22 Productive Things to Do When You’re Tempted to Dawdle

Written by

I love Anne Ortlund. For those of you who don’t know of her, she’s a noted Christian author from the 70’s and 80’s.

I have a special connection with her because she “discipled” or spiritually mentored a woman named Jen. Jen later discipled me during my time with the Navigators Campus Ministry at the University of Missouri.

Jen had a profound impact on my life, teaching me to know God and study His word in new ways. She also gave me some of Anne’s books. In Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman, which I highly recommend and love, Anne compiles a list of 22 productive things to do when you’re tempted to “dawdle or watch T.V. indiscriminately.” I would add to that “waste time on the internet.”

Not that resting is a bad thing. It’s good and necessary, but we all know sometimes we aren’t intentionally resting… we’re being idle. This list is for those times.

This book was originally published in 1977, by a woman born in 1923. I updated the language and a few of the ideas just a bit.

However, Anne’s words add a beautiful patina to the timeless discipline of making life count, moment by moment and day by day.

22 Productive Things to Do When You’re Tempted to Dawdle

  1. Exercise
  2. Memorize Scripture
  3. Look over your coming calendar, and prepare what to wear.
  4. Give yourself a pedicure.
  5. Write a list of your blessings.
  6. Walk around your house critically: adjust, rearrange, throw out, give away.
  7. Cook ahead for the freezer.
  8. Lotion yourself all over.
  9. Read part of an important book.
  10. Clean out your cosmetics drawer.
  11. Write a letter to an old friend.
  12. Do your nails. You could use a builder gel in a bottle to provide the perfect base coat.
  13. Weed your garden. If you have Japanese knotweed all over your garden, you can get Japanese Knotweed Removal here.
  14. Bring your recipe file up to date.
  15. Encourage a Christian friend by telephone, someone you don’t usually call.
  16. Put all those old photos into albums.
  17. Take a walk in the park.
  18. Take a nap
  19. Have a prolonged time talking with God: partly on your face before him on the floor.
  20. Polish the silver.
  21. Write a poem (don’t be silly; everybody does).
  22. Write your pastor an encouraging note.

I challenge you to choose something from this list to do when you’re tempted to idleness today. Tell us about it in the comments section.

What would you add to this list?

New to this community? Start here, friend. 

You Don't Have to be a Victim of Your Schedule and Home

Get this FREE 5-step guide to simplify your life so that you can focus on what actually matters.

You will also join 4,100+ other subscribers to receive weekly encouragement to see eternity in your home and to live in its light.

Life is too short and God is too good to live distracted.

accent accent

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.


  1. Great list, and one i should put into practice! I appreciate how simple each thing is– you’re not committing to an hour of work, many would only take five or ten minutes (which is usually about the amount of time I’m tempted to waste).

  2. Ai says:

    Good list! I’ve read a couple of her books, and her son has come to our church a couple of times to preach for a conference.

    • Neat! You’re the first person I’ve found who knows who she is.
      I love what I’ve read of her’s so far, and feel privileged to have come across her books. She seems like the kind of elderly lady with unbelievable pearls of wisdom, and I love her old fashioned way of thinking. I’m beginning to think I’m pretty old fashioned at heart. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *