The Productive Pastor (general)

Do you enjoy meetings? I have a love/hate relationship with them. I have worked in places with great meetings and horrible meetings. Now that I am in charge of most meetings, I want to make them part of a positive leadership experience for others.

Front Material

1. Back to Fridays.
I tried an experiment with Monday release dates, but I have heard from you (and seen the release day stats) enough to move back to Friday release days. Next episode will come out on Friday, May 29th.

2. iTunes review and rating.
Big thanks to Uriah Oxford and Jason Wnc for leaving reviews and ratings on iTunes. This really helps the podcast get out. Do you want to win a free book? The first person to leave a review and rating after release date will get a free copy of JD Walt's book Called.

Making the Most of Meetings

Meetings can be a drag or an incredible tool for leadership. Think back to the places and experiences where you have had great meetings and bad meetings. What did you learn to do (or not to do)? What environments were great for meetings and what were crummy?

1. Plan
Why are you meeting? Do you need to meet? Think how many meetings can be accomplished through an email or text message. If you are just getting together to inform others of plans or because you have a meeting on the books...you probably don't need to meet.

2. Purpose
Once you have decided you do need to meet, think about the purpose. What is being decided at this meeting? Who is doing what during the meeting? Perhaps another team member needs to be leading a certain part of the meeting or the entire meeting altogether. Run through a checklist to make sure you are prepped and ready to go. Send out a brief agenda so folks come prepared.

3. Pow-wow
Get your team together. This should be fun as well as serious. I once had a boss that would either meet in a formal room or during a walk to the gas station to get a snack. Great things were accomplished in both settings because the team was just that...a team. They were focused on what was going on and able to collaborate towards shared purpose.

4. Path
Don't leave the meeting until you have a plan for what happens afterwards. Who is following up on what? What tasks are crucial to the goals the team is working towards?

If you put all of this work in and still don't have a plan for afterwards you are going to miss out on all the great work you have done.

Resources Mentioned.
Teams That Thrive: 5 Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership
Nancy Duarte- Meetings: When to Present and When to Converse
Lifehacker-Meeting Checklist
99u- Is this Meeting Necessary?

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: PP32.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:58pm CDT

One of the parts of the Productive Pastor I love doing is big ideas and big vision. But sometimes life needs to be taken in smaller chunks. The day to day is where we grind things out. So on this episode I want us to talk about two related ideas; list making and bottle necks.

 

Me and the Geek.
My friend Joel Sharpton is a podcast producer and host. His newest show is called "Me and the Geek" and it focuses on people with interests and skill sets and how they geek out in these areas. I was privileged to be on the show last week. You can listen to the episode here.

Lists and Bottlenecks

I think lists are the backbone of productivity. You have to be aware of what you are doing.

There are two kids of lists.

1. Forward projecting

2. Task Catching

Forward projecting lists are acquired from working downwards from a larger project. These are the action items of something much larger. Some of these tasks might be repeatable, or a one time task. Forward projecting lists are great because you can brain storm the necessary items, get input from others (which you are doing) and then find the holes. You don't necessarily have to do this in order, just be able to organize them when you are ready.

Task catching lists are something we all need. Let me ask you this-you are walking down the hall at church on a Sunday morning and someone catches you to ask you a question. They bring up a few things you need to remember for Monday morning. How do you remember them? Everyone needs a task catching method.

Bottlenecks.

Bottlenecks are the place things slow down on your list. It might be a specific type of task or a person a task is designated to. In every project you will hit bottlenecks. For solo pastors, we have to be really honest with ourselves in how we can cause bottlenecks.

Two things help us with bottlenecks.

1. Healthy systems. (Check out Michael Lukaszewski on episode 19. He's a systems jedi).
2. A healthy volunteer ministry. If we look at New Testament leadership, we find out about mobilization and influence. Folks want to be part of something that challenges them AND is well thought out.

Resources Mentioned.
Volunteer Rocket
Teams That Thrive: 5 Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership
Strengthfinders

Links Mentioned.
How I Podcast (My Podcasting Toolbox)
What I Learned Skipping Church

Direct download: TTF31.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38pm CDT

Do you have big rocks in your schedule? Or do you just do everything in the order it comes in? 

We are going to talk about making sure the right things are scheduled and scheduled first in this episode. 

5 Most Popular Productive Pastor Episodes

1. 17 Why You Need a Production Calendar
2. 14 The Power of a Time Audit
3. 16 Justin Wise on Call, Hustle and Why Goals Matter
4. 1 How to Reset your Morning
5. 5 A Conversation with JD Walt about Sabbath

Social Media Redux

1. schedugr.am-HT to Skye Mclain
2
Bufferapp.com power scheduler (use it. Trust me)
3. Meet Edgar-if only I had the money for this one. 

This last week I worked on being more intentional with my personal social media scheduling and was able to increase Productive Pastor downloads by 300%. Trust me, we can never stop being intentional enough with our social media scheduling. It free's us up to actually be social and interact with people. 

Scheduling the Big Rocks

Have you ever seen the illustration involving a jar, big rocks, pebbles, sand and water (or some variation). The basic idea is when we put the big (ie: most important) things in first we are able to get everything else in. This episode we are going to talk about how to schedule those big rocks. 

1. What Matters Most?
What are the things in your ministry or life that matter most? These are the things you must do. They might be tasks no one else knows about, but in order for your ministry to move forward they must be done. They can be the things that only you can do (hopefully this is the case). 

2. Yearly->Monthly->Weekly->Daily
What are you doing tomorrow? Having an accurate plan for what your week will look like is key. We can't just declare something important, never strategize how to attack it and expect it to get done. Big rocks are always part of a boulder. 

3. Weekly Planning
The Week is Where You Win.

I think the week is the time during our strategic productivity that provides the best results. If we can rock the week-we can do anything. Sit down with your big rocks and determine how much time they will take to accomplish. You are going to schedule that time first. 

4. Build Your Workflow

1. Meetings/Things that Don't Move.
2. Big Rocks
3. Medium stuff
4. Everything Else

Resources Mentioned

Week Dominator by NeuYear
The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson
The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Volunteer Rocket: I have been using this program for the last two months and I can't tell you how much it is affecting our ministry design at Foundry. It is expensive, but I would buy it all over again. 

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: pp30_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30am CDT

Welcome to the 29th Productive Pastor. This episode is all about social media scheduling and how that might affect transparency and honesty. I also give a social media scheduling sheet at the bottom of the shownotes. This whole episode came from this instagram picture from a few months back.

While I am not scheduling a month in advance right now, I totally believe in mapping out social media scheduling. My friend David Lyell asked a great question and I promised I would hit it up in a future episode. Well now you have it!

The Middle

Thanks for all the great folks who shouted out about the last episode with Omar and Michelle. They got open and honest with us and it really resonated with people.

I also want to thank Michael Romans for this awesome tweet.

Project Management Links 

We did a couple of episodes on project management in season two and I found two great links this week about project management tools. I want to share them with you, I think both are great ideas for how to actually manage a project.

How To Organize Your Entire Life with Trello

No Project Manager? Try Bullet Journaling for Business Productivity

How to use Social Media Scheduling (and not lose your soul)

I believe highly in social media scheduling, just for the sake of productivity, much less for intentionality. Many people argue that doing great social media takes to much time, but with scheduling you can take care of it in a few minutes a week. Let's break this into the Why, What, When, Who and How.

Why
If you think everyone in your network see's the posts you make, you will be really surprised. A tweet has a lifespan of about 18 minutes, Most Facebook page updates are seen by 6-20% of the audience. I think Instagram probably has the best ratio, but I am not convinced they aren't using a viewing algorithm. If you want to make maximum impact, you have to schedule your most important updates.

Simply Measured for Facebook

What
Look at your insights, analytics and statistics. Let that data tell you what you need to be posting, what people are responding to best and how they are responding.

When
What are the best times of the day for you? When is it a bad idea to post?

Who
Your data tells you who follows you. What questions should that make you ask?

How
Each network has the best tools to schedule your posts. For Facebook I recommend the native scheduling ability. For twitter I use hootsuite. There is now a way to externally schedule instagram with www.latergram.me. I am a big fan of buffer for personal twitter and facebook sharing, but I find it isn't the best for organizational scheduling.  

So how do I use this sheet?
I highlight one thing to be my Major Emphasis. This is the most important "thing" I am trying to communicate that week. I also have a few medium items as well. I also make sure to emphasize a few posts that are more than likely to get high levels of engagement (based on my research). I then begin to fill in my posts for each network based off of the times I know things work best in each network. If a post is really important, I make sure to schedule it at the time I know the most people are online. I feel in the blanks after that.

Productive Pastor Social Media Schedule (download)

Transparency
The kicker in all of this is exactly what Dave asked about. We have to be strategic but we also have to be transparent. Folks will shut us off in a heartbeat if we are just advertising to them. Part of the beauty of doing this all at one time is realizing how you aren't being social and you are just asking, asking and asking.

Resources Mentioned

Justin Wise Think Digital.

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: PP29.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am CDT

This episode of the Productive Pastor will be a little bit different. I have a conversation with Omar Rikabi and Michelle Manual. Both of these conversations are centered around how productivity relates with our call and soulcare. These conversations stemmed out of the New Room conference this past year in Nashville. Omar and Michelle are friends from seminary. We had great conversations together and I wanted to attempt to repeat them for the podcast.

You can find Omar’s writing at http://omarrikabi.com/
You can find Michelle’s writing at https://dreadedpastor.wordpress.com/

Mentioned
Called: Following a Future Filled with the Possible by JD Walt

Direct download: PP28final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Today I interview one of the top leaders in ministry in the modern world, Carey Nieuwhof, the pastor of Connexus Church in Ontario, Canada. This episode is full of absolute gold.

I wanted to have this conversation with Carey because of his unique situation in ministry. He has served in the same town for decades and has some of the same people with him since the beginning. I let Carey tell you the nuts and bolts of this story. Here are the questions I used to guide our conversation.

1. How did your approach to productivity shift as your ministry changed?
2. How do you defend your time?
3. What message about productivity would you like to give listeners?

The part of our conversation I appreciated the most was when we talked about proactive vs. reactive. It has been a topic on my mind lately and I imagine I will be devoting a future episode to the topic.

Make sure to check out Carey's blog and podcast. You can find him on twitter @cnieuwhof

The Back Matter

Mentioned:
My Favorite Productivity Tools
The Week Dominator

 The Bookshelf:
Center Church by Tim Keller

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: carey_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am CDT

Welcome to the third season of the Productive Pastor. I am really excited about this season and I want to share a few things with you before we jump into the episode.

New Content: I am working up a great way to feature different folks in the productive pastor community. One of the things I am fascinated with is other peoples work flows and space. Look for the "How I Pastor" series coming out soon.
New Conversations: The Productive Pastor has always had an undercurrent conversation about call and a theology of time management. We will let this conversation come up for air a little more this season. Until then-here are two great episodes for background information.

1. Episode 4: Starting a Theology of Time Management.
2. Episode 5: JD Walt on Sabbath

New Resources: I am committing myself to putting together 3-4 new resources this season for you and give them away. Most of these are in development right now.

How to Read for Maximum Effectiveness

Most of us in ministry are readers. If not, you need to be. Readers are leaders and leaders are Readers. It is a cliche...but totally the truth. The best pastors and ministry leaders are the ones constantly learning.

Reading can easily be a drag. We don't know what to read or how to go about retaining the information. There are services out there giving you book summaries...but let's be honest. Most of them are barely passable.

Maximizing your reading is all about developing a system for reading.

What really opened my eyes up over the last 6 months was a series of articles by Ryan Holiday.

1. How and Why to Keep a Common Place Book
2. The Notecard System: The Key to Remembering, Organizing and Using Everything You Read.
3. Read to Lead: How To Digest Books Above Your Level. 

Let me be honest with you. I first read these articles in the summer and spent to much time digging around the rest of Ryan's archives. But the secret I found really isn't a secret. Tons of other people manage to read an inordinate amount of material and keep ahead of it...all while managing other jobs.

The secret to reading for maximum effectiveness is to intentionally (and strategically) plan your retention.

1. Map out your reading. 
I did this for 2015. Other books will fall in with this, but I have a reading plan. Think of it like a course list for college or seminary. I have a path.

2. Find a time.
For me it is in the mornings after my walk and in the mid-afternoon. This is when my mind is at a "reading mode" the best.

3. Have a system.
Just working through a book and randomly highlighting, flagging and marking won't get you anywhere. Figure out a way to truly mark up the book and then save it. I use my own system of flags, notecards and evernote.

4. Process your reading.
Once a month I process all my reading. I go through the analog notes and input them into evernote. If it is a Kindle book-you can route them into Evernote (HT: Michael Hyatt). I follow my markup system and if anything needs it's own special note in Evernote, I make it. Each book also goes into it's own note.

This sounds laborious, but imagine what it can be like in 10-20 years when you have an extensive research library you can search, right at your fingertips and it is your own thoughts.

The Back Matter

The Bookshelf: Over the last two weeks I have been reading 2 great books I want to recommend.
1. Simplify: Ten practices to Unclutter your Soul by Bill Hybels
2. Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization by Greg Atkinson

Michael Lukaszewski (episode 19) has a great new company called Church Fuel. Their main product is a year program focused on systems. It looks great.

Our next episode will be a conversation with several people about call, time management and how their own personal theological development of productivity has affected their life.

 

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: PP26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT