The Productive Pastor
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

This episode of the Productive Pastor Podcast will be just a little different. Since it is the holiday season and many of us will be taking some time off, I decided it was time to have a conversation about Sabbath. For this topic...I know only one person who could share with us.

JD Walt is the sower-in-chief for Seedbed. This is fancy language for chief executive officer. I spent several years working with JD and it was one of the best working relationships and friendships I have ever had. JD is a practical theologian with an amazing command of scripture and the Christian life. He is also the first Sabbath keeper I have ever met.

JD shares with us a conversation about Sabbath, peace and chaos and what the sabbath keeping life is like. He gives some practical rhythms of keeping Sabbath as a family.

Mentioned Resources:
Sabbath Keeping, It's About Time by JD Walt. This is a great FREE resource.
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting by Marva Dawn

JD Walt:
jdwalt.com
@jdwalt

Direct download: Episode_005.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:30am CST

What does it mean to be a productive pastor? In this episode we begin the conversation of a theology of time management. I look at three beginning ideas.

1. Productivity vs. Call

2. Learning to live a quiet life

3. What we spend our time doing tells who we are

As always, we have some great blog posts to share on The List and a tip from the toolbox.

Direct download: 004.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:23pm CST

003: Building a Priority Based Schedule

On the third episode of The Productive Pastor Podcast we tackle the topic of priorities and their place in your weekly routine. 

I have found my week runs smoother and I feel I have accomplished more when I consistently am able to compare my work to the priorities I have set up. Every part of this episode, from The List to the Toolbox focuses on what it means to routinely accomplish priorities and how this action gives us more time for what we care about and what we are most effective at. Content includes The List, 5 Steps To Building A Priority Based Schedule and a tip from the toolbox about daily routines.


Thanks for listening to this third episode. Keep on using the #productivepastor on twitter and Facebook. You can follow me at @revchadbrooks on twitter, Facebook, google plus and instagram. As always, I appreciate your iTunes review and rating!

Direct download: Episode_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm CST

002: Interview with Jonathan Andersen

In episode two we talk about plenty of great productivity practices for ministry leaders. Chad shares three great blog posts found around the internet and interviews Jonathan Anderson. Jonathan is a pastor in Georgia and is a person to learn from! Jonathan shares some of his practices for sermon preparation, how he keeps in contact with people and strategies of working in team based ministry.

As always, we dig into the toolbox and share a favorite productivity tip. The Productive Pastor Podcast is also giving away a 3 pack of the brand new Pitch Black Field Notes Brand notebook, Chad's preferred brand of pocket notebooks for daily use.

For full show notes, please visit productivepastorpodcast.com

Direct download: 002Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05pm CST

Have you ever struggled with how to get a great start in the morning. I want to give you tip on our first episode, and it is time dependent. It is the easiest and best way I have ever found to take control of the morning. I also bring in some listener feedback and talk about what is the most important thing ministry leaders need to be making time for in the day.

Direct download: 001_Resetting_your_mornings.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11am CST

The Productive Pastor is coming soon! This podcast is for ministry leaders to talk about productivity and time management and how we live that out inside the called life. While you wait for the first full episode to get here, check out host Chad Brooks' story and why he loves the idea of productivity.

Direct download: Preview_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:52pm CST