The Productive Pastor

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

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT

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 CDT