Don’t Eat the Bread of Idleness and How to Rock Your To-Do List

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Over the past year, we have examined each of the verses in Proverbs 31, in-depth (10-26). (Verses 28-31 are coming soon), but today’s verse sums up the Proverbs 31 wife in one fell swoop!

Don't Eat the Bread of Idleness - Don't Eat the Bread of Idleness and How to Rock Your To-Do List


Proverbs 31:27
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.


The Bread of Idleness

We have seen her attentiveness to every aspect of a woman of noble character’s life by caring for her husband, children, servants and even the poor. We’ve seen her wake early, stay up late and work by lamp, when necessary. We’ve watched her plant a vineyard, sew her own clothes, her family’s clothing, tapestries and bedding. We’ve read about her selling goods to help with family expenses. As we learn more about this awe-worthy wife, we see that she strives for excellence in every one of her responsibilities!

The Proverbs 31 woman knew that her role as homemaker and wife was God ordained. She took this role seriously and she “slayed” it!

She didn’t idly sit by and watch soap operas (well, if they had TV back in biblical times) or let mount laundry grow. She was busy embracing her role as a wife of noble character. She did not “eat the bread of idleness”, but was busy managing her home, her family and her responsibilities. She rocked in time management!

Proverbs 31_27 bread of idleness

Let’s unpack this verse, piece by piece:

“She watches” 

In Hebrew, this is translated as tsaphah (tsaw-faw’) “to look out or about, spy, keep watch”.

This phrase means that she is keeping her family as first priority. She doesn’t worry about the new wash basin that the neighbor purchased or what those crazy Smiths are doing around the block. She doesn’t spend hours on Aramaic Facebook (hehehe what would THAT look like? :D). Instead, she closely watches her home, her family and prioritizes their needs and her responsibilities.

“to the ways”

The Hebrew translation is haliykah (hal-ee-kaw’) “a walking; by implication, a procession or march, a caravan — company, going, walk, way”.

“of her household,”

In Hebrew bayith (bah’-yith) “a house (in the greatest variation of applications, especially family, etc.”

Here, we see what she is watching over:  her family’s ways – their health, activities, knowledge of God, what they eat, how they rest. She is overseeing how they live their lives and ensuring that it is good and God honoring. She makes sure that they are eating their vegetables and brushing their teeth. She ensures that they have clean tunics and feel loved. As the wife who is worth more than rubies, she manages the home by taking care of her husband and family and watching over their lives.

“and does not eat the bread of idleness”

‘akal (aw-kal’)  “to eat” 

lechem (lekh’-em) “food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it)”

`atsluwth (ats-looth’) “indolence — idleness.”

Whew! Ok, this Hebrew tongue twister is so powerful! The woman of noble character is not lazy or idle. She knows how to manage her time and seizes the opportunity to work and serve her family.

She is the one who makes sure that the home (and family) runs smoothly. It is because of her watchful eye and her care that her home is clean, organized, well-fed and honors God. She (YOU, dear friend) are irreplaceable!

If you struggle in this area, don’t fret. There are several small steps you can take to improve your time management. You can resist the urge to “eat the bread of idleness” and rock the role as wife and mom.

Here are my top tips:

Get Up a Bit Earlier

If you struggle with getting everything done in your already busy day, consider getting up a bit earlier. Just 30-60 minutes will give you the extra time to plan and organize your day and knock out some of your routines. I’ve written more on this subject HERE.

Reduce Screen Time

A July 2016 CNN report found that American adults spend an average of TEN HOURS per day in front of screens. While for many that includes work in front of a computer, much of it is staring at a smart phone or television. By reducing your screen time, you are gaining hours in your day. While I’m all for relaxing and watching a good TV show, don’t let screen time eat up all of your productive daytime hours. If this area is a struggle for you. Consider taking one night per week off from screen time and instead use that time to catch up on home projects or cleaning or spend time with your family.

Establish Routines

Many of us suffer from “analysis paralysis”. We have so much to do that we don’t know where to start so we zip from this activity to that without  real plan. This, in itself, can cause us to eat the bread of idleness! I encourage you, if you don’t already have routines in place, to start an evening routine and work from there adding more, as necessary. I’ve written extensively on this topic in THIS POST which includes printables to help you establish the best routines for you and your family.

Second to meal planning, routines are the number one reason my house is in good order and maintains cleanliness.

Try Block Scheduling

With growing to-do lists that include everything from food shopping to cooking and from cleaning and organizing to home bill paying, there’s no wonder we bounce from task to task, yet accomplish so little, at times. If this sounds like you, consider using a block schedule. For example, use Tuesday afternoon (or after work) to run errands, Wednesday you might block an hour out for household paperwork (paying bills, filing, reading mail, etc.). By setting aside time to focus on one task or a group of related tasks, you are more likely to complete the items on your to-do list.

Use a Planner or Calendar

This one seems pretty obvious, right? But the truth is that few people use them for more than a place to enter meetings and appointments. Find a planner that you like and use it to block out time for related tasks as described above. For some of us, having it in writing is the catalyst we need to ensure that tasks are done. I love crossing items off of my to-do list. I may have even written down tasks that I’ve completed after I’ve completed them just for the joy of crossing them off of my list 🙂

I use a combination of Trello for my lists and a paper planner. The paper planner that I prefer, which is peppered with Bible verses is sold out currently, but below is one that I have heard good things about. (click on the photo below to take you to the Amazon product page).

I’m super excited to have found the Ultimate Productivity Bundle and have already used many of the resources in it.

I am particularly excited about the Beyond Blessed Life Planner for Christian Women by Ana Willis and the Driven Women Grace Based Productivity for Christians by Phylicia Masonheimer. Both the planner and the course are chock-full of resources specific using the time that God blessed you with wisely.

I’m also loving the Life Management Binder. With colorful printables, helpful charts and checklists, you have everything you need to manage your home, your family and your life.

You can grab all of the above resources (just the three mentioned above are valued at $139!) for $37 but you also get tons more! Courses, a summit and hundreds of printables. Just use what appeals to you. It’s an amazing value. You can grab yours here.  There really is no better resource for time management for Christian women!


How are you doing in this area? Do you eat the bread of idleness or do you need to work on improving in this area? Tell me in the comments below or email and let me know what kind of resources you would like to help with this.

I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

If you want to dig deeper, see this post on my top tips for time management or check out my book, The Complete Proverbs 31 Wife:  A Verse by Verse Exploration of What it Means to Be a Proverbs 31 Woman in Today’s World.

Because of Him



Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women deepen their walk with God through Bible study and creative worship and strengthen their marriages.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.

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  1. My house is so disorganized and messy because no one cleans up after themselves unless I ask more than once. Chores are only done by me, unless I “twist arms”. I’m in Chronic pain in both my knees at 41 years old. Walking and standing are some of my struggles. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin, and when I’m “done” for the day it looks worse than when I started. ITs very frustrating and causes me to follow suit with eating the bread of idleness. Sometimes I’m exhausted just from pain and I have to give up being mom/wife for the day. I trust God will work it out for good and His glory somehow.

    1. God will work it out, sister. But I would also have a heart to heart with your spouse and children and assign chores – no matter how old the children are. I’m praying for you!

    2. Just found this article and your comment. I feel the same way as you! I am a much older Mom and have been eating the bread of idleness for too long. The home is also messy and disorganized. If it gets cleaned, it only lasts for a few days and cannot maintain it. I’m the worst manager of my home and kids…and I hurt. My body is breaking down little by little. And it does exhaust me when I think or stress over what I need to do and then I just give up. Praying for God’s strength and peace to help you and me to rise up, be healed in the Name of Jesus and finish well. God bless you.

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