Ideas for successful remote work with kids

Successful remote work with kids

Successful remote work with kids.

At the writing of this post, we are all under quarantine for the Corona Virus. Many people have been displaced from their jobs to be at home. Some are fortunate enough to be able to work from home remotely. The challenges come in not really on the tech side, but on the home culture side of working while their kids are out of school as well. Here are a few ideas for Successful remote with kids.

It is my desire to provide some helpful advice, resources, and ideas to have successful remote work with kids.

General ideas for Successful remote work with Kids.

  • Allow your child to help create a daily schedule and incorporate things they love from school into their day
  • Let your team, clients, and coworkers know what times are best and least favorable for you to meet because of your home schedule.
  • Plan meetings and calls during their scheduled homework and Chores time, so they are busy, focused and quiet.
  • Take necessary breaks and connect with the kids. Eat lunch together, play a game, go for a walk.
  • Reward good behavior with a treat, activity, fun ‘privilege’ or something of value for your kids.
  • Implement a good old-fashioned chore list. Pinterest has tons of resources and recommendations on appropriate chores by age.
  • Wake up earlier or stay up later (depends on how God made you to be. Are you an early morning person or a night owl person) to get email, tasks, and more done before or after the kids get up or go to bed.

 

Young Kids (preschool)

 

Elementary Kids (K-5th grade)

  • Find tips, resources and connection opportunities in the Facebook Group, Parents & Kids Coronavirus Support, for daily activities for each grade, parent support, and more.
  • Take virtual field trips. For a complete list, follow this link.
  • Take advantage of education companies that offer free subscriptions due to school closings. For a complete list, follow this link.

Families

  • Depending on the age of your kids, instill a ‘quiet time’ for important calls and work
  • Meal plan and include interactive meals: Make your own pizza, Taco bar, Potato bar. Take advantage of these interactive times you strategically make so that your kids will respect your solitude times.
  • Plan scavenger hunts. With this one, you can have the winner get to choose an extra 30 minutes of quiet time how they want to use the time. If you win, then take an extra 30 minutes to complete a work assignment.
  • Dedicate working space, use earbuds, to help block out any noises you may not be used to at your remote office.
  • Remind them to make phone calls or FaceTime, Marco Polo with friends and relatives that they can’t visit.
  • Spend a few minutes every Sunday night planning your next week as much as possible. Create and have the whole family look over the next week. When we help our whole family to be in on the schedule they will live it more faithfully.
  • Have a cooking or baking contest. This is again another time to involve everyone in talking, laughing, time together. Kids will be more likely to help you keep your quiet time. Quiet times if they feel they had your attention throughout the day.

It is possible to have successful remote work with kids.

I have found over the years that with just a little extra thought, remote working is some of the most rewarding work you can do. You get to enjoy the best of both worlds if you take responsibility for your work environment.

What are your thoughts about:

  1. What habits have you found most beneficial to develop to be successful in remote work with kids?
  2. What other resources do you use to help in successful remote work with kids?

When you have a moment read my post Over the 4 workweeks. This book does have some ideas and resources to help you work remotely as well.

Task Management is for Everyone

To do list

Starting this post off with announcing how I had the privilege of speaking on a friend’s podcast, Tom Bump who has a podcast called Kids Ministry Collective. We talked about Task management for Everyone.

I enjoyed how we took this topic on together and in one of those light-hearted conversations. In today’s world, there is seldom just 1 right way to do things, task management isn’t one of those things either. Tom and I agreed on that and set forth in setting that tone throughout the whole podcast. Go in and listen to Task Management for Everyone and post your thoughts and comments on this blog to let me know your thoughts?

4 Reasons you may be having an issue with Task Management. 

1. You deny that you even have a Task management issue.

Have you ever said, “If only I had more time I could have accomplished X, Y, and Z.” Of course, we can’t have more than 24 hours in a day, so why waste our mental energy thinking like this?
Complaining that there is not enough time will never create more time. It just makes you feel better for a moment. Complaining about the lack of time prevents you from facing reality: something is broken. Stop saying that you don’t have enough time to complete your tasks. Instead, admit that you need to get better at managing your task and stop trying to manage time, which we have no control over. Task management is for everyone.

2. Not Planning out your day.

It’s important to plan out your day for maximum efficiency. You don’t have to know what you’re doing minute-by-minute, but try to set 3 Big daily goals, as Michael Hyatt talks about in his book Free to Focus.
Spend a few minutes in the evening laying out your clothes and prepping your meals for tomorrow. Reviewing your calendar will help you mentally, save time in the morning and reduce decision fatigue.
Whether you use a calendar app or jot-down a detailed to-do-list, planning out your day gives you structure so you aren’t scrambling to figure what’s next.

3. Letting the “urgent” overtake the “important.”

I use the Eisenhower Matrix to help me prioritize my tasks so that I don’t let the urgent take control of my schedule. Take all of your tasks and place them into four quadrants:
  • To do first. These are the most important responsibilities that need to be done today or tomorrow.
  • Schedule. For important tasks that are not urgent, you can schedule them into your calendar.
  • Delegate. If there are essential items that are not important, you can hand them off to someone else.
  • Don’t do. What tasks aren’t important or urgent? Delete these from your lists or add them to a “would like to do if I ever get a chance.”

4. Having to wake up early.

Take a moment to read other task management pieces. You’ll find one of the most common pieces of advice shared is to wake up early.
As someone who is a morning person I completely understand this reasoning. Let’s say you wake-up an hour earlier. You can use that time to review your calendar, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, read without getting distracted.
Here’s the thing. Setting your alarm to 4 a.m. is not the answer. Even though I enjoy that time. It’s all about working around your peak productivity and setting aside blocks of time to focus on your priorities. Think about it this way. If you’re a night owl like my wife is you’re going to be miserable if you start waking up at some unbelievable hour.
Plan out your days to work on your most important tasks when you have the most energy and focus. If your peak is at sunset, that’s when you should block out the time to focus on your more important tasks. It’s a much better strategy than fighting against your body’s internal clock.
Just doing these 4 easy adjustments, makes Task Management for Everyone.
Which one of these do you struggle with?
What new ones would you add to these 4?
Read more related posts here:

Effectively Starting New Ministry Positions will Keep You Out of Trouble

Productive Start

New-season in my life started back in November of 2019. My family and I were hired by a church in Kentucky, Community Family Church. We were very excited to start the new adventure and wanted to start strong but not just pull out our bag of tricks. I turned to a great book titled The First 90 Days – Success Strategies for New Leader by Harvard professor Michael Watkins. When I had first read this book back in the day, it helped me in effectively starting my new ministry position which Kept me out of trouble. 

The First 90 Days can be broken down into 5 main topics; 

  1. Get yourself focused
  2. Learn your new role faster
  3. Choose the best strategy
  4. Make good things happen right away
  5. Build a winning team

I just knew this would be a good idea to break this book out of my library again and brush up on some of the key concepts. I first read this book several years before I started a new ministry. It served me well and helped me define my road-map for the first 90 days of my new role. To build the momentum that I needed and help me get my ducks in a row to provide a clear path to grow the ministry. I figured it would do the same again this time while helping me to stay away from just pulling that bag of tricks out which I see so many pastors do. 

Below I will do my best to summarize the main points of the book. It is good to keep in mind this is a business book and not specifically a ministry book, but as I have said, it is easy to convert the principles in this book to ministry. There is another book that has come out that I now own as well that is directed toward ministry and I think takes inspiration from this book titled: Every pastor first 180 days by Charles Stone.

Focus Yourself

  • Mentally prepare yourself for your new role.
  • Put the past behind you. What worked before won’t necessarily serve you well now. Don’t ignore what you don’t know.
  • Along those same lines; Establish a clear breakpoint. Celebrate the transition and then be done. Do whatever it takes to forget your old role and focus on the new.
  • Hit the ground running. At the 90 day mark, your boss, your peers, your direct reports expect you to be making an impact.
  • Look at your vulnerabilities. Identify your “problem preferences”. That is; the problem you prefer to work on. Make a point not to neglect the activities you do not enjoy or activities that do not come naturally.

Accelerate Your Learning

  • Define your learning agenda. What do you need to learn 1st, 2nd, 3rd?
  • Adopt a structured learning method. This is a favorite of mine! This step has served me quite well in the past.
  • Meet with your new boss and direct reports and ask the following questions;
      • What are the biggest challenges the organization (or team) is facing (or will face) in the near future?
      • Why is the organization (or team) facing (or going to face) these challenges?
      • What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
      • What would need to happen or the organization (or team) to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
    • If you were me, what would you focus on?

Match your Strategy to the Situation

  • Be sure to correctly diagnose the situation
    • Start-up. Is this a new team (or ministry)?
    • Turnaround. Are the groups in trouble and you need to get things back on track?
    • Realignment. Do you need to revitalize the project, team or processes?
    • Sustaining Success. Is this a well-oiled machine that you simply need to keep moving in the right direction?
  • Understand History. What got the team, ministry, church to the current state. Seek to understand history.
  • Focus your energy. Ask yourself;
    • How much emphasis will I place on learning versus doing?
    • How much emphasis will I place on offense versus defense?
    • What should I do to get some early wins?

Make good things happen right away

  • It is crucial to get some early wins. You want to make sure your boss, peers, and subordinates all feel that something new and good is happening.
  • Here are some of the most common mistakes that will prevent something new and good from happening;
    • Failing to focus. It’s easy to take on too much during a transition. The results can be disastrous.
    • Not taking the business situation into account. The definition of an early win will differ greatly based on the situation you are in.
    • Not adjusting to the corporate culture. If you are an outsider, make understanding the culture a high priority. I will blog on this for sure at a later time.
    • Failing to get wins that matter to your boss. Be it right, wrong or indifferent, if it’s not important to your boss, it’s not important.
    • Letting your means undermine your ends. Avoid being perceived as manipulative, underhanded or going against corporate culture.
  • Establish long term goals
    • Be consistent with organizational priorities.
    • Introduce the new patterns of behavior you want to install in the organization (or team).
  • Build your credibility. Your earliest actions with your new team will have a huge influence on how you are perceived.
  • Negotiate success (Part I). Engage with your new boss to establish realistic expectations. Here are a few things to avoid when engaging with your new boss;
    • Don’t trash the past. Nothing can be gained from criticizing your predecessors.
    • Don’t stay away. If your boss doesn’t reach out to you, reach out to him or her.
    • Don’t surprise your boss. Even bad news is OK as long as it is not a surprise.
    • Don’t approach your boss only with problems. Be sure to understand the problem and identify what you’ll (realistically) need before approaching your boss.
    • Don’t run down your checklist. It’s rare that your boss wants to hear every little thing you are working on.
    • Don’t try to change your boss. Adapt to his/her style rather than the other way around.
  • Negotiate success (Part II). Engage with your new boss to establish realistic expectations. Here are a few things you should do when engaging with your new boss;
    • Take 100% responsibility for making the relationship work.
    • Clarify mutual expectations early and often.
    • Negotiate timelines for diagnosis and actions.
    • Aim for early wins in areas that are important to your boss.
    • Try to get “good grades” from those whose opinions your boss respects.
  • Achieve Alignment. You want to make sure your organization or team is all marching in the same direction. Try to avoid some of the common mistakes;
    • Resist changing any structure until you understand whether the restructuring will address the root cause of any problems.
    • Creating structures that are too complex. Don’t over-engineer things.
    • Automate problem processes. If the process is flawed, fix the process first. Don’t be tempted to automate a flawed process.
    • Make changes for change’s sake.
    • Overestimate your team’s capacity to absorb change. Focus on a few vital priorities and make changes gradually if time permits.

Build your team

  • A high performing team can create tremendous value. Avoid the following common mistakes when creating your organizational plans;
    • Some leaders clean house too quickly, but it’s more common to keep people on-board too long.
    • Not repairing the airplane. Molding a team is like repairing a plane in mid-flight. You will not reach your destination if you ignore the necessary repairs.
    • Not holding on to good people.
    • Starting team-building before the core team is in place.
    • Trying to do it all yourself.
  • Assess your existing team. During your first 30-60 days, assess who is who, who are the high performers, who are the sub-par performers. Don’t suppress these early impressions, but take a step back from them and take the time to make a more vigorous evaluation.
  • If your success depends on the support of people outside your direct line of command, it’s important to create coalitions to get things done.
  • I will be blogging on most of this in more detail as I walk you through how I fleshed out each of these items.
  • When starting a new ministry or job, what steps from above are your strengths? Weaknesses? Which ones would you add to this?

3 Things to Help Improve Yourself

Change ahead sign

Improving oneself is always a great thing to do. Unfortunately, we all know and maybe we are that person ourselves who acquire a ton of knowledge and the latest and greatest task management, self-improvement information but still remains the same. I want to share with you 3 things to help improve yourself.

Many live off the theory of “Knowledge is power”, but I disagree. I think the application of knowledge is power. What are the things we can do to start helping us apply all of our knowledge?

Allow me to list 3 things that I see that if applied will at least be a great start to the application process of all of the great information you have acquired. 3 things to help improve yourself.

 

Ask for FEEDBACK from trusted people in your circle of trust. 

Often times we need to seek the feedback of those we have chosen to trust. Those close friends who we have given the red carpet treatment that says they can speak whatever they want to into our lives and we will weigh it heavily because we trust them. They have a good track record with us for giving selflessly and honest feedback into our lives. They care about us and our future.

If you do not have established this kind of person in your life right now, outside of just a spouse, stop reading this and go find them, then come back and read the rest of this post.

 

Focus on EXECUTION. 

 

Hire a Coach. 

If you are at an important moment in your development and growth as a leader, coaching can help bring clarity and focus to where you are in your development, and help you discern what might be next.

The benefits of coaching an individual include:

  • Improvement in an individual’s performance, targets, and goals
  • Increased openness to personal learning and development
  • Increased ability to identify solutions to specific work-related issues
  • Greater ownership and responsibility
  • Development of self-awareness
  • Improvement of specific skills or behavior
  • Greater clarity in roles and objectives
  • The opportunity to correct behavior/performance difficulties

There are many great coaching individuals and coaching ministries out there. One I would obviously recommend is my own. You can find out more by clicking over to my web site coaching tab.

Find a way to practice these 3 things and watch your work and life increase in its effectiveness.

11 tools to improve your performance

At the 2017 GLS, Marcus Buckingham challenged everyone to re-think performance management. He said, “Leading is taking someone’s unique gifts and finding a way to help them contribute to the world.”

Here was a great blog by the Global leadership network where they have provided 11 tools to help equip you to improve performance management at your workplace. Click the links to go directly to each resource.

Enjoy.

1) Blog Article: Why the Best Leaders Know that Frequency Matters—Marcus Buckingham

2) Blog Article: 4 Things Great Leaders Do to Raise Performance—Ken Burkey

3) Blog Article: The Surprising Alignment of Marcus Buckingham and Moses—Jenni Catron

4) Blog Article: 3 Essentials to Manage Your Own Performance—Sheila Heen and Elane Lin Hering


5) GLSnext Video: The Best Way to Get a Reliable Performance Review, Marcus Buckingham

6) GLSnext Video: Why Coaching Trumps Feedback, Marcus Buckingham

7) GLSnext Video: Identifying and Rewarding Top Performers, Laszlo Bock

8) GLSnext Video: A Method for Dealing with Low Performers, Laszlo Bock


9) GLS Podcast: Episode 013: Marcus Buckingham with Bill Hybels and Jeff Lockyer. At the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, leadership expert, Marcus Buckingham, challenged us with new research on performance management. In this episode of the GLS Podcast, Jeff Lockyer talks with Bill Hybels about the practical ways he manages leaders at Willow Creek to maximize their performance.

10) GLS Podcast: Episode 014: Liz Wiseman. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman describes research around the management style of three types of leaders: The “multiplier leader” who amplifies the intelligence of the leaders around them, the “diminisher leader” who exhausts and frustrates the people with whom they interact and the “accidental diminisher” who unintentionally has a diminishing effect.


11) The Marcus Buckingham/Performance Management GrowthTrack. By enrolling in this GrowthTrack, you will receive free access to the resources above and many more resources—all tailored to develop your skills in performance management.

Gauges To Measure In Family Ministry part 3

Last day of discussing 5 ministry gauges to help you do family ministry better.

A brief overview of the earlier 3 Gauges:

Gauge 1: Strategy. Take time to strategically put some things in place to focus on the end goal, will lead to better steps along the way.

Gauge 2: Experience Gauge: Craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences.

Gauge 3: Groups Gauge: Self-reliance is one of the greatest threats a church leader can face. It overestimates your abilities and diminishes the impact of your team. So develop your teams!

Now Today, the last 2 Gauges.

Gauge 4: Service Gauge: Are you creating consistent opportunities for kids and students to experience personal ministry?

Here are some things that will begin to happen if you ignore the service gauge.

  • Parents become programmed to see the church as a provider of services for their kids.
  • Leaders never recognize that the discipleship process is also about influencing a student to serve and care for others.
  • Students established a consumer mindset about the church.
  • Communities continue to perceive the church as institutional and insulated.
  • Individual families never experience a sense of calling and mission to make others a priority.
  • Students fail to experience and realize their calling to care for others, and they leave the church without a passion to pursue God’s calling in their lives.

 

The last Gauge to pay attention to would be…

5. Personal Gauge: Are you taking care of yourself?

  • Be a student. “If you’ve closed your mind off to any learning, you’re not a student.”
  • Be balanced. “No one wins when you lose your family. No one wins when you quit your job.”

I have found over the years that paying attention to these 5 gauges can help all of us as we attempt to get our family ministry on the right page. These five gauges are excellent for evaluating where your ministry now stands, and they will help you continue to grow.

So, what are some other gauges you may use in your family ministry?

 

Family Ministry Gauge to Measure part 2

If you have not read part one jump over there first.

Now, if you have read it but need a recap of the first 2 gauges we talked about to help all of us to improve, here is that recap:

Gauge 1:  Strategy Gauge: Making sure you have aligned your systems and processes so that your staff, your leaders, and your parents lead with the same end-in-mind.

 

Gauge 2: Experience Gauge: Craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences. You don’t want people to leave without feeling like they were a part of an experience. It is that experience that people share around the water cooler on Monday.

Now for the third Gauge:

Groups Gauge: Here is where you want to make sure you are creating a culture that truly grows and develops leaders who serve in your ministry. Self-reliance is one of the greatest threats a church leader can face. It overestimates your abilities and diminishes the impact of your team. So develop your teams!

Volunteers matter. A community is formed there. There is an importance in serving in that ministry. There is also an importance of “prioritizing small groups at every stage of life”.

Life examples:
1. Place preschoolers in small groups to connect parents.
– parents want to know the people who keep their kids to know their kids
– in the toddler room, small group leader in the room is connected to 8 kids. Everyone cares for every kid, but that leader has 8 kids to follow-up on and care for. Changes everything about communication.
– small groups help little people understand the big idea of God they can’t see by connecting Him to their concrete worlds
– in small groups, kids learn from leaders how to pray and talk to God.
– with parents, you are working against parents’ sense of apprehension. Relationships take that away!
2. Place elementary kids in small groups to help them understand faith and lead them to take the next steps toward Christ
– most of what we learn foundationally, we learn in elementary school.
– help apply big ideas from the Word to their lives. Never just teaching to teach. Never just covering information.
– relational investments in kids give influence to both parents and kids.
– creates a consistent environment to learn bible skills and spiritual habits
– safe and relational environment for kids to ask questions about trusting in Jesus
3. Middle school: help them personalize their faith.
– a place to belong. they are looking for their pack.
– A safe place to discuss challenging issues
– challenge kids by application of scripture
4. High school: give another adult voice
– the greatest gift for a high school parent is another adult pointing them in the same direction
– in the middle of the crowd, they don’t want to be alone.
– challenge students to put faith in action
If you start small groups in high school, kids won’t be comfortable. That’s why you start in preschool years. Most importantly, start with whatever and wherever you are. This group gauge will look different between small and large churches. The basic difference is: in a small church, you don’t need to break the church down smaller. Use the gathering times you may already have to carry out the group’s gauge. In a large church, you need to break the church down into smaller groups for everything explained above.

 

I hope you see the importance of this “Group Gauge”. How may you change and improve your group gauge in your ministry? Why do you see this as a valuable thing to do?

5 Family Ministry Gauges To Continually Measure

I have a regular weekly habit of re-reading my notes taken over the years from conferences, books that I read, leadership meetings and seminars that I get the privilege of attending and more. I schedule 2 hours every week to do this. During one of these times, I ran into some notes from a Family Ministry conference that I attended. This post is an attempt to share some of these great nuggets that I still find important to measure that stem from attending this conference a couple of years ago.
The speaker, Terry Scalzitti, is a senior pastor at a church in Oceanview Baptist Church (Myrtle Beach, SC), but he spent several years doing “next gen” ministry in Florida. He started off his pre-conference workshop with Deuteronomy 6:6 to focus on why we do what we do.
A brief overview in an attempt to help start us all on the same page:
  • We all want to be better at what we do, because we believe that what we do matters.
  • You can leverage what is cultural, what is changing, to communicate what is eternal. If we don’t, we are the ones that look like a fool.
  • If you want to build something that lasts, you have to be willing to change what you build.
  • When you upgrade your system (when you’re willing to change), you highlight the mission in a clear way.
Now that we are all on the same playing ground, let me share the 5 gauges that Terry shared to help us do ministry better:
1. Strategy Gauge: Align systems so that your staff, your leaders, and your parents lead with the same end-in-mind? Sounds like common sense but poll all 3 of those groups sometimes separately and you may be amazed at the diverse answers you get.
Taking the time to Plan and think strategically as you work every week on moving the ball forward with the common mission and vision of the church can sometimes create a feeling of not being able to see the forest through the trees. Take time to strategically put some things in place to focus on the end goal, will lead to better steps along the way.
If the strategy isn’t improved…
  • Silo-Thinking becomes the mentality of staff.
  • Over-programming and competing systems dilute the effectiveness of the church.
  • There is no consistent forum to test and change ineffective programming. (As you test, keep the end in mind. Keep it constructive.)
  • Leaders and volunteers get disillusioned with lack of direction.
  • Parents struggle with how to partner with the church.
2. Experience Gauge: Craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences.
Terry stated, “I don’t want people to leave without feeling like they were a part of an experience.”
According to Leonard Sweet, an experience is:
  • Experiential
  • Participatory
  • Image-driven
  • Connective
How do we create this? We simplify, and we connect with our audience.
If an experience isn’t improved…
  • Parents and leaders will probably never teach the same truths as a synchronized effort.
  • The church is perceived as irrelevant. (People need to hear something practical. Know your audience.)
  • Individual leaders will tend to teach whatever they think is important.
  • A canceling effect happened to important core truths. (They need simple truths that are easy to understand and they can apply.)
  • Biblical truths are viewed as boring and irrelevant.
These are the first 2 of the 5 Family Gauges to make sure you are measuring, evaluating and testing. It is a firm belief of mine that all things important, we will measure and keep track of. If you want to test this, try and forget your wedding anniversary, or, stop measuring how many sweets you eat. You get the idea. Living the bigger picture of what God has for all of us is so important to me that measuring, changing and not giving up is of utmost importance to see the results that I know should and can be achieved.
Stay tuned for the other 3 Gauges…

Great apps for Pastors

Great Tools and Apps for Pastors

Evernote is more than just a powerful note-taking application that allows you to organize notebooks or notebook stacks around topics that are important to you. If you want to dig deeper into this tool check out this Evernote blog. Evernote has a Web Clipper that is a great tool to take things off the web and put them straight into your Evernote. I use this constantly. I love the web clipper!!

iWork ’09 Pages is my go-to for creating all documents etc. I have a MacBook Pro and Pages came with it. I love this word processor for all of my writing. I love Pages just because. You can share a Word doc and Pages can convert it quickly and easily.

Logos is my go-to Bible study. There are studies, bibles of all kinds of translations, Greek and Hebrew word studies and so much more.

Team Management
Skype Video Conferencing is what I personally use and recommend if you work in an environment where your fellow staff members have the privilege of not all being in one place, this is a great tool to host meetings. You could also use this to host meetings between you and other ministry leaders or really anyone.

Dropbox is a powerful file sharing solution for your team. Dropbox is a cloud solution for personal and shared folders and files.

Productivity
Trello Task Manager – I use Trello for its simplicity, but there are many other apps out there for task management. Many people recommend Todoist or Asana.

Pomodora Challenge Timer takes the Pomodoro technique and gives you a challenge based app that will help you get more done. Don’t know what the Pomodoro technique is? Read this. For the quick explanation, you’ll focus on one thing for 25 minutes without doing ANYTHING else. I just installed this app and am excited to see what it does for my productivity.

IFTTT is a very powerful automation tool. If This Then That has a lot of pre-made recipes of actions or you can make your own. I haven’t tapped into the depth that many people have, but I use this primarily for automation of my Twitter account. I have identified a number of bloggers who always produce great content. So I automated a recipe that says if they post something it is added to my buffer account that schedules a tweet. More on Buffer below. I also have a recipe that whenever someone uses the #sermonprep on Twitter, they are added to a Twitter list called Preachers. You can subscribe to that list to connect with other preachers.

Social Media
HootSuite is a powerful social media management tool. I use this to manage all of the social media accounts for my church, all of the individual minsitries and my own social media. If you have multiple social media accounts to keep track of, give Hootsuite a try.

Buffer is my favorite social media management tool. Buffer will maximize your scheduling of posts in light of when your followers are most active. A new upgrade they just did now allows their Chrome browser extension to identify pictures within blog posts when you go to share them so you can add the picture to your Tweet which increases engagement.

Personal Growth
Kindle App is available on every device you have and allows you to read great books wherever you are. There’s a great way also to utilize your highlights and add them to Evernote for later use. See this article on how to do so.

Podcast Republic is my podcasting app of choice. I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 so, in other words, I don’t have an iPhone. If you are an iPhone user, you should have the Podcast app on your device already. Podcast Republic gives you access to the entire iTunes library and allows you to subscribe to podcasts, see the show notes, and much more.

Feedly is the way I keep up with all the blogs I follow. It is an RSS reader where you can upload as many blog feeds as your heart desires. You can read and share blog posts without ever having to leave feedly. I also use IFTTT recipe’s with this.

YouVersion is my Bible reading app of choice along with millions of others. It offers a great number of reading plans. You can connect with friends on the app and see what they are reading as well.

Tools Are Only Tools
What you do with them is what counts.

What tools do you use that weren’t included in my list above? I’d love to hear from you and update this post with your add-ons. Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

Changes to Maximize Your Productivity

Serving as an XP at my church and serving as one of our Central Region Open Bible coaches, coaching for Kidology as well, provides me a unique look into several working environments. One common thread that is desired by all in the working environments that I get to look into is Productivity. Everyone wants to squeeze more out fo the time they have!!

I want to offer some quick recommendations.

Use the Eisenhower matrix to rank tasks.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a master of organization and prioritization. During World War II he was the supreme commander of allied forces, overseeing the European theater of operations. From 1953 to 1961 he served as the 34th president of the United States.

During his long career, Eisenhower developed a prioritization framework that is used by many. The Eisenhower Matrix uses a four-box matrix to help anyone prioritize his or her day. On the X axis are the columns “urgent” and “not urgent” and on the Y-axis are the rows “not important” and “important.”

Anything that is urgent and important should be done. If the project is not urgent but important it should be planned for a later date. If work is urgent but not important it should be delegated to someone else. And if it is neither important nor urgent, it should be eliminated.

Start your day with the hardest tasks, complete the easiest tasks at the end of the day.

In his book The McKinsey Edge former McKinsey analyst, Hattori, discusses a time management strategy that he learned while working on demanding projects for Fortune 100 clients.
He suggests that most people are sharpest in the early morning hours. Therefore, Hattori learned to stack his days at the start of his day with the most mentally demanding tasks.
As the day progresses, Hattori organized tasks to becoming increasingly easy. It was only late at night that Hattori would check his email inbox to answer questions that required relatively little thought. I have gone to check my email only 2x a day where each one falls in one of my 4 routine times I have set up on my daily schedule (I have 4 routines every day, Morning routine, the start of the workday routine, workday shut down, and lastly evening routine. More on these in a later post).
In my view, I have given you the top 2 ways to start maximizing your productivity. My best advice is to get to work early and then tackle the most challenging items first.
More Productivity ideas coming soon on living on a calendar.
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