What Martin Luther Can Teach You About Productivity

Martin Luther once said: “I have so much to do today that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer”. On the first sight, this doesn’t sound really productive. We could even wonder how Martin Luther was able to translate the whole bible with such a mindset.

But as you’ll learn in this article, the underlying idea of this makes perfectly sense. As counterintuitive as it seems, the lesson we can learn here is a huge win for everyone’s productivity.


Why This Makes Sense

First, we should assume that Luther did not pray on a busy day to waste time or to ask God to get his tasks done for him.

What makes more sense: Luther draws his energy from praying. He charges himself before going to work. What things like working out, sleeping enough, eating healthy etc. are for most people – is praying for Martin Luther.

That means, Luther traded his time for energy. He invested his three hours in the morning to pray and get out energy for the day. After that, he has less hours left to work, but more energy. This is a clear advantage, as it will turn out.

But why are many people still caught up in state of mind like: “I’ll recharge myself when all my work is done”, so they finally never get to take care of themselves?

Time vs. Results

What we often (logically) resist to is investing time in other things than those on our To-Do list. Why should we invest time in recharging? We end up after all with less time where we can work and get things done.

Although this is true, that’s not the right idea. Many people still favor time over results – but wouldn’t it be great to get the same amount of work done in less time? Of course, it would!

And that’s where energy comes into play: more energy means faster results. Everyone sometimes has those days where one’s mental and physical energy is depleted. In those days, we need to force ourselves to work, but do we get stuff done well? Not really, do we?

Without energy, everything seems to go slower, we can’t think clearly, and we feel the desire to just lay down and stop. So, before trying to get anything done, make sure your energy levels are high. Especially when there’s a lot of results to get, it’s crucial to sustain high energy and endure all day.

And here’s the point where Luther’s idea starts making sense. His math was the following: He invested time to be more energized.

With this energy he aimed to get all the results he wanted for that day – even in less time that was left after his recharging process. That means that we don’t really lose time when we recharge our energy – the daily results will stay the same or will even be higher.

And there’s another reason why we should trade that time for energy. On a daily basis, the difference in results might not be too big, but on the long run they become more and more significant…

Long-Term Results

It’s easy on a daily basis to skip an hour of sleep, to skip the workout or to skip a healthy meal in order to just finish that one task. On a daily basis, this also works because one single lost hour of sleep for example won’t kill you.

But over time, this adds up. You can drive around with your car for a certain time without refueling. But one day, it will have no fuel left and will just stop. The same is true for your energy.

Finally, the less energy you have on the long run, the less results you will get on the long run. When you skip your recharging activities, you maybe won’t feel the consequences too hard on that same day. But this will decrease the whole week’s results. Compared to the time you have in a week, going on a run twice a week is a really low time investment. But looking at the mass of results you gain, it is a huge win.

And that’s exactly what Martin Luther did. He saw the huge amount of results he had to achieve and took the only right action: he recharged himself and raised his energy levels, so he could get the results he wanted in a minimum of time with a minimum of exhaustion.


With all that said, it should be clear now what Martin Luther meant with that statement. And the lesson we all should apply now into our lives: make your energy a priority. Prioritize healthy meals, good sleep and working out. Especially when there are a lot of results to get, we need that energy badly.

About the Author

Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving ​serving ​overworked entrepreneurs and​ professionalsRead more...