Would you actually believe me if I told you that a simple 5 minute activity, done daily and done well, could just about guarantee that today is going to be a great day? Maybe you doubt my claim or think I’m touting some gimmick, but I promise that’s not so. It works! Doing this one simple thing has been a major catalyst of growth in my own life and been one of the secrets to almost all of my best days.
Intrigued? Want to know more? Okay, here it is. The five minutes that can transform your day are the five minutes it takes to create a simple “to-do” list.
You were probably expecting something more “churchy” like spending five minutes reading the Bible or in prayer. Those are absolutely essential things for our day, but I don’t want us to overlook the amazing benefits of the lowly “to-do” list.
First, let’s set the table with a quick word from Scripture.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28–30, ESV)
These verses remind me that every day I have the momentous opportunity to live passionately and vibrantly for Christ. It also teaches I had better prepare, to the best of my ability, the method and manner for how I will go about accomplishing that task. It’s in that mindset that I approach creating a daily “to-do” list. I’m not just trying to write down the little things that need to be accomplished, but instead I’m planning out what I get to do in order to best live for Jesus. The investment of five minutes to create this simple list almost always provides a tremendous return on what I achieve and experience each day.
Maybe you’ve had a daily “to-do” list before but never experienced the same benefits and blessings. Let me share three essential rules that make the difference.
- My “to-do’s” must be in line with God’s purposes for my life. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I have to ask myself as I write down each item whether or not it is something God has called me to do and is pleasing to Him. The first item I write on my list every time is DT – devotional time. I know that God desires me to spend time with Him and in His Word, so I make sure to plan for that before anything else. After planning that activity, I look for and consider other items that I know God is calling me to do.
- Each item must be directional. Each task listed should help me get one step closer to specific goals that I have set and prayed over. This also means that I have to know where I’m heading. I have many small goals, but I always carry with me 3 or 4 main goals that I’m working toward. Each goal has been brought before God, committed to His will, and submitted to His authority and governance. These goals help me choose specific activities that move me in the right direction.
- My list must include items that add value to other people’s lives. The real value of the daily to-do list lies in finding ways to be a blessing to others. Although I sometimes do fail in this, my best days are the ones when my list is full of “blessing others” and that all of those items are crossed off at the end of the day.
Two final thoughts – First, while the five minutes you spend creating a Godly “to-list” can be extremely beneficial, those are not the most important minutes of your day. Creating your list is simply a useful tool to help you actually do the things to which you’ve committed. If I write down numerous things on my list that I could do for God today, but don’t actually do them, then my list is nothing more than a wasted piece of paper.
Second, while I don’t claim to have mastered this habit, I truly do believe that taking just five minutes to plan with purpose for the day ahead can produce great results. I have experienced it firsthand. Over different seasons of my life, there have been times when I was clearly growing and “bearing much fruit” and times when my days were of little to no value and certainly not pleasing to the Lord. While it was not the only factor, hindsight has shown me that the habit of daily planning and preparation was in place in the productive times and absent in the unfruitful ones.
No matter how yesterday went, why don’t you take just five minutes to “count the cost” and plan out what you’re going to do for God today? If you plan well, doing so with God’s guidance and a commitment to your calling, your head will hit the pillow tonight knowing the pleasure of God over a day well lived.