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Technology

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.

Being Productive NOT for Dummies

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It never stops amazing me when I meet people and ask them how do they stay productive and then to hear for the next 10 minutes of their very complicated methods and systems that they use.

This was the very reason I was an apple user before it was ever cool to be one. I enjoyed their complete all-inclusive “simple” ecosystem. One of the main draws of using Apple products was how well they worked with each other and made it so I didn’t have to go around to a bazillion other places to get what I needed to do what I wanted to. It felt seamless because everything you needed was already built-in; there was no need to download or install anything. It saved time, was easy and uncomplicated. Now I do understand this may not be as true today, which is why I used all past tense in my statements above. I sadly now watch Apple try to become everyone else instead of who they are. I will stop here as this is a whole other blog post rant that I would go on.

Successful task management (the task is used because I strongly believe no one but God can manage time only the task that happens within the time given) is putting into place systems and strategies that enable you to work at your highest capacity without losing sight of your personal identity or your calling in Christ. Here are some ways that help me manage my task and maximize my impact.

Use Technology. I know some of you once you read that you groaned, and started to tune me out. Please wait and finish reading before you do this. Some of you who read this would also be those who are just like those I started this post off describing, the over complicated system type. Hold in there with me and let’s see if we can’t simplify your system a bit.

“Technology is our friend”, go ahead and say it again. It is about finding the right technology tool for you. Below I will list some of the tools I use that you may want to start with and then branch out to find your own. Remember, K.I.S.S. is important here. Keep It Simple Silly.

Trello for group short project management. This is a free tool.

Evernote for all things filling and serves as my electronic brain. This is also free but can cost.

DropBox for my group collaboration projects that will need to be stored long-term. This can be free but cost.

Kindle app. I first buy a book electronically because they are cheaper and I can read them, highlight them and print all of my highlighted stuff off quickly for free. If the book is good enough then I will buy a paper version.

1Password. This does cost but it is well worth it to me as it stores, fills in and secures all passwords everywhere for me.

Unroll.Me is a web service and app that helps me to mark all email as keep, Unsubscribe or add to roll up. This is a free service.

Hootsuite is for all things social for me. It keeps all my accounts in one place for easy posting and reading.

doodle is for all group calendar setting. It allows me to pick some dates and times and then sends to those I’m trying to pick a scheduled appointment with. They will mar all that work for them and then I pick the one that can be attended by most. It then sends an email out telling of the agreed upon date and time. No more back and forth.

Closing, take a look and see how I don’t use a variety of tools for the same function.Try and keep it all very short and sweet. Staying simple is not really simple after all. If we are left to our own ways we will over complicate everything time after time. Now you have taken long enough reading this post, go and be productive.

The Wired Soul book review

the wired soul book cover

Tricia McCary Rhodes, an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary shares the same enjoyment and connection to technology as the rest of us. But she takes the time to investigate the cost we exchange for technology. What are our screens doing to our relationships, brains, and soul? This was a hard reality check for me.

This may have been why the book started off so great for me but felt like it fizzled out through the rest of the book. I started in with some gut check reality stats and as the book progressed for me I ended up in more known type information.

I cracked the book open and within the first 2 chapters I was completely drawn in and excited, not to mention all the new info that I was taking in during these first couple of chapters. I was telling all of my coaching students about the info I was learning and the lessons that I was putting together to teach them as well.

Then it happened, just as I feared. The book should have stopped there. The remaining of the book really was just drawing out my excitement from the first couple of chapters. I still picked up a gem here or there, but it never felt like the same book that I started reading.

Some good stuff did come from my time in this book. I am walking away with the new knowledge from the first couple of chapters but also other lessons. The importance of journaling and how even that writing on paper will slow us down so that we can become aware of the little things that God may be trying to get our attention with. Some simple breathing exercises, and slow reading and the importance of it.

I won’t be giving up my smartphone or laptop anytime soon, but this book has made me reconsider reading more books in print including my Bible.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I need to let you know that Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing.

My ministry day with my iPhone


I still get amazed what we can accomplish today with just our phones. 

Today, I’m going to take us on a brief trip of my day in ministry with just using my iPhone. 

  • Started the day off with using my Bible (YouVersion). 
  • After that I went into my weather app to see what kind of weather I was going to get today. 
  • Easily.Do to check for birthdays and send out text or email cards to them. Also get to see the status of all my packages coming and going. Then get a quick overview of trending Instagram pictures from my friend and the Instagram community. One of the last nice things I enjoy about Easily.Do is it gives me an update of any emails I need to respond to. 
  • Next I move into Trello to check on all my group projects. This handles all my project management. 
  • Throughout the day I am in and out of Evernote. It serves as my electronic brain. 
  • Dropbox is the same with me going in and out all day long as it is my sharing tool with others. 

I am amazed at all that I can and do with my iPhone daily. The apps mentioned are just a couple that I use first thing in the morning. This post would turn into one very long list of I was to mention everything that I use. Even this post was made on my iPhone.

What apps do you find the most valuable to your day? 

Dangerous and Risky and will make you…

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Dangerous and Risky and will make you AWARE!!

There was a show on a few back called, “The Masked Magician”. This show caused a lot of stir in the magician circles because the whole show was a “masked magician” would show the secrets to a lot of tricks. These were not some small pull a silk from what was once my empty hand, but more like cutting a person in half, disappearing from a chained up trunk and more. Tricks that were still being performed and providing the bread and butter for many magicians families.

Through this show, many people began to understand what was a mystery to them at one time. It put on the minds of many who never thought about this stuff before but were now pulled into a new knowledge. The purpose that the masked magician said he wanted to accomplish was only to try to raise the bar of what Magicians would do. He was tired of people doing the same illusions for all these years.

The motive was good, but I’m not sure it was accomplished in the best of ways. The same is true in my opinion when we post well-meaning articles like this one:http://educateempowerkids.org/dangerous-apps/

It is understood that we want parents to be aware of apps out there that may not be the best for kids of different ages. But, we may also have a “masked Magician” type effect taking place as well. Putting titles and info like this one out there in an area that people of all ages read and visit may be doing just the opposite of the intended purpose. Now it may be putting it in front of kids who had no idea of these apps but now are made aware. Then they will go and explore them, just like many did when the secrets were told of illusions being performed.

Is there a better way? Thoughts?

Pocket or Feedly or Evernote. Tools for productivity.

feedly pocket evernote

I have 3 tools that I just completely love using and they fit so well into my productivity system when it comes to absorbing information. Here they are:

1. Pocket. Pocket is my first app that use to snag content and save for later reading. If I’m reading a website or an article online and don’t have time to finish it, then I’ll throw it into Pocket. Save articles, videos, recipes, and web pages you find online or from your favorite apps.

Pocket also has a chrome extension.

2. Next would be my Feedly account. Feedly is blog catcher. I enjoy reading blogs of all kinds of topics. Doing this I have just one tool and that is Feedly. It catches all my subscribed to blogs and holds them until my blog reading day and then I will read and act on, delete, or file.

3. Evernote is where I will file them too. Evernote is my electronic file cabinet. I scan stuff to it, take pictures and send to it, forward emails and subscribe to newsletters while giving them my Evernote email address. Giving this email address out saves my real email from getting cluttered. I will mention one more tool here that I use to keep my email uncluttered and that is called unroll.me. You can record audio with Evernote, do geographic stuff and just a ton of other options as well.

Basically, there is not much that can come my way as far as information and not be able to be handled with one of these 3 tools. Hope they help you if you are not already using them.

Live Scribe Pen Saves So Much Time

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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.

New Family Ministry App A Must See.

take two app screen shot

This may be one of my shortest post only because I can let this great app do all the talking for itself.

It has arrived!!

Take TWO Family Ministry, a ministry that is part of First Church of the Open Bible here in Des Moines, Iowa has had our app go live as of 3/25/15. It has everything from videos, stories, jokes and riddles for kids. For the adults, it has devotions, parenting blogs and more.

A few items that bring me special joy to have as a part of the app is:
1. Invite a friend. If someone clicks on this it generates an email that has a great message and all you need to do is add the email of who you are sending it to and hit send.

2. It has a salvation tract that all anyone needs to do is read it as they show whoever they are witnessing to. Takes the fear out of sharing your faith for some.

3. Puts you contact with all of our social media areas.

So much more. make sure you go now and download it. you get all of this and the more for FREE!

Swipe your way to productivity today.

swipes logo

Time to get busy and get down to knocking out your to-do list. So you run around and collect all the sticky notes on your mirror, your desk, your computer screen and all the other misc. areas. Then you turn to the most recent incredible life changing tool – Evernote. You begin to search through Evernote, or as you call it, your brain online to find all of your to-do list in there as well.

Now you are just plain tired and mentally worn out not to mention you have spent 1 1/2 hours just getting prepped to become productive for the day. Have I got a great solution for you that I started using a few weeks back and it has kept me very fluid and able to stay on the go but keeping my to-do list getting done at the right time.

This tool is called…”Swipes“.

Here is how Swipes works with Evernote. Evernote, by its nature, is a workspace for the way we work today, collecting information from multiple devices and from just about anywhere in the world. Swipes, however, is the task management app that not only stores your tasks, but helps you prioritize them and break-down the important things into doable steps. The blend of Swipes with Evernote gives you the possibility to not only collect the things that matter to you, but act on them. This is a combination of pure productivity joy!!

Stop wasting time looking for ways to be productive and get Swipes and get conquering your to-do list.

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