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My Process for reading and digesting books part 2

If this post is of interest to you click over to part 1 and read first.

Now that you have read my selection process lets continue with what I do while I read.

I am what you may call an “active reader”. To read actively you need to engage with the book, to do this its usually better to read a book in numerous short sessions, ranging from one to two hours, rather than in a single sitting. Question and extend what the author has to say. You are likely to know something the author didn’t when he wrote that. Many books I am reading now have “stood the test of time” so they have been around for 10+ years, so some things have been superseded by new technology and techniques. Look for them and fix them. Sometimes I argue with a book and I write a note about why I do. Sometimes I put in notes to google a subject for more depth later.

Get in there and wrestle with the book, that is what being an active reader is all about.

Some suggestions for highlighting important ideas and principles as you read, include:
* Use a highlighter.
* Use coloured pencils, this allows you to colour-code your highlights.
* Use a pen or pencil to make notes in the margin. If reading an ebook this is what i like about reading on my iPad through my kindle app. It allows me to make notes and they store in my Amazon account which people may follow or share notes in.
* Indicate why the highlight was made, using the following notation:
? = Research this further
” ” = Quote
! = Technique, process or new way to integrate into my work or life
www = web site to look up

These are just a couple of mine, which ones do you use?

If you find that little in what you’re reading impacts you, it usually means, at least for me, that the book is not worth completing and I put it aside.

My process for reading and digesting books

I am known as a large consumer of books. I posted a blog post titled How my iPad has helped me read more where I share how I have been able to go from reading 80 books a year to 105 books a year. Since this post many have emailed me along with several of my coaching students asking how do I select and process all the info that I take in through books?

Great question and here is my response to this question.

Book Selection Process.

When selecting a book it’s important to remember that the impact that a book has on your life is greatly affected by the current season of your life and where you are in your personal journey. I do have a reading agenda that I create and for the most part I stick to it with the minor exceptions of adding another book or two to the list. I have written out guidelines of how one book may replace another or the new book must be added as an extra book read at an additional time.

Some of the criteria I use when selecting a book to invest my time and energy in are:

– I select a book 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 previously affected my life and with whom I connect. For me some of these are authors like Jim Collins, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Peter Drucker, and Posner and Kouzes, etc.

– I select books that will help me grow in areas critical to my role as a children’s pastor, leader, parent, spouse.

– I read books recommended to me by people I trust and respect. I keep an ongoing list in Evernote which I will add to when I get another recommendation.

– I do not read books just because they are popular or make the bestseller lists. When I select a book to read I select them with an understanding that this is an investment of my time from which I expect a return!

I will continue my process in future post.

Playing it SMART is what separates those who do from those who want to

As each one of my coaching students will tell you, I truly believe in living S.M.A.R.T. This is not something that I created (this honor goes to The first known uses of the term back in November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran) but a process that I believe completely in.

Here is a basic list of steps I work through to make sure that I hit my targets and that they don’t just stay good intentions. There are some extra things in here but the basis of these steps are all S.M.A.R.T.

1. Identify and write down goals?
2. List the benefits? What will I gain by reaching this goal — what’s in it for me? Concentrate on your benefits, not the problems that might be there.
3. Identify obstacles which may need to be overcome in order to reach each one of those goals. You see, if there were no obstacles, you’d already have everything you wanted.
4. Identify the skills and knowledge required to reach each one of these goals.
5. Who are the people, the groups, the companies and organizations you need to work with in order to get there?
6. You need to develop a specific plan of action to reach this goal. Too many people go to work every day without a specific goal. They live their lives without specific goals; that’s why this is so important.
7. The last step: Set the date you want to reach that goal.

Now after reading this maybe there are ways you too can find to live a little S.M.A.R.Ter?

Productive Morning routines part 2

I started this blog topic with part 1 titled Pace Setting Morning Routines and hope you found that profitable. Now to continue my routine with hopes not that you copy my routine, but that you will find ar own productive morning routine.

So far in my morning routine I have already mentioned and given the est amount of time I invest in each of these over in part one:
Checking weather, making coffee, gathering my water, mind dumping, Bible reading, and praying. Thats all in part one which you can read again over here.

Now to continue on with my morning routine.
– 10 minutes I go in and journal in the Day One app I had already mentioned in part one of my morning routine. I will journal over what I have read, ideas I want to work on, projects, just about anything as this time is very unstructured on purpose.

– 5 minutes. I will check again my day which I had set up the night before with my hit list of 5 items that are must do’s in my opinion for that day. I keep these in an app called irunurun. This app also allows me to set up an accountability team which can see my progress or lack of. This is a great motivator to keep moving forward on my Hit list.

– 30 minutes. I go in and read blogs, e-newspapers etc on my iPad with the app of Flipboard. Another app I use is Zite. Now if I can not get through all the reading set out for me during this time I also have set to read these sources again at the end of the night as well.

Now with my morning routine it is around 7:15am (this is when you combine what I blogged in part 1 and with this post as well) and I get the privilege of watching some kids from church for 1 hour which my wife and I split in time. I take the first 30 minutes while my wife gets ready for the day and my wife takes the last 30 minutes while I get ready for the day. All the while during this hour we are helping our own kids get ready for the day as well. I will walk the kids we are watching to the bus stop.

– 10 minutes. I listen to a podcast on leadership, children’s ministry etc. while waiting at the bus stop with the kids.

– 15 minutes. I will eat breakfast with my wife and youngest daughter when I get back from the bus stop.

There you go. That is the basic overview of my morning routine before starting work. Yes there are days when this takes a few changes, but I will always come back to this as soon as I can. I like this routine because of the results it produces for me, which is the only reason I live this routine.

What is your routine? Is it accomplishing what you want it to do?

Pace Setting Morning Routine

Being a firm believer in the power of having a strategic morning routine, 5am is probably my most favorite time to truly get up and start the day. Anyone can have a strategic and purposeful start regardless of when you may call “The start of your day”.

My basic morning routine looks like this:
– First 10 minutes of being up I like to check the weather and make my coffee. Not sure where this started or why but it has really become part of the start of my day for years now. I also think it allows my brain to begin to start as well.

– 10 minutes pour my coffee, my 32 oz mug of water and lastly gather my iPad.

– 10 minutes. I then will sit in a certain spot that I do not normally sit in during the normal working of my day. I think it makes me feel that I am some place “special”. I will then open up YouVersion Bible app on my iPad. Before I start reading though I also have Day One app opened on my iPad where I start to write all the thoughts that enter my mind. I don’t try to make sense of them at this time I just really type them all up as they enter my brain. Once I am done with that and the thoughts are pretty much done, then I start to read my Bible on YouVersion app.

– 30 minutes. Read my Bible. I follow some type of Bible reading system that YouVersion provides. They have several and I always just pick 1 or 2 to go through every year. I like to read one plan in one translation of the Bible and the other plan in another translation of the Bible. This piece and the following piece of prayer can often times take longer than described here depending on if the felt need is there to continue. Picture this, during this time and the next step of prayer I am spending it with the creator of all, what a privilege.

– 30-45 minutes. Pray. I hand my whole day over to God as I pray over event by event on my calendar for that day, that week and an overview of the year. I also have certain things topics that I specifically pray over on certain days. Example: On Mondays I pray over my coaching students by name, surrounding area churches and children’s pastors, and for Kidology. Everyday through the week there are topics like these that I enjoy praying for to make sure all my specific interest are covered through the week.

There is the first 1 1/2 hours of my strategic morning prep. I will discuss the rest in my next post.

Cleaning House and Making Some Productivity Adjustments


I want to share two things that I have recently done that has truly made a huge impact into my productivity and personal sanity.

Cleaned out blog reader.
I was following 500+ blogs or at lease had that many clogging up my feeder. So I decided to go through them and ask myself how much if any has each one of them contributed to my development? Spiritual, Ministry, Personal, Leadership etc? If I did not have a great answer for any one of them, then I cut it.

I am glad to report that I am now down to just a little over 300 and feel I want that to go down more still. For some reason for me I feel if I can trim this reading list to around 100, that will be my sweet spot.

Slowed down email being retrieved.
I have known for a long time to turn off all my email alerts, banners on my iPhone etc to help me stay focused and productive. But just today, I have had the guts to set my retrieved rate from all the time to only coming in every 2 hours. That’s right, I am allowing technology again to work for me and retrieve my email from all my accounts every 2 hours and that is it.

So in my day, I am scheduling that time as the time I get to stand up and walk around while answering emails. It does the body good to have that break and get some movement on. I am also seeing that getting the emails that often is not hurting me or anyone else. And for those of you who think that by sending me an email that tells me I need to look at it right away and get back with you, I am. Ot moved to action that way. I have decided that outside of my wife and my Pastor, I don’t need to be rushed by anyone else’s schedule or time limits.

There you go, those are the 2 adjustments I have made that are already. Paying off huge for me. What adjustments have you made that are contributing to more effectiveness in your day?

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