Redeeming Your Time: 7 Biblical Principles for Being Purposeful, Present, and Wildly Productive | Written by Jordan Raynor (Waterbrook, 2021, 215 Pages).
For so many people, life is just too full. There are constant demands and pressures, and a healthy work-church-life balance seems unattainable. We often end up in survival mode, with even enjoyable things becoming just another job on the to-do list.
These realities mean I, like many other people, have read plenty of books on time management, organisation, productivity and effectiveness. Will reading yet another one help? In my case, the answer has been “yes”. Jordan Raynor, an entrepreneur, author and podcaster, draws not only on his own experience but a vast range of other books and research, to present seven principles along with 32 practices, for “redeeming your time.”
Two things make this book a valuable read for over-busy people. First, it is not only a time and task management book but a holistic view of how to use all your time well. In chapter two Raynor does address the essentials of task and workflow management, much along the lines of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It is a great guide to improving the way we manage emails, tasks and a thousand other “open loops” in our lives. Later in the book, he has extensive advice on scheduling and making a good “time budget”.
But the book covers much more than how to manage your workflow. Raynor intentionally and appropriately begins with a chapter on the need to spend time in the Word and prayer, ideally beginning each day in unhurried time with God. One of the later chapters is on the need to rest well, including Sabbath rest. Raynor outlines his own rather unique approach to Sundays. Whether one buys into it or not, it is at least stimulating to think through how to “Sabbath” well.
I was challenged by another chapter entitled, “Dissent from the Kingdom of Noise”, in which he addresses how to better handle social media, your phone and the endless flood of news and information most of us are drowning in. Although I have a very limited social media life, I was still challenged by his ideas and have made some helpful changes. We lose more time here than most of us think, and we lose a lot of focus as well. He has a continual emphasis on the value of eliminating distractions, avoiding multi-tasking (which is much less efficient than we might think) and intentionally scheduling times of “deep work”, free from interruptions and the superficial.
The second thing that makes this book worth reading is that throughout, Raynor grounds his many practical strategies in biblical principles. The suggested practices are optional and may or may not be helpful, but the principles, he contends, are essential for us all. Unfortunately, he draws a rather long bow in trying to argue that these principles are all drawn from the life of Jesus who shows us “how God would manage his time”. That seems rather strained given that it is seldom the main point of the texts he turns to. It would be sufficient to say that the principles reflect biblical perspectives on time and life. But Raynor does keep our focus on what really matters: not making a name for ourselves or being impressive in what we achieve but using our time to glorify God and to love others.
Throughout the book, Raynor shares many of his own practices, some of which are incredibly helpful and others that seem to be quite unrealistic. But in both cases, the book has stimulated me to re-think a number of my daily practices in order to live in a less hurried, more focused way.