Due diligence or do diligence?

It’s hard for me not to have a little chuckle about the virtue of diligence. The meaning of my
name is actually industrious and, that is certainly one way I’d describe myself. However, not
being afraid of putting in effort is one thing, but actually making that work both fruitful and
joyful, well, that’s considerably harder.
So, here are some things I’ve learned the hard way – mostly through the vocation of
motherhood if I’m being perfectly honest.

There are a plethora of ways we could describe the virtue of diligence but at the end of the
day diligence is essentially applying our body, soul and mind in efficient and effective ways to
undertake the task of joyful occupation.
Work was always part of God’s plan for man, but a consequence of the Fall is that the work
is hard (thanks Adam and Eve!). Toil and effort are not always that appealing, but the end
results of a job well done certainly are.
We’ve all heard the adage: work smarter, not harder. And exercising diligence is, essentially,
that. The virtue of diligence does not see us undertaking back breaking labour for just any
reason. It is a right ordering of our desire to exercise love through our work for God, most
often through our work for others in the way we live out our specific vocation.

All work, paid or unpaid, should be treated as professional work. Thus, a professional and
efficient approach to our vocation, our specific and individual calling, is important. Starting
and failing to finish one job before moving onto the next is inefficient and unproductive as is
undertaking tasks in the wrong order. Imagine folding and sorting your clothes before you
wash and dry them – sounds ridiculous right?

This idea of professionalism will elevate your approach to work, and your vocation, if you are
willing to step up in both diligence and intentionality. To live your life well, unleashing your
unique capacity in such a way as to benefit those around you, is no spontaneous event. It
requires direction, purpose and work ethic.

In a lovely play on words, we should consider the term professional here also as in to
‘profess’ something. In this case we are professing our love for God and those He has
entrusted to us, recognising that our work is not really for our own sake – though it will form
us – but for others.

Those who know me well will be unsurprised to discover that I love a list. My week to a view
diary is my ultimate list making tool. At the beginning of each week I sit down and write down
– yes I use a physical rather than digital calendar/planner – whatever needs to be addressed over the coming week. This can vary from week to week based on my commitments, those
of my husband and of our children.

Once I have a clear picture of how busy our schedule is, then I plan my attack. That said, I
don’t actually have a to-do list for each day, one for the week yes, but not for each day. This
is simply because, the realm of motherhood does not often run completely smoothly.
It was a hard lesson for me to learn that there are, and will inevitably continue to be, many
‘unproductive’ days with children underfoot. That is why, for me, a weekly to-do list is a more
palatable option. If I have an ‘unproductive’ day where, for instance earlier this week, I’m
trying to toilet train a three year old and it requires my full attention, I don’t immediately
regret a day where nothing has been ticked off the list. I know that later in the week – like
today – I will be able to snatch a few moments of time to type up a blog post.

Okay, so you’ve got your to-do list, now what? Now we divide and conquer.
First, what are the priorities of the week. Perhaps its facilitating the needs of others in our
household to attend work or school and the smaller tasks associated with that. It might be
meal planning, grocery shopping and loads (and loads!) of washing. In other words, the
tasks that must be completed in order for life to flow.

It is only after these priorities are addressed that I will sit down and decipher my own list.
One that is, you guessed it, ordered in a specific way.

My to-do list in grouped into similar tasks. For instance, bills due are listed in one column,
any task that requires a phone call is also grouped into a similar column, errands that can
only be completed in town, and so on.

This means that as my week progresses and I find time to tackle my to-do list. Instead of
completing one job at a time, I try to work my way through a group starting with the most
urgent. For instance, if I have several bills due I will sit at the computer and work through
each one in turn until that group is complete.

Once finished I will either take a break if required, or, if it was not too time consuming or
mentally taxing, I will move onto another block of jobs of a similar nature – perhaps making
appointments over the phone.

And so the list goes. Anything not completed at the end of the week, things lower on the list
are by their very nature less urgent, are added to the following week.

Now, there is no perfect approach to practical diligence, or to-do lists for that matter. What it
will require of you is some thought and planning. It may even take you time -years in my
case – to work out how you could make things more efficient and effective for you.
Remember that diligence does not negate hard work. Diligence is undertaking that hard work
in a rightly ordered way, focused on both loving God and others, but completing our work to
the best of our abilities.

VM Writer and Graphic Designer. Wife of one, mother of 8. Tackling growth in virtue one (baby) step at a time.

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