The Productive Pastor

On this episode of The Productive Pastor I interview Rich Birch, of Unseminary.com and Liquid Church. Rich is a great pastor, leader and project manager. 

The List
Your Not Going Fast Enough

How to Be an Effective Road Warrior

Tomorrow Tonight: The Importance of Pre-Planning

Rich Birch on Project Management

Rich and I talk about project management and what it looks like for church leadership to learn about project management and why it is vital to ministry. 

Our conversation focuses around 3 questions. 

1. What is your organizational sweet spot?

2. What do ministry leaders need to not just understand, but rock project management?

3. How can a leader get their feet wet with project management?

We talked about these books to help people begin to rock project management.

Getting Things Done: David Allen

The Four Hour Work Week: Tim Ferris

The E-Myth: Michael Gerber

Rich also shares about his passion for excellent announcements in worship and offers the Productive Pastor community a great free resource. You can grab it at unseminary.com/chad

Check out Rich at unseminary.com and follow him on twitter @richbirch. Make sure to listen to his podcast. It consistently is one of my ministry favorites. 

Confession Time

Over the last few weeks you might have missed the Productive Pastor Podcast (at least I hope you did). Last week I shared this email with the folks signed up for the insider list. What I realized is I had lost my motivation, the "why", of why this podcast matters tremendously to me. 

As I was contemplating this I read a blog post entitled "How I Went from Mad to Motivated". The quote that stuck out the most to me was this...

“Once I woke up from that false perspective – the perspective that the other stuff was more of a distraction at the time than anything else – I got mad at myself. Then I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get back on the horse - the right horse. I was motivated."

So I did what I normally do. I made a list. I made a list of why many different things mattered to me. I realized many things I really care about had dropped off the map. 

So the podcast will be back. In January. With amazing new stuff and a great interview to kick off the new season. In the interim I will be producing some great new additions to the Productive Pastor community. 

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

 

Direct download: PP25_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to Project Management month. This month we are going to focus all of the productive pastor content on project management. I have some great resources and interviews lined up.

The List:

10 Indicators You Have No Margin in Life: Charles Stone
Do you struggle with margin or need a wake-up call? This list of ten helps each of us self-diagnosis where we are on the margin scale.

The 5 Zeros You Should Achieve Every Day To Have Peace Of Mind: Timo Kiander
Many of us are familiar with the concept of inbox zero. In this blog post, Timo takes it a step further and shares what it looks like to really clean off your slate every day.

The Challenge of Setting Multiple Goals at Once (and how to actually do it): Belle Beth Cooper
Do you ever try to start 4 things at the same time. Usually I end up failing miserable when I do this. Here is why that happens and how to fix it.

Two Things Most People Miss The Most That Matter The Most

As we dig into Project Management 101, there are two things we really need to talk about. I strongly feel if anyone can get these two done well (or at least decent), they will have made much more headway than the average person.

1. Pre-Plan
The planning we do at the very first part of the project matters. It helps us define three things; the project, the goals and the timeline. To really do this well, I find it helps to always work through the same set of questions. Here is a great worksheet for you to use. You can download it free here.

The first secret to great project management is focusing on the clarity you will need to drive you throughout the project.

PP003: Project Mangagement Pre-Sheet by Chad Brooks

2. Brainstorm
Where clarity and detail matters in the first step, this is the step to go hog wild. I use post-its or notecards and write down every single thing that comes to mind. This isn't the place to edit or restrain yourself. Just get down all of the ideas you have. Once you are at a stopping point, you can then use the items you came up with to help build a timeline.

Next Episode
On the next episode I interview Rich Birch, of unSeminary.com and the unSeminary podcast. I had a great time talking with him and it will be a great episode to learn from.

Mentioned:
Why I Love Worksheets (and how I design them).

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.
Direct download: pp24v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Ok listeners. It's time to get into the big stuff. Not the easy, entry level time management, but the stuff of practitioners and productivity evangelists. This episode is about how to lose a work week and not lose your sanity. From time to time we all have to do it. The very fear of this is probably one of the reasons people in ministry don't sabbath well. We are scared to be out of town because of all the work we might get behind on.

The List

Life Hacks of the Rich and Famous: Journl
I especially love the idea of rhythm and routine. It helps out tremendously when you are willing to delegate the tiny decisions to the same thing, habit or practice.

The New Habit Challenge: Make a Better To Do List: Rachel Gillett
This is a great blog post. Just making a to do list isn't enough. Here is how to make the list actually work for you. I really like the idea of knocking out what you absolutely hate-but then building the momentum to get through the day.

How To Lose a Week (and not lose it all)

1. Know what you do.
This is wear a routine of weekly reviews plus a great template practice comes in handy. You can easily look at what you are regularly getting done so you can plan out your attack.

2. What can you NOT do?
Everyone has those tasks they think are absolutely essential. Let's seriously think how many of those can't get dropped or put off for the next week.

3. What can YOU not do?
This is a perfect time to start delegating. Try to hand off a task to someone just to see how well it goes. You might be able to teach them something as well as teach yourself something.

4. What can you work ahead on?
Having a production calendar and a preaching calendar are essential. When you know for a few weeks you are going out of town you can slowly work towards creating some time margin.

5. Can you squeeze in a little time while you are gone?
What about an hour in the morning or missing a session of the conference. If you plan to give yourself a brief moment of time you can take care of the absolute essentials or put out any fires.

6. Plan your reentry.
Think about what your first day might look like. Give yourself the space to actually accomplish what absolutely needs to get done that first day back.

Resources Mentioned:
The Four Hour Work Week
The War of Art

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.
Direct download: PP23.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Have you ever almost shut down from the stress of loosing control of your to-do list? Don't lie. You have. We all have.

In this episode of The Productive Pastor I share the 5 ways you can destroy a massive to-do list and set yourself up for future productivity success.

The List

1. 1 Big and Three Medium: John Zeratsky
I found this tweet back in July. It caused an interesting discussion as well as got my mind working. I have started doing this the last few weeks. This is a simple life hack.

2. 7 Things You Can Do on Friday to Make Monday Awesome: Kevin Daum
My wife always clears her desk at the end of a workday. On Friday, she even does more. It all goes into making Monday better. Kevin gives 7 great tips for you to integrate into your workweek to make next week better.

3. Achieve Your Goals by Focusing on Critical Activities: Harry Che
What is absolutely critical for you to do today? Most of us can't answer that question. The secret sauce to hitting goals is to know what you need to do.

How To Destroy A Massive To-Do List

1. Collect it.
These thing are sitting in your head and other places taking up emotional energy. Carve out some time and just get everything on paper. I prefer post-it notes and a sharpie. David Allen's classic Getting Things Done talks about the benefit of the capture process.

2. Get it all in the same place.
Once you have a giant stack of post-it's, start writing them down. You can do this in a digital document, but I prefer paper (it makes the next step easier). Don't try to organize just yet.

3. Filter out what can die.
What has been dropped for so long the damage has already been done? What really doesn't matter? What doesn't move things forward and might have little to no benefit?

Let them die.

4. Categorize and rank importance.
What items on your list go together? Home, work, school, personal...there will be plenty. You will most likely even have some sub categories. I generally do this first level with a highlighter.

Once you have them grouped, start ranking them by importance. I prefer the Eisenhower Method. Start marking what is important and urgent. Those are your mission critical tasks.

5. What is yours alone and what can be delegated?
Delegation is a skill I am working on (I am currently between horrible and bad). Michael Hyatt's work on delegation is the best I know of.

Toolbox
Last week my Dad emailed me. He is a great pastor and has been featured on the show before. He gave me advice he first heard from Bill Hybels. He told me "when your stress levels are high, up your solitude and exercise." Let me tell you how much this has helped me the last few weeks!

Direct download: pp22.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

I have been waiting for this episode for months! I sit down with John Chandler, host and producer of the Sermonsmith podcast and learn from him. John interviews a different preacher on each episode and it is a wealth of knowledge about the craft of sermon preparation.

The List:
How I Prepare for Expository Bible Study or Preaching: Jeremy SarborJeremy is a listener and podcaster of his own. He runs a great blog and he shared this post with me. It is well worth your reading.

Create a Weekly Attack Plan: Art of Manliness
I came across this post in my feed reader one day. It is a great look at how one person handles an immense amount of creative responsibility as well as life in general.

Sermonsmith and John Chandler

John and I had a great conversation. I asked him these 5 questions.

1. What motivated you to start a podcast all about sermon preparation?
2. What has been the biggest common denominator in your interviews?
3. What was the most surprising thing?
4. What have you incorporated in your preparation and enjoyed the most?
5. What seems to be the usual pattern of preparation for your guests?

We had a great conversation and I hope you both enjoy it and check out Sermonsmith.

Mentioned
Sermonsmith.com

You can check out the archived Productive Pastor Insider where I shared my sermon workflow here.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.
Direct download: pp21_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to sermon preparation month!

In August I am focusing both episodes on sermon preparation. This is the topic I have been hearing about the most and I am want to share some great content with you.

The List:

For a More Ordered Life, Organize like a chef. Dan Charnas
In the world of cooking, the mise-en-place is a near sacred technique of chefs and line cooks of preparation. In this NPR article and sound bite, Dan shares how we can each incorporate these ideas into our own organization.

5 Reasons to take an Extended Preaching Break: Bobby Williams
Bobby shares his journey of over-preaching and the benefit of taking extended breaks from preaching at his church.

Using Evernote in Message Preparation: Bobby Wiliiams
Besides a Moleskine notebook, evernote is the tool I have heard more preachers refer to using. I use Evernote like crazy. Bobby shares how he sets up and uses Evernote to aid in his message preparation. This is a great beginners guide to using Evernote for preaching.

5 Keys to Effective Sermon Preparation

I remember when I first started preaching. There was no rhyme or reason to how I prepared. I just started typing with an empty document and hoped for the best. Later, I took a few notes from my bible and started at least working with a basic idea in mind.

Over the last several years I have put a pretty good rhythm into place. These are 5 essentials practices that I believe will help anyone's sermon preparation.

1. Read.
That's it. You have to be reading. Read many different types of writing; articles, magazines, the newpaper and online. Read books related or unrelated to ministry. You will be surprised how much material you begin building up in your head.

2. Have a Holding Tank.
Find a way to capture this information. I use Evernote and a Field Notes notebook. Between the two, I always have something with me. I organize evernote with three folders to keep me moving forward and specific notebooks and folders for sermons I am researching/writing and preparing.

Here is a great read from over a 100 years ago about the benefit of keeping a preaching notebook.
The Growing of a Sermon.

3. Have a Preaching Calendar.
This is the best way to stay ahead and make sure you are preaching the whole counsel of God. It also is a huge help to the folks who assist in worship.

Productive Pastor 17: Why You Need a Production Calendar

4. Ask Others
Asking other people what they need to hear from church and letting them in on the preparation and visioning part of sermon work will not only be a help to you, but teach others about the holy act of preaching and preparation.

The Social Church Webinar

5. Find/Build and Stick to a preparation rhythm.
This is one of the hardest, but most rewarding practices. Learning to get this built into your weekly schedule will transform your sermon preparation. It will keep you on task and getting done early in the week (no one likes to write a sermon on Saturday).

Resources:
My Sermon Planning Worksheet
My Favorite Resources for Modern Preaching

On the next episode we will have John Chandler, of Sermonsmith, as our guest. He has interviewed dozens of preachers about their preparation process. It will be great.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.
Direct download: PP20.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to the 19th episode of The Productive Pastor. I have a great interview in place for you today with Michael Lukaszewski focusing on systems. This is a topic I have been excited about for a long time. Michael is THE GUY to talk about why your ministry needs to use systems and I am so excited to share this interview with the productive pastor community.

The List:
HT to Dean Libby and Jonathan Andersen for sharing these links with the community via twitter.

4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management: Amy Gallo
As hot as the subject is right now, people can easily convince themselves of the benefits of practices that aren't that beneficial. Amy dispels some myths and does a great job questioning things people think are true.

23 Daily Habits That Will Make You Smarter: Maggie Zhang
These are great time hacks...but also great practices. I think all of them can be part of always becoming sharper, more tuned to your life and just productive.

The 7 Deadly Email Sins: Zachary Sexton
Email isn't a big issue for me, but it is for others. This list outlines some best practices as well as great tips to make sure your inbox doesn't run you.

Systems with Michael Lukaszewski

1. What Are Systems?
If you need to do something more than once...you need to create a system for it.
They aren't a set it and forget item, but a way to effectively organize ministry. This is about becoming more effective.

2. How can you lead in systems from the middle?
How can a youth/associate/worship pastor lead using systems? Michael gives some great tips to leading from the middle.

3. What is the biggest conversation for ministry leaders to be having around productivity?
This isn't about tools, the conversation we need to have is this...

"Is what we are doing truly worthwhile?"

Michaellukaszewski.com
@mlukaszewski

If you are interested in Michael or want more information on systems, check out these links. If yIf

Mentioned:
The500network.com/ Improvingchurch.com
The Rocket Company
The Systems Bundle
Five Financial Systems Every Church Should Have (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.
Direct download: PP19_mixdown2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

In this episode of the Productive Pastor I take the time to talk about my favorite time of the day and what mornings can mean for your personal productivity. We take a more conversational approach with this episode, so sit back and enjoy.

The List:
Creating A Lovely Morning: Leo Babauta
Leo gives us a beautiful example of the power of mornings and how they are created.

A Step-by-Step System to Higher Productivity: Greg Hickman
This blog post is for the true productivity nerd. Greg pulls back the curtain and goes really in-depth with his own personal system. I learned some great things here I plan on trying out.

Using Themed Work Weeks Instead of Themed Day Weeks: David Seah
I have been featuring David a lot on the podcast. His latest experiment is really interesting. I am a big fan of themed days. David is experimenting with shifting over to themed weeks.

The Morning Show

In this episode I share about why I absolutely love mornings. I think they are the most important part of the day. Here are a few bullets from what I shared.

  • What does your morning look like? Is it hectic or intentional?
  • My morning reset two years ago.
  • The more we direct our own schedule the more important it is for us to be on top of it.
  • Mornings are the most strategic part of the day. We get things together and plan for progress.
  • Anyone can make a better morning

I also share what my current morning routine is and how I am changing things up to streamline it for my new rhythms.

Remember to tweet your critical element using #productivepastor. You can reach me @revchadbrooks

Resources Mentioned.
Michael Hyatt: Becoming More Productive by Reengineering your Morning Ritual
Angel Chernoff: 12 Quiet Rituals of Extremely Successful Humans
Ministry Matters

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Direct download: PP18.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

I learned a HUGE lesson this last week that will change your ministry.

The funny thing was it already applied to this episode. Isn't it great how things work like that?

In this episode I want to share with you why you (and your ministry) needs a production calendar. It is one of the big pieces in the picture that helps your ministry be effective and reaching people. I share plenty of resources in this episode, so get ready.

The List:

31 Ways Your Meetings Are Inefficient: Craig Jarrow
Confession. I hate meetings. They seem to always just be happen because people feel a meeting is necessary. Craig gives reasons why meetings sometimes suck and how you can make them better.

Tracking Producing vs Consuming: David Seah
David's resources are no stranger to the podcast. Over the last month he has been on a journey to actually discover what he is creating/doing instead of just simply working. I have been tracking this journey. This blog post is a great primer to his entire experiment.

Productivity for Pastors-Know Thyself: Tim Spivey
Tim really lays it all out here. This is a great post about keeping it centered and being open to the process.

Why You Need a Production Calendar

This last week I have been at a training with other friends starting new United Methodist congregations in Louisiana this year. We have had an amazing time and I learned a lesson that really affects out discussion today.

Many times we ask questions about why we should be productive (because we are secretly scared we don't know what to do next). As ministers, many of us didn't receive practical training in seminary and bible college about these skills. We just keep our fingers crossed and learn as we go.

Imagine what our ministries could do if we understand the simple steps to managing large projects.

Here is my 9 ft long butcher paper timeline for the new church.

It is a simple, step by step timeline for everything I need to get done.

One of my growing passions is to help people learn to take ministry from A (a dream) to Z (done and won). An essential part of this is learning why everyone needs a production calendar. A production (or editorial) calendar is simply a map of everything you have going on.

Nothing in ministry should be guess work.

Here are the three benefits of a production calendar.

1. Production Calendars help you see the big picture.
Imagine what ministry could be like if everyone was always on the same page and accomplishing the same large goals. This is part of that process. Everyone knows why everything matters. Instead of 8 different focuses going on simultaneously, the entire ministry can focus on common goals and teaching strategies.

No one is shooting in the dark.

They also help you realize when you are teaching way to much of the same subject (yeah, that happens). I learned that lesson from preaching rocket and it changed the last 8 months of my preaching.

2. The Content is right in front of you.
Guess work in ministry is elimated. You never are asking "what's next?" When you plan out your month, weeks and days...there is purpose behind every decision.

3. You and your ministry is consistently, steadily moving forward.
It isn't enough to just keep the ball in the air. That's what many of us end up doing.

Doing this shouldn't be scary. It is all about small steps toward much larger goals.

Toolbox Tip:

Keep something with you to always write down ideas. It might be an app, notebook or note cards. This way you can write it down and come back to it later.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider. I'll give you my Weekly/Daily tools to keep you focused on ministry priorities. These are amazing, big picture resources to help you minister at the highest level of effectiveness.

 

Resources Mentioned:
CoSchedule Free Editoral Calendar Guide and Templates
David Allen: Getting Things Done.
Anne Samoilov: The Simple Content Creation Method + How To Publish More Than You Thought Humanly Possible

Listen:
Stitcher
RSS
Direct Download
iTunes

Direct download: PP17.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm CST

In this episode of the Productive Pastor, I interview Justin Wise. Justin is a consultant and runs #ThinkDigital. If you ministry is curious about how the digital age matters, Justin is the person to talk too. When I sat down to plan out season 2 I knew I wanted to interview Justin. He was gracious with his time and shares plenty of great information with us. I especially appreciated the conversation about call and what ministry looks like (and doesn't look like) these days.

The List

How to Do More of What You Love (and Less of What You Don't): Michael Hyatt
Michael has had several great podcasts on delegation. This is just the latest in the subject and it really digs into why everyone needs to be delegating.

How I Work On Several Projects At Once: Mike Vardy
Mike shares something each of us in ministry could learn from. We have jobs requiring multiple balls in the air at the same time. In this blog post, you can learn the benefit of intentional scheduling to keep everything moving ahead.

Schedule Productivity Around Ebb and Flow: Tanner Christensen
Do you ever try to do something important when you just don't have the energy? The ebb and flow of our day matters, so schedule around it.

Resources Mentioned:
Justinwise.net
The Social Church (AMAZON link)
My review of The Social Church

Productive Pastor Insider Sign Up

Direct download: PP_16_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Welcome to this episode of The Productive Pastor. I have some great resources to share, great conversations and a great announcement. The focus conversation this episode is having a great weekend.

The List:
The Top Ten Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity: Chris Bailey
Chris shares why he took a year off before he entered the workforce to become an expert in productivity. He really hemmed in on why we should be doing what really matters. The whole website is great, check it out.

6 Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Every Day: Eric Barker
Eric shares the tiny things that really matter. I love what he had to say about starting off your day well. It's one of my secrets.

How To Have a Great Weekend

When I first started thinking about productivity I read Laura Vanderkam's "What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast." It changed everything. I quickly started reading the rest of her books. My favorite is "What The Most Successful People Do on the Weekend." Go pick both of them up. They are only 2.99 and are really short reads.

Laura's basic premise is weekends need to be planned. I know, some of you are instantly turned off.

Think about it. If you want a great weekend, you need to plan for a great weekend.

Here are three tips to make your weekend great!

1. Find Something Special. Something you can only do on a weekend, with the space you have access too.

2. Find Something Regular. Plan a normal activity, a special breakfast or place you make part of your weekend routine.

3. Find a Way to Build Relationships. This isn't just about you, but about those you love the most. Plan a great weekend that fills everyone up.

Tool Box Tip:
Do you have a day you regularly don't look forward too? Perhaps it is just a really tough day and you are avoiding it. Because of this, you won't give it your best. I recommend taking an extra hour and having your ideal morning before you get to the hard stuff. For me, this means plenty of time in scripture, Waffle House and around 30 minutes to drink coffee and read the internet. It puts me in the best possible mood to tackle whatever I need to do.

Productive Pastor Insiders List

I am super excited to release the Productive Pastor Insiders List. This will be a bi-weekly email featuring the best of the conversation about productivity, time management and the called life. It will be a place to feature community members and jump even more into the conversation.

As my FREE gift to you for signing up, I have developed an amazing weekly priority kit. It includes a weekly priority schedule, a day sheet and instructions on why I use this system every week. I want to give it to you just for signing up for the email list.

You can become a Productive Pastor insider HERE.

Direct download: ep15_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:37pm CST

The List:
The Complete Guide to Structuring your Ideal Work Day: By Rachel Feltman
This is a great article explaining how certain actions at certain times enhance personal productivity.

Gospel Driven Productivity: By Joe Stengle

I am really happy the theology of productivity is getting more press. This post is an interview with Matt Perman, author of What's Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done.

How To Stop Working 7 Days A Week: Carey Niewhof

Do you struggle with taking time off in ministry? Carey leads you through a practical examination that can help you stop and start sabbathing.

The Power of a Time Audit

Do you ever struggle with where your time went? I totally understand. I once had a director lead the entire ministry team through a time audit. It helped me tremendously learn to take control of my schedule and priorities.
If you want to get a handle on your productivity, the time audit is the first place to start.

Remember, you can't improve what you don't know.

Here are the 5 steps to a Time Audit:

1. Write out what you think you do.
2. Find a method.
3. Decide on an interval.
4. Take a week and do it.
5. Count it all up.

The time audit will give you a great baseline for personal productivity.

Direct download: pp14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Season 2 will launch May 23rd. I wanted to do a quick update for my subscribers and twitter followers. See you in a week.

Direct download: supersecret_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:07am CST

Since October of last year The Productive Pastor has had great success. It's all thanks to you. The listener community for this podcast is amazing. I love how many connections have been made and the conversations that have sprung up.

Over the last two weeks I have been producing what was going to be episode 12: The App Episode. I never was able to get an interview scheduled and wasn't satisfied with other parts of the production. I was getting frustrated with the whole thing.

Life (and Ministry) have also been chaotic. I realized if I wanted to keep up sharing and currating great content I need to take a break. And that was OK. I also need to put some energy behind a project I can really talk about just yet.

Television shows take breaks. They are called seasons.

So let's consider episodes 1-11 the first season. This episode is here to explain a few things and add to the theological conversation about productivity.

Episode 13 will start season 2. And it will totally rock. With it, I will be rolling out some additional content to the Productive Pastor community. So keep your eyes open. Give me a month or so. (we will absolutely be back up by the middle of May. I promise).

Thanks for listening.

Mentioned:
The Rocket Cast by The Rocket Company
My Sermon Planning Worksheet

Direct download: PP012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm CST

Over the last few episodes we have been talking about time periods of productivity. We thought about the month, several podcasts about the week. It is time to talk about the value of the day. I think this is one of the hardest pieces of productivity to master. It is easy to set big goals...it is harder to move them forward consistently each day (I even used a football reference for the first time in my career in this episode). I have been excited about this episode because I share one of my new favorite productive geek fascinations.

The List:
We have three great blog posts for you to check out this episode. They are all important to our conversation.

How to Measure Progress in Your Personal Goals: Daily, Weekly and Monthly: Belle Beth Cooper
Goals aren't worth that much if we aren't reaching them. To reach them, we need to track them. It's essential. She shares about monthly goals, review processes and easy ways to track progress.

The Best Times to Write and Get Ideas, According to Science: Kevan Lee
I think one of the secrets of high functioning people is their ability to know when they get things done. To realize certain times of the day seem to be wired for certain activities. What do you do better in the morning, afternoon or evening.

How to be Prolific: Guidelines For Getting It Done from Josh Whedon: Ari Karpel
Joss Whedon's ability to do many different things at the same time is amazing. Not multitasking, but handling several really big projects at the same time. This blog post is a great look into the mind of a creative genius.

How to Have a Productive (and Great) Day

I believe there is a secret to building a personal theology of "the day." This secret is simple. Know what you absolutly must do each day to move forward. Ministry is interesting because we can spend all of our time just keeping the ball in the air. I think this is a disservice to calling as well as the people we are ministering with.

Casey Graham (founder of The Rocket Company) wrote a really interesting blog post. He shared a secret to an extremely fruitful week in the life of his company.

How One Calendar Change Made Us $33,000

While our goal in ministry isn't to make money (no matter what people might say), there are some great lessons to be learned in Casey's blog post. Having a focused point of each day, even if it means devoting a whole day to mundane tasks, let anyone really do great work when it matters.

I have also become fascinated with Day Sheets and how they can help us organize each day. I discovered them pretty recently. Here are a few options for day sheets.

David Seah's Emergent Task Planner. (amazon purchase link)
Donald Miller's Storyline sheet
Ben Arment's Storycraft sheet

Bill Streger Interview
A few episodes back I first shared Bill's Massive Action Plan. It is a fantastic weekly planning sheet. I have a quick conversation with Bill about his church, his productivity strategy and his use of planning sheets.

BillStreger.com
@Billstreger
Weekly Massive Action Plan

Direct download: episode_11.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm CST

I am excited about this episode. No matter what you do, everyone has been in a slump. I have a problem with slumps because they are life stealing. They steal for us as individuals, those we work around and those we minister with. I want to share with you three ways to get out of a slump.

The List:

Six Incredibly Simple Things Highly Productive People Do Daily: Bogden Kipko
What Multitasking Does To Our Brain.

How To Get Out of a Slump:

If you listen to the podcast you know I am a fan of goals. I love goals for one reason. Goals help people move towards a preferred future. It might be personal, family or organizational. I believe this is the key getting out of a slump. Here are three tips to help you move forward.

Recollect: 
Circle your wagons. Collect your goals, worksheets and anything else you have half-way done. Get it all in the same place so you are able to actually get an accurate picture of where you are and where you aren't. Realize what is the biggest distraction or negative emotion that is causing you to slump. Give yourself a few minutes to just relax, let your mind wander or chase those distractions. 15 minutes to do whatever you want and then you are officially starting again.

Refocus:
Have you actually stated why you need to be doing this? Is it just a mindless task or can you attach a distinct "why" to it? If you can't, I would begin asking some serious questions about this actually being worth doing.

Reflect:
Think about the future outcome. Yes, you might be in the dreaded middle zone of a project, to deep to remember the beginning but not close enough to the end. There will be an end though. And at the end is the future everything is pushing towards. Reflect on what this preferred future looks like. Find a way to keep it in front of you. Add it to your prayer time, chase the vision with your team.

Listener Tips on how to get out of a slump:Charles Meeks: Change location, Change Music
Jonathan Andersen: Change your attitude. This is huge
Steve Lamotte: Change things. Tell his wife to tell him to get his act together.

Toolbox Tip:
Nerd out. I really get into my tools. I have found if I really like a certain tool (I recently bought myself this fountain pen), I will find myself being really productive just to use it. Find the most enjoyable way to work. Get a nice pen, invest in some good paper or a digital tool you know will be worth it.

Direct download: pp010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:35pm CST

009: How To Have a Productive (and Great) Month

Have you ever wondered where the month went? Sat back on the last few days and realize time has slopped through your hands? I want to talk exactly about that this episode.A Month is a great amount of time to use as part of a productive strategy for life and ministry.

The List:

1. Front Load Your Week and 3 Other Stress-Busting Time Management Strategies. 99u is constistently becoming my favorite website for productivity and other strategic leadership articles. This is a great article not just for weekly strategy practices, but many other times.

2. 10 Tips To Keep Your Desk Clean, Organized and Productive. I am horrible at keeping my desk area clean. I even wrote a blog post about clutter and how it relates to our spiritual walk. This blog post gives super practical ways to keep your work space clean and ready to go.

3. 30 Days of Hustle. Jon Acuff is running this free email series. The signup looks low-key, but the content is top notch. It will only take a few minutes a day. I am around half-way through it and I really dig it.

How to Have a Productive Month

Months are a long amount of time. But they are awesome at helping us get focused for one big reason. They can be broken up easily. You can do anything for 30 days. You can also divide most months up into 4 separate weeks. This makes it easy to slowly attack a problem or project and complete it in a succent amount of time. Imagine what your year could be like if you were able to accomplish 12 medium sized goals? 

No one is born productive, at least most of us aren't. We learn how to be and we learn how to be by developing systems and taking it all in one bite at a time. 

Here a some tips towards getting ready for a great, productive month. 

1. Prep the last week of the previous month. 
Set your big goal. Look at your calendar and find holes. Plan around big things. Special events, services, or anything else that will need big attention. Get a grasp on the big picture (sermon series, classes, bible studies, etc) and set your month up for maximum efficiency.

2. Production Calendar:
I put my sermons (2 a week), blogposts, articles, podcasts anything that is either deliverable or takes some research and preparation goes on my production calendar. I can move things around until there is a good focus and flow for what I am working on. I give everything on the calendar an evernote note, drop it in it's particular notebook and I know I always have a dumping ground for anything I come across that might apply. I will do a youtube video on my production calendar early next week and post it.

Anne Samilov post:  My Simple, No Sweat-No Struggle Content Creation Method. This is a GREAT post for anyone who has a hard time working on multiple projects.

3. Monthly Focuses
Our committees at church work off of a quarterly schedule of tasks. They build off each other and are seasonally appropriate. What are the monthly focuses you can have in ministry or personally you can attach to work slowly on across a month? Once a year you come back to them or they can be specific projects. This is the time to spend some attention to what otherwise might turn into a stressful event and get compressed into a small amount of time. Spend a few minutes every few days moving forward on what you decided you need to do. Remember, little chunks.

Toolbox Tip:Have you ever struggled with managing sharing articles and curating content as a ministry leader? This article from social media examiner gives really practical advice about automating sharing on social media.

How To Speed Up Your Content Curation Process.

Mentioned:
Bill Streger's  Weekly Massive Action Plan (pdf download)

Direct download: pp09.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CST

Have you ever noticed how hectic ministry can get? It is an interesting job because we always have certain things needing to get done every week (sermons, programing, teaching), but we also live with the realization at any moment an urgent emergency can take us away from our carefully planned schedule.  They can either blow up our scheudle or give us the best possible space to minister to other people. In this episode I share my tips to navigating the time bomb.

The List:
It's Not About "Productivity." It's About Living Purposefully. by Sam Spurlin
This is a great article. It totally gets the conversation we are having with the Productive Pastor. I encourage you to go read this and think about how and what narrative your schedule is telling others.

Navigating the Time Bomb:

Part of ministry is responding. We respond to crisis, emergencies and pastoral care. We are called to be the living presence of Christ in our areas of ministry. Sometimes that means dropping everything and being with people. It comes with the territory and we need to learn to be fully present in those moments, not distracted and thinking about what else we can be doing. Here are three tips to navigating the time bomb.

I like to use the analogy of jazz music. Jazz musicians can improvise beautifully. Before they get that talent they have to spend the time building a foundation. They practice scales, modes, chords, inversions and many other things for years to build up the ability to improvise. It is their foundation that lets them jump off into improvisation and brings them back into the structure of the song. Our schedule is our foundation. We improvise when we navigate time bombs.

1. Have a Structure for the Week.
Know what you are generally planning on doing each day. Have a good idea of what you want to accomplish over your workweek. This helps you build an exit and an on ramp for the times things get hectic.

2. Knowledge of the small, medium and big stuff.
We all have different tasks with different levels of importance. I typically do around 20 small tasks within 2 hours on Monday morning. It immediately clears up so much of my week The small tasks are also those things we can fit into 15-20 minutes. Our medium level tasks are usually small steps in long range projects. We might even be able to take them off our schedule for a week. Our big things need to only be one thing. It is the non-negotiable task for the week. Mine is my sermon. I will carve out time for that no matter what is going on.

3. Hustle.
Sometimes we just have to hustle. I recommend using some form of Pomodoro to put my nose to the grindstone. This webapp will help you hustle.

Resources Mentioned:The Emergent Task Planner

Share your productive space-Earlier in the year Mashable ran a great piece on taking a picture of your productive space. I really nerded out checking this out. Earlier this week I saw a great instagram picture listener Bill Streger posted (here is the picture). I think it would be awesome seeing all of your productive spaces, tips and how you keep your ministry organized. Tag your picture #productivepastor and share with us! You can keep up with peoples entries with the #productivepastor tagboard. Every picture will be an entry to winning a great prize package. If you review and rate on iTunes you get two entries!

Direct download: pp008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am CST

In this episode I want to share with you the three most productive times of my week. These are the three blocks of time I will fight for and I find essential to having a great week. I am a big fan of finding repeatable patterns and realizing the benefit of them. Some of these times I stumbled into and other times I heard about them from other people. I have incorporated these blocks of time into my week over years.

The List:

Busy Isn’t Respectable Anymore: Tyler Wardis
My Dad sent me this link in an early text message last week. It made me think of how many times I almost brag about my schedule to people. Internally, I think many of us do this, but what does it really communicate? If we are trying to develop and live out a theology of productivity, especially one that differs from the world, we need to take Tyler’s words to advice.

More Insights on Building a Rock Solid Routine: Jocelyn K. Glei
This is a great post with several links. What I like about it though isn’t the curation, it’s the focus on shipping. We all need to get things done. What we need to do even more is get things done with a purpose.

Honesty Moment:

What I have really been thinking about more is how and why we are supposed to be doing ministry the way we are/want too? I have struggled for years with taking a modern communication approach to my ministry and as I think about why I write and podcast I still struggle. There is a basic truth providing momentum to me over the last few months. The more I think about it I realize it is totally true.

We cannot wait for someone to hand us the ministry we have been called to.

This is a process of discernment. All of the conversation about productivity stems from this. Are we doing everything we can to be fully living inside of our own individual call? Our participation in moving forward is the reason we do focus on certain passions.

The Three Most Productive Times in My Week

I have three times I look forward to every week.

1. My Sunday Review:
I picked this up from Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Personal Life Plan and it helps so much. I use around an hour Sunday evening to review my goals, dream big as well as make sure loose ends are tied up. I also try to collect the things I need to pay attention to during the next week.

2. My Monday Morning Planning Session:
This started in seminary. I would sit down once a week to craft out my next 7 days. The actual time has shifted around (it used to be on Friday afternoons). This is when I get really practical. I get to my local coffee shop first thing in the morning and I design my week. I look at the things I collected the previous evening as well as check up on regular activities. I open my evernote weekly template and plug things in. I check all of these against my weekly talk plan and find the best place for everything to get done.

3. My Friday Creative Session:
I try to take Friday off. I am about 70% successful with this. I usually defend Saturday as a Sabbath, so from time to time I will catch up with certain work on Friday morning. I always make sure if something is pushed into Friday morning it is creative work. I use this time to plan out blog posts, podcast content and other parts of my creative life.

Toolbox Tip:
This isn’t revolutionary. We all need to find things that fill our life. We need to relax and enjoy who God made us to be. Find a hobby or other way to instantly decompress.

Resources:
Getting Things Done
Evernote Essentials

Direct download: PP007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12pm CST

productive pastor

In today's podcast I talk about my new favorite productivity trick. I use templates for EVERYTHING. I cannot imagine not having access to them. They are super handy for several different reasons and I will share those with you later on.

The List:Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Evernote from Timemanagementninja.com
Consider this to be a great introductory post on how Evernote can change the way you do life. Wouldn't it be amazing to not have to constantly be trying to remember everything all the time and have instant access to all your thoughts, lists and other information?

Mikes on Mics Podcast
This is another great producivity podcast I have really been enjoying over the holidays. I powered down several episodes while traveling and Mike and Mike do a great show.

You've Got 25,000 Mornings as an Adult: 8 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine: James Clear wrote a fantastic article about why mornings really matter and how they can be the best time of day for anyone. If you haven't taken advantage of mornings yet, I hope this convinces you.

Organize Your Life in 21 Days from Michael Lukaszewski
Michael, CEO of The Rocket Company, has put together a great free resource. I went through this email series late in 2013 and it is full of really practical tips to getting life more organized. It is done through quick email messages and gives you a few days to complete each task. I highly recommend it.

Up Your Productivity With Templates

How many times have you realized you missed doing a really simple task a couple of days back? For me, it was always sends the exact same email every Wednesday. I had to find a way to automate it, but it had to be customized every week. I tried putting a calendar reminder, but that didn't work either. It would go off at the wrong time and I would still forget.

I also like to evaluate regular events (like Sunday) and wanted to go through the same questions every time. This was a little bit more familiar. I realized I just needed to start setting up templates to organize many of the same tasks I do each week. Here are a few reasons templates can nearly instantly up your productivity.

1. They focus life. If anything is important in our life, personal or work, it has to be part of our habits. We focus so much of what we do around regular tasks, like exercising, reading, prayer and even event preparation, committee emails and other communication tasks. Templates help us with consistency.

2. They help us complete unnatural work.
There are certain tasks I need to accomplish weekly I am not naturally wired for. But that doesn't mean I can drop the ball. Having a template set up helps me to know it is coming and when it needs to be done.

3. They help us grow.
Templates keep us focused on what absolutely must be done. But they also help us track things. I use templates for many different things. Some are extremely task focused. Others tasks are template based because I want to build regular routines and rhythms. Doing the same thing over and over helps me with that.

My Weekly Tasks Template (pdf).

Tool Box Tip How many times do we know when we are worthless? I can tell you, without a doubt, I can't get anything done around 2;30. So I don't plan on it. I schedule really mindless tasks for this time. Or I take a quick nap or read a book. Getting over this 30-45 minute hump in my day the right way really affects what I do for the rest of the day.

Mentions:
I want to thank David Franks for winning our Christmas give away. He reviewed and rated The Productive Pastor on iTunes and shared on twitter. Thanks David!

I talked about the Evernote Essentials ebook on the episode. I highly encourage you to get this resource. If you have every wondered what you really should be doing, or could be doing with Evernote, this is the best way to learn.

A few episodes back I interviewed Jonathan Andersen and he gave us his template for Exegesis. In the shownotes I shared his template plus another one I was already using

Direct download: Episode006.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:50am CST

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