be taken care of. God is less interested in what you accomplish than in how close you are to him. How devastated would I be if my kids spent all their time trying to achieve success in school in order to please me if it meant that I never got to spend any time with them? I don’t really care what my kids accomplish as long as we are close. That’s the kind of closeness God wants with us, and when we prioritize our relationship with God, he promises to facilitate it by picking up the slack in other areas of our lives.

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37


2. Prioritize Who You Want to Become

Completing tasks feels great, but it will never make you better. When you plan your day you need to think about the things that will help you become the person you want to become. What are your personal and spiritual goals? Do you want to be in better shape? Do you want to know the Bible better? Do you want to have better control of your anger? These questions should shape the lists you make and the steps you take every day.

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Romans 12:2

When your checklist becomes less about what you do and more about who you are and who you love most, you will find that the most important things to you are getting the most attention. God’s heart for you is not that you have a growing list, but that you have a growing life.

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