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Remote office not required book review

remote_front-530x800

When this book Remote arrived in the mail I was excited to start to read it as I already had respect and enjoyed 37 signals as a company. Now after reading the book allow me to say this book did not add to my respect for a great company.

Let me say that I am one who already enjoys working remotely for my main job of being a Children/Family Life Pastor, where a ton of my volunteers live all over the city and hold several different work schedules so having the ability of working on the go comes in very handy. Also, I get the privilege of working for a completely online business called Kidology.org as a Ministry Coach, and as one of their Kidmin Pros. Seeing that such a large amount of my time is remote, getting the opportunity to read a book titled Remote I was excited. Then soon let down.

Remote is a book that had a ton of potential but unfortunately according to this reader feel short. Through the book I kept feeling like they would start a topic that I wanted them to go deeper on but we never seemed to go there. I know they wanted to make a book that anyone could pick up but that didn’t mean we had to stay at the extreme surface level that the book stayed at.

Basically, if you are looking for a book to show your boss who is very office bound in their thinking and working remotely is a foreign concept, this may be the book for you. If you are wanting anything more, then I would not think this book would be your best choice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging For Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What I learned when I dropped and broke my iPhone

cracked iphone

The expression, “It’s starting to be one of those Mondays” took on a new reality for me this morning.

Walking out the door this morning when my backpack hit my hand which was loosely holding my iPhone 5s. When the two of them made contact it was my phone that lost as it left my hand and dropped to the bottom of our concrete front porch stairs. The whole front glass section of the phone was completely busted up. The silver lining of this could be that we had Apple care plus so the fixing of the phone cost $79.00 and some unscheduled time to get it fixed.

While it was getting fixed, the whole 3 hours, it truly became clear how much and often I truly do use my phone. Here are some ways that in just those 3 hours I went to use my phone.

1. email of course. I went to send email and check my email. I am even embarrassed to admit that while I was in the apple store handing my phone over, the guy helping me told me how they would send a receipt to my email. You guessed it, I went to try to check my email on my phone that I no longer had with me.

2. Evernote was the other tool I was going to use on my phone. I wanted to take a picture of a logo that I saw and at another time wanted to do a voice recording note.

3. Starbucks app. I wanted to go get some coffee and reached for my phone to check my balance on the app when I remembered my phone was broken.

4. Calendar. Was completely lost without my calendar. Glad today was a Monday and is a little more relaxed than if this happened on another day.

5. Amazon book reader. As my wife was driving I usually will work on my iPhone or will get caught up on my reading or book review list. Not this time.

6. Clock. This was attempted more times than I will admit to, because it is very embarrassing how many times I check for my phone to see the time.

7. Trello. Every time I wanted to add to my to-do list or assign a project for a team member I would reach for my phone and come up disappointed every time.

8. EasilyDo. Trying to stay connected with all of my friends and their birthdays etc I love using EasilyDo. In this time block of my phone being down, so was my connecting with friends and wishing them a happy birthday.

9. YNAB. YNAB has been one of those apps that has benefited my family so much because we keep track of our spending and know what we have budgeted while maintaining real time updates for my wife and I. This app has been the single most beneficial tool to help us stop living pay check to paycheck. Every time we would spend something I had to hold onto the receipt for that moment that my phone would be back or I was around a computer to log into YNAB and record them.

10. Bible. I wanted to look up a reference that someone was making that was in the Bible but as we know by now, I did not have my phone which meant I did not have my Bible on hand.

11. Lastly, I did try to make a couple calls, it is a phone still as well I guess.

Isn’t it amazing how much our phones are used in such a short amount of time?
I have read on Tech2 the average person checks their smart phone 150 times a day.

How would you have been found trying to use your phone over the past 3 hours?

Do you have 1 single tool that you use more than your smart phone? If so what is it?

Asana and other great tech tools for Children’s Ministry

admin asst

Now that I have made a move after years at a 5-6000 member ministry to one that is only 400-ish (isn’t God funny with the paths that He will take us) I am needing to learn some new skills. One of those is seeking out some tech goodies that will help me still get the results of having a large paid team.

Today, we will hit on a couple of tech goodies that I am finding to be helpful in getting the results I need while not having the paid admin team around me. In a medium size church we are still at the point where the children’s pastor can fall under the one who is expected to do it all and seeing that usually there are not as many formal ways of communication or the systems are not set up for great follow-up things fall through the cracks.

Welcome – Asana and/or Trello

Asana provides the accountability your team needs to move forward and do your best work without having to be tied to email. Asana offers a great way to collect your task that only you need to work on or it can assign a task to a team member or members that you choose. You can assign due dates and as people work on it if there is any correspondence it will keep all of it in that area so everyone on that project can see the conversation taking place or it can made private. You can set up a daily email to be sent to you for updates on every project and so much more. Watch some more about Asana.

Trello is a different feel than Asana. Trello is simple on the surface, but cards have everything you need to get stuff done. Post comments for instant feedback. Upload files from your computer, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive. Add checklists, labels, due dates, and more. Notifications make sure you always know when important stuff happens.

Here are 2 more tools I urge you to check out that I’m not going into detail with but use as part of this process for myself.

EasilyDo

Refresh

With any of these tools it should help you have that feel of having a full-time team while you are at a small to mid size church. Don’t allow the size of your church now to effect your productivity for the Kingdom.

Furthering productivity through iPhone apps.

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If as though my iPhone 5s was not already one of my main productivity tools, now I stumble upon these new apps which has just raised the bar for me. The iPhone has quickly become a main tool for me in my productivity since I got my mophie rechargeable case and my new gold 64gb iPhone.

Here’s the new apps I stumbled upon that may prove helpful for you as well.

Socialradio. Here is an app that will read your tweets to you and even play background music for you. I have set this app to read certain groups/list to me while I drive. It also allows me to retweet once it reads a tweet that I want to retweet.

Songza. This app will help pick the music for the mood you are in. You can also just pick songs or genres that you want to listen to. I enjoy sung this app while writing blog post like this one or creating new curriculum, messages and more.

News360. This is one app I use to draw in from several places news feeds that the app allows me to choose from.

Theres a few apps that I have recently added to my iPhone. What others would you add that have proven themselves to be useful toward your productivity?

True mobility in Children’s Ministry

Ever noticed how truly mobile and productive someone can actually be with just an iPhone?

I have apps that capture business cards into my contacts. Apps connect me with my children’s schools, translations and Bible resources, help me as a parent and children’s pastor to continue the lesson beyond Sunday, check in kids, print remotely, run video team mtgs, create video announcements and more.

What do you use to help you reach kids and run your ministry while being mobile?

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Tools for a better children’s ministry-Capture, Execute, Organize

Child looking at camera. Stop signal with his hand.  Boy trying

Stop here and read these earlier post (if you have not followed already) before you continue reading this. Capture, and Execute.

Now for today and the last one in this series that I am going to do.

My last tool that I use to help create a work smooth flow which in return helps me be more creative, deliberate, organized, purposeful, impactful, and successful in my ministry is Workflowy.

How does this work for me?

As you have read now in my earlier post I use Evernote to capture everything. I use it with clipping web sites and articles, to taking photos with my phone, and even using the Evernote voice recorder on my iPad. Once I have everything captured through my whole day, weeks, months and yes even years, I constantly use the search filter that is extremely great to dig out nuggets that I want to personally do, think about, work on with my teams, write about etc.. I add these nuggets to Trello boards. This allows me to share, keep track of progress, delegate, record, create to-do list, check list and so much more.

Then there is my private side of productivity. I want items not all lumped into Evernote to be brought out but I am not wanting to work on them in groups or with anyone else. Yes Trello can keep these type of things separate and private but Workflowy gives a different view of my list that go in. And the great additional piece that I like about Workflowy that Trell does not have for me, my daily or weekly email of my Workflowy. Yes I like to get that email as a reminder of what is still on the list. This email is like my comfort food of mashed potatoes, or pizza. It is not really any better than other foods I enjoy eating, it just serves personally a different felt purpose.

There you are my 3 steps and the tools I use to bring about the results that God has allowed me to enjoy in children’s ministry over the last 20+ years.

What is your system to stay creative, sharp, relevant, successful in your children’s ministry?

Better Children’s Ministries go beyond capture to execution

Yesterday I spent talking about how important it is to have a method of capturing everything from ideas, resources, talks, pictures and more. Today I want to continue this direction in once everything is captured how do you use it? To just have these resources will not benefit you unless you have a practical way of moving them into execution.

There are 2 tools that I use to help move things from the capture to execution. The first one I want to talk about briefly here is Trello. Trello for me is used with people, my team, volunteers, and leaders. I spend a little time every Monday going through Evernote and moving some items from there to Trello. These items are the agenda that I want to carry out with teams of people to an personal secretary, bottom line, want to carry out with others. This tool for me use to Omnifocus. The disadvantage of Omnifocus is it cost and for teams to work together everyone has to pay. Trello on the other hand is free. this is what has brought me back to Trello.

Trello allows me to take my behind the curtain catch-all (Evernote) and bring some of it public. Invite as many people as you want to a board. Board members can all add cards, make changes, upload attachments, and more. Changes made by others seem instantaneously on your screen. You never have to wait for a page to reload to see the latest. Email notifications and an activity log keep you informed of the latest changes. You can also subscribe to specific cards to get timely information on what you care about the most. Trello keeps a record of everything that’s happened on the card: comments, changes, additions. You’ll never wonder “How did that happen?” again.

Lastly about Trello, there is an app for your phone and for your computer. This way no matter if you are sitting at your laptop or even more mobile by your phone, Trello is ready to keep you productive.

Next we will spend some time discussing my last tool, Workflowy.

What methods do you have established to bring your great ideas and resources to execution?

Better Children’s Ministry, Capture Everything

evernote

Think about this title a little before you may discount it.

Having a better children’s ministry means what to you?
– More volunteers?
– More finances?
– Better technology/toys?
– Better facilities?
– More commitment from people?
– More time?

What do you need that will give you a better children’s ministry than you have now? I want to suggest that it will involve ideas, or resources that you have already captured and need to carry out or it will be ones that are still to be captured for use in your children’s ministry improvement.

This is why I think it is wisdom to decide what is your system for capturing ideas, resources etc..

I use Evernote to capture everything. I scan everything into Evernote, voice notes, web pages clipped, pictures, you name it, I will send it to Evernote. This makes it easy for me to retrieve anything I need to.

I need more volunteers? I go to Evernote and pull everything I have ever captured about getting volunteers, how to recruit, treat volunteers, structure of volunteers etc.

I need more resources/finances for my children’s ministry? I go to Evernote and pull up everything that has been captured on getting resources, structuring ministry for best use of finances, info graphic pictures, and more.

So there you go. You want a Better Children’s Ministry? Create a great process for capturing everything. So no great resource ever gets lost or forgotten. I again suggest Evernote to be that capturing tool.

A conference call in real life – Funny

Spend a lot of time in meetings will drive anyone a little stir crazy over time. Taking part in on-line conference calls is something that is becoming more popular with a lot of people, myself included.

Conference calls if done properly can be extremely beneficial. To name a few reasons they eliminate the travel, a lot of the trouble trying to match calendars with those who need to be part of the meeting (A growing number of those who can attend due to their expertise are coming from a wider geographic area because of the technology of conference calls), hotel cost, and simply the convenience of conference calling.

Conference calls also have their challenges due to the people using conference calls, the lack of familiarity and comfort of using technology, plus the limitations that come from the different quality of internet speeds that people subscribe to.

Here is a funny video show casing the challenges. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

I still prefer to use conference calls and live online collaboration.

What do you think about this form of meeting?

Do you use it? If so what do you use and how helpful is it?

Top iPad apps going into 2014

Using a tablet computer

I have enjoyed the use of iPads since I bought the first version all the way to my iPad mini which is my default iPad now.

You can read some of the post I made about apps that I enjoyed by reading my post at: Scanner Pro; Top apps 5/16/11; 11 Favorite iPad apps going into 2011

So there are some quick links into apps from past post and now let me look into the apps that are new or still on my iPad as we go into 2014.

Let me start by saying the apps I will list with links will not include some of my apps that have always been part of my app picks since day one like: Facebook, Flipboard, HootSuite, My Bank of America app, Dropbox, Kindle, 1Password or Skype. The following are apps that are becoming part of my regular tool belt.

1. WordPress

2. Hopto

3. Notability

4. GoodReader

5. EverClip

6. Pocket

7. YNAB (You Need A Budget)

8. TED

I will stop with these because I am more interested in what you are using and find helpful. Please post in the comments here what you are using, what have made your must haves, what you may be experimenting with even.

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