You Can Accomplish More By Doing Less


If you don’t periodically prune the activities in your life, then God will do the pruning for you.

“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial”  (1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV).

If you want margin in your life, you must periodically prune your activities.

One of the things I do to relax is grow roses. I’ve learned that if I want to have any roses in the new season, I have to prune them back, usually around the third week of January. One year when I got ready to prune, there were still lots of branches with buds waiting to blossom. Do you know how difficult it is to cut off a rose that hasn’t bloomed yet? It kills me to do that.

Why do gardeners prune trees and plants? For the health of the plant and for fruitfulness in the next season. If there’s no pruning, there will be no fruitfulness in the next season.

Every year of our lives, we sprout new activity branches. You’re doing some things now that you didn’t do a year ago. You’ve added them on. But what have you cut out? What have you pruned back? You can’t just keep adding and adding to your schedule without cutting back, without pruning your activities. 

Here’s the secret: When you prune, you don’t just cut off deadwood. You cut off living branches that are still productive. You cut out some activities that are still good, that are still bearing fruit. You have to cut them off because you’re in a new season.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial” (NIV). 

God’s given you a free will. You’re permitted to do anything. You can go out and overload your schedule 10 times over, and God’s not going to stop you. But it doesn’t mean it’s the beneficial thing to do.

In your life you will have to learn to say “no” far more than you’ll have to learn to say “yes.” There are more things you can’t do than you have the time, energy, effort, and God’s desire for you to do. You cannot even do all the good things in life. Have you figured that out? You can’t do everything, so you have to determine the right things to do. What does God want you to do with your time and energy?

Selection is the key to an effective life. You’ll be more effective if you figure out what you’re not going to do as well as what you’re going to do. You’ll actually accomplish more in life by doing less! 

If you don’t periodically prune the activities in your life, God will do the pruning for you. It will happen through an illness or crisis or something, because you cannot live beyond your limits month after month.

Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). 

Talk It Over

  • What are the good and even fruitful activities in your life that you know you need to cut out to make room for new ones?
  • How has God used a painful experience to show you that you need to cut something out of your schedule?
  • Why is it so difficult for us to admit that we have limitations? Why can’t we say “no” more often than we say “yes” to opportunities?

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This devotional © 2016 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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