The Productive Pastor (general)

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT