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Tools, systems, and ideas that aid me in a productive day

computer and coffee

Over time, I have developed some systems and ideas of how to have a productive day. The discovery of some great productivity tools as well.

Start the night before.

My wife has tried to work with our 5-year-old on this lesson as well. Whenever our 5-year-old does this her next morning is great for her and the rest of the house. The same is true for us. If you start the night before with setting out your clothes and going over the calendar.

* Then schedule your big items in your most productive time of the day. I use to use my mornings which are my most productive time of the day, for meetings, computer work etc. By time my energy was gone then I was in the early afternoon, my least productive time, trying to do big items. Poor idea!

* Get a good night of sleep. The new iOS 9.3 has a new setting to control the brightness of your screen. This new setting is so your iPhone brightness wont keep your mind too alert at the times it should not be.

* Turn off your notifications. I can’t tell you how many times a notification has interrupted a coaching call of mine. I’m coaching someone and their attention leaves our conversation to look at an alert. Same is true when you’re prepping your next day. It is always going to be an interruption in your attention.

Now for some tools that I enjoy. I am going to leave out the ones that all should use and know about by now. Some of those would be Evernote, Dropbox, Google,

* Trello. Here is a tool that keeps me plugged in with all my many teams and their projects.

* IFTT. IFTTT, standing for If This Then That. You craft “recipes” that allow for various apps and services to connect together. I can create an IFTTT recipe that automatically uploads my Instagram photos to my Google Drive account. Create awesome integration with zero programming experience! If you can think it, you can IFTTT it.

* Rescue Time. Rescue Time will track what programs and websites you spend the most time on. Showing what hours are your least/most productive. along with your best and worst days of the week (and month).

* Unroll.Me. This tool will help hide email clutter. It will list out all your email subscriptions. Use the Unroll.Me unsubscribe option to kick some of those suffocating newsletters to the curb.

* StayFocused. A free Chrome extension that restricts the amount of time you can spend on “time-wasting websites”. The tool is customizable. You choose which websites (or specific pages) to block, how long to block them for, etc.

* Here is an add-on that was not posted with this post originally but I was reminded of the importance of this app when I woke up. I woke up and was told of the status of deliveries, birthdays of friends coming up, some duplicates that made it into my contacts along with some new contact info that it picked up from some emails that were sent to me. Then it soon reminded me of some emails that still needed to be responded to, and ave me a pick into my Instagrams top pics.

Don’t hold back your better process for reading

iphone and coffee cup fuzzy 633x422

Let’s focus on improving the reading that we do. My goal each year is to read around 100 books. But the bigger goal is not the number, but, to learn and keep the great nuggets from those books.

Rudi Guliani wrote in his in his book, “Leadership”, that “great leaders lead by ideas”. I have experienced how great ideas from books have helped me develop my leadership over the years. Books are an accumulation of years of life lessons gleaned from the author. Those years are conveniently bound in each book for the use of developing others who will have a systematic process to harvest the nuggets.

That is what I want to lay out today for you, my process for book nugget harvesting. This is not the only way, it is only, my way.

To read and digest a book I now use the following process:

Book Selection

When selecting a book it’s important to remember the impact that a book can have on your life. It’s necessary to choose the books you read wisely. The books you read must be worth the investment of your time and energy. Some of the criteria I use when selecting a book to invest my time and energy in are:

• First, based upon what do I need to learn or develop, given where I am in my personal journey.

• I select books from authors that have already affected my life and I connect with. Authors like, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Carey Nieuwhof, Posner and Kouzes, etc.

• Books that will help me grow in areas critical to my role.

• Using Goodreads and Amazon for recommendations from friends.

• Key subject areas I’m interested in. Some would be, leadership, communication, task management, technology, and strategy. I do not read books just because they are popular or make the bestseller lists. My time is valuable and so reading a book is an investment of my time from which I expect a return!

Prepared Environment

The best productive reading environment for me happens when:

• I remove all distractions!! Humans cannot multitask. Multitasking is worse than a lie.

• Have a regular place to read. I enjoy what Steve from Blues Clues does, he has a “Thinking Chair” that he uses.

Keep in mind your primary purpose for reading, to grow and learn. This requires focus and concentration.

Be an active reader

Being an active reader you need to engage with the book. Better to read a book in many short sessions, and not in a single sitting. Other ways to be an active reader:

• Use a highlighter, or a pen to underline.

• Using a pen or pencil to make notes in the margin.

• Use Evernote to take notes and pictures of marked up pages.

Actively reading keeps you focused and helps find important concepts for use later on. If I find myself not making several notes or highlighting, it usually means, at least for me, that the book is not worth completing and I put it aside.

There is part one of my process. I’ll post the rest of my process later, but, I’m very interested in hearing if you have a process, what is it?

Do you see how important it is to set yourself up wisely for the best reading experience? Don’t hold back creating a process for better reading for yourself.

How to set goals isn’t as bad as you think

Goal setting

January has already come and gone. The year is again progressing quicker than seems possible. This quickness is the reason it is so important that we set goals for what you want to carry out. What follows will be ways that I follow when I set goals.

Start with the end in mind.
I think it is important to start with your end picture of what you want and where you are going. Once I have the end picture, I start just 5 years out. Then I move my picture to 3 years out, then 1 year out and lastly 3 months out.

Be realistic.
Be ambitious because it is a goal after all but still realistic. If you are a ministry of 30 kids or youth and set your goal to be 300 in a year, that is not realistic. Being realistic helps you during the journey to stay encouraged and fight that discouragement off that happens so easily during life and ministry.

Re-evaluate and revisit.
Just because you set your goals in January, doesn’t mean that 5-6 months down the road you won’t be swamped with life and ministry. Knowing this, I put a date in the calendar 5-6 months down the road to alert me to re-evaluate how am I doing with the goals that I wanted to carry out. I will revisit each goal to see that it is still as important to me as it was once before when I set it as a goal.

With these 3 simple steps, setting goals is not as bad as you thought. Allow me to recommend a book titled: Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I recommend this book as you prepare to set your goals is because too often people set way too many goals and never fully reach any of them but instead have a ton of half started goals.

Setting goals can be as easy as 1,2,3.

Start to finish, implementation ideas to unpack part 2

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This post idea started over here first. Go and read this post first then come back and finish this one.

Decide on the right tempo/speed or frequency.

Once volunteers are in place, it’s important to know where you want to take your volunteers. What does that look like? How often will you need to meet? How long? The key is figuring out the speed/frequency that fits you and your churches culture.

Specific examples of speed and culture.

Here at my church I am noticing that Sundays after the last service are good times for tribes of people within Take TWO Family ministries to meet because they’re already used to having a full Sunday and prefer to stay and carry out a meeting than have to come at any other time during the week.

Helpful Content

Good volunteers are always hungry for content that will help them have a greater impact in their role. They are not, however, open to giving up their time for something that seems like a waste. Helpful content is required to develop volunteers and make them want to attend training events. I enjoy recording some of my groups to use as a teaching tool with them.

Easy to Attend

Training events need to be as easy to attend as possible. You can’t appease everyone, but you can do a number of things to take away excuses people have for not attending training events.

Can’t Miss Culture

The best way to have strong participation in volunteer training is to make the events themselves have a “can’t miss” feel to them. What can you do to make those who attend feel glad they did and want to come next time?

Be on the lookout for more post along this line as I unfold these some more.
I would love to hear what you do?
What do you find successful?

Live Scribe Pen Saves So Much Time


Electronic data is my preferred way of communicating and filing. I will discuss my ScanSnap scanner that I use as well in a later post, today I want to quickly talk about my Live Scribe WiFi pen.

Several people who I know tell me often:
1. They would love to be more electronic, but they can’t stop using paper because of the familiarity.

2. I hear many talk about filling notebooks of notes from going to conferences and the info dying right there.

3. Meetings where laptops are not welcomed and so their productivity is slowed down dramatically.

4. Holding stand up meetings is difficult when you’re trying to balance your laptop on your hand.

5. Finally taking decent notes but no matter how good they may be, always missing some key fact that they can’t remember what was discussed.

The list can and does go on and on.

My solution that I have truly enjoyed is found in my Livescribe WiFi Pen.

All my notes and the audio of everything around me is recorded as I sit there with my pen. The other great fact is that all the time it is syncing with my Evernote account so everything gets filed into my electronic brain, both through text and audio. To reclaim it I can go into my Evernote folder and search for a keyword or phrase, or if I know where the note is I can click on it directly in Evernote and see the notes and/or hear the audio.

The other option is to also play it back directly from my pen by clicking the note in my notebook with my pen and hearing the audio.

Next time you head out to a conference, stand up meeting, or a variety of other options, make sure you grab your Livescribe pen.

Success or Failure doesn’t just appear, it’s a process.

My Calendar picture

Planning, determination, strategizing, disciplined, and a slew of other words like these may scare some people. Add in the word “Daily” and the fear factor goes up. But it is just that, “daily” you need to make decisions that will chip away obstacles and help you to reach what you are going after.

It is a firm belief of mine that the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. If you make a few key decisions and then manage them well in your daily agenda, you will succeed. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. You see, success, doesn’t just suddenly occur one day in someone’s life, neither does failure. Each is a process. Every day of your life is preparation for the next. What you are becoming is the result of what you do daily. In other words… You are preparing for something. Look at how you invest your days and you can tell what you are preparing for, knowingly or un-knowingly.

My question for you would be:
1. What are you preparing for?
2. Grooming yourself for success or failure?

I have heard it said several times, “You can pay now, and play later, or you can play now and pay later. But either way, you are going to pay.” The idea was that you can play and take it easy and do what you want today, but if you do, your life will be harder later. However, if you work hard now, on the front end, then you will reap rewards in the future.

Let me Challenge you to think: Does your daily agenda show that you make a habit of paying before you play? If not, it is not too late to change your daily habits or agenda. To start allow me to suggest a couple daily decisions to make sure you do.
1. Spend time in the God’s Word
2. Spend time worshiping and talking to God
3. Spend time with your spouse. Your spouse and God will be the ones to have your back when all else seems to be against you.
4. Make everything an appointment on your calendar. If it doesn’t make it to your calendar, then you don’t do it.

There is a quick start. Now add to it.

Nuggets taken from Seeds Conference prt.1

Screenshot 2015-03-12 10.23.23

I am getting the opportunity to attend the Seeds conference via a Stream Pass thanks to the wonderful technology we have today and a great church of mine that allows me to do just this.

When you settle “your calling” that poison of bitterness and restlessness will be released

“If your pastor was everything you wanted him to be, he still wouldn’t be enough for you.”

You might be in the place you are because it’s not about God changing your leader but God changing YOU.

When you see yourself connected to something bigger than yourself, you’re more generous. Give more. Serve more. Honor more.

Develop a “habit” of being thankful!!!

Spend time daily “thanking” GOD for your Leadership, lean into thankfulness.

An isolated life sees what you’ve done… A thankful life sees what’s bigger than you!

Thankfulness is ALL about being connected. Realizing that something you have didn’t come from you. (via @whitneygeorge)

“The devil didn’t think I was too young to learn stuff, but the church did.” @Willie_George

“The people you admire aren’t necessarily more talented than you. They’re just more disciplined than you.” @whitneygeorge

“We often want the gold but we don’t want the process to get there” @whitneygeorge

Your generosity will change / increase when you stop seeing yourself as the source.

Create experiences that people want to repeat. @whitneygeorge

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