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coaching

How Chunking made my children’s ministry more effective

Juggler

When life gets busy I need systems and structure to keep on track. In fact putting boundaries in place around different activities allows me to be quite impulsive and creative in those times and not getting stressed because of all the ‘urgent’ things that I need to do.

This is where “Chunking” comes in for me!

Life seems to always be adjusting the definition of busy to include more and more into that definition. What was busy for me last year doesn’t seem to be so busy for me this year. The tasks that were required last year in children’s ministry are not as many that are required later in ministry. This is the way it should be because we should always be growing and taking more territory for God. So here is a quick run down of how I chunk my time.

Chunking is not a new concept by any means and I’m probably not using the terminology correctly – but it’s what I call it. I believe that what gets measured gets done efficiently and effectively. This includes time as well. I started by doing a time journal, as I spend my time I log it down. I keep track of my time over a couple of weeks to be able to see patterns and it helps to end odd items that seem to happen in life. After the couple of weeks of time journaling I then will look to see the natural flows that take place in my life. Here are just a couple of examples: Mondays for example seem to be a day that I naturally spent more time evaluating, doing admin stuff and vision casting. Tuesdays seem to hold more meetings than other days, and more networking took place.

After examining the natural flow of my week it took a little adjusting and discipline to make sure I kept all meetings on Tuesday (there are exceptions but I limit them as much as possible). My Mondays became my evaluation, vision, admin day. I would tuck myself away some where with very little distractions, that means not my office.

All of sudden, instead of multi-tasking my week, it became very focused and was accomplished in large “Chunks” of time. Now that more was able to get accomplished, more focused time was the result of what I could pour into what God called me to do, be a children’s pastor.

Hope this brief overview of Chunking will aid you in being more productive like it has for me over the years.

Top 20 Improvements I’ve Made Due to Kidology Coaching

kidology coaching coaches

Every weekend our churches are filled with those who have the responsibility of ministering to our children, connecting with and resourcing the parents, equipping those who are also responsible to help reach children and the list of responsibilities just goes on and on.

You may call these wonderful gifts to your churches: Children’s pastors, Children’s directors, Kidmin ministers etc.. With the responsibility that these people carry out many churches have figured out that it is wisdom to make sure they are equipped, developed, trained and ready, to carry out all that they are expected to do with excellence. These expectations and responsibilities have evolved beyond what our colleges are preparing leaders for.

It is this group of children’s pastors that I have had the privilege of being part of for 22+ years. For the last 3-4 years I have also had the privilege of formally coaching those in this group.

Here is a top 20 list that Andy Partington, one of these great children’s pastors have put together as he reflected over his last year of coaching with me before he went into our graduate coaching program.

1) I am seen as a pastor and parental help to the families in my
congregation more and a facilitator of children’s programming less.
2) I have put in place a volunteer training schedule that doesn’t burn
out volunteers while still maintaining growth.
3) I use my time intentionally.
4) I integrate Gospel presentations into each ministry setting.
5) My goals are clearly defined and communicated.
6) I know how to appreciate and affirm my team: My team clearly
knows that they are a special part of our ministry.
7) My meetings are awesome: Each meeting has a purpose and flow.
If it didn’t we wouldn’t have it.
8) I know what the acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for and I now live by it.
9) I know that I can manage tasks instead of time.
10) I know how to present good news and bad news to my fellow
staff members.
11) I now have a ministry team instead of a committee.
12) I now work with leaders instead of workers.
13) I know how to have fun with my staff and with the kids that I
minister too.
14) My “bag of tricks” is open to other people in ministry. What I’ve
learned just could help someone else and I’m glad to share.
15) I delegate. I wasn’t designed to do 100% of tasks. There is 20%
out there with my name on it.
16) My ministry is geared to do that one thing that we were meant to do.
17) I know how to help people find their “one thing”.
18) Multiplication isn’t just for grade school math classes. It’s a regular
process in my ministry.
19) I listen to parents.
20) I know how to learn from anyone I come into contact with.

If you would like to enjoy more growth personally and with your ministry I want to invite you to join coaching or a new avenue that many will find useful as well online training for your team. It’s not just your future that depends on it.

Productivity tools, systems and processes

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“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”-–Paul J. Meyer.

I heard this statement that comes from the Economic Policy Institute.

Since the early 1970s, productivity (the amount of output per hour worked) has risen in America. Between 1973 and 2011, productivity of the American worker has grown 80 percent. Why? My opinion, because we’re finding new tools and techniques to increase our focus and efficiency.

Below are some ideas and tools I have discovered over time that people I would say are productive have repeatedly talked about using. I believe I can learn a lot form people and their habits, tools they choose to use, their processes and the reason why they do and use what they do. So in the following I have come to use many of the same and investigating using some others. Some I have substitutions for like the running to clear my mind such as, I mow the yard.

Police Your Own Internet Habits.
Theres a tool called StayFocusd to keep track of how much time you spend on various sites. I have a tendency to begin researching something online for a sermon I am preparing with the very best of intentions and then get lost viewing irrelevant content and wasting way too much time. To limit this, I turn on the browser extension to Chrome of StayFocusd where I keep up a list of sites I can get lost on for hours–YouTube, Ted Talks and Facebook are mine. StayFocusd alerts me after a pre-determined time that I have set up has passed and then blocks the offending sites to help me resist temptation and stay focused on the task at hand. Another tool I will mention before leaving this part is RescueTime which I have a posted previously about. This is a tool worth checking out as well.

Clear Your Mind, Define Your Focus
Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction and principal at The Chatham Group, shared two tips that keep her focused, energized, effective and productive both personally and professionally. “There are two things I do to get the energy, capacity and focus I need to not only be efficient, but effective. Personally, I take 15 minutes every morning for contemplation and to empty my mind. I take a bag full of thoughts I need cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house. Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day,” said Lea, who successfully juggles several roles across various companies including CEO, investor, advisor, mentor and principal.

“Professionally,” Lea added, “I send an email to my team each Monday morning with the top five things I will be focused on for the week. This really keeps me on track and gives me the focus I need. These two things set the pace for me every day, both in my personal and professional life.”

Cut Back On Meetings
Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), said he keeps productive by being diligent about meetings–sticking to the allotted time and only scheduling in-person meetings when it’s absolutely necessary. “I leave meetings at their allotted end time regardless of whether they are finished,” said Komisar, who authored the book, Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. “I do not reschedule an appointment for a more important one unless it is an emergency. If an email will do, I don’t make a call; if a call will do, I don’t have a meeting; if a 30-minute meeting is enough, I don’t schedule an hour.”

All About Evernote
Dylan Tweney, the executive editor at VentureBeat, said Evernote, the popular note-taking and archiving service, is his go-to productivity tool. “I use Evernote to collect everything I might need to save for later, with the exception of emails–Gmail is fine for that. I store all of my important documents–from notes to interviews–in Evernote. I also use Evernote tags as a kind of to-do list: I have a set of tags that I can use to rank things that need to happen immediately or that I’m waiting for someone else to finish: (“1-next,” “2-soon,” “3-later,” “4-someday,” and “5-waiting”). When I get an email that I need to act on but can’t respond to immediately, I send it to my private Evernote address and then rank it,” said Tweney. “Finally, I use Instapaper liberally to save articles that I run across during the day, but don’t have time to read during the busy hours. It sends stories to my Kindle automatically, so I always have something interesting to read on the train ride home or in the evening. That helps keep me focused on work, even when people are sharing fascinating things on Twitter and Facebook all day.”

Get Tunnel Vision
Kevin O’Connor, the serial entrepreneur who founded both DoubleClick and more recently FindTheBest, a data-driven comparison engine, said he makes an effort to focus on only the top few things that really are going to move the needle. “Most people tend to focus on the 100 things they should do, which can be overwhelming and result in the failure to actually accomplishing anything of importance. I try to focus on the three to five things I absolutely have to do. I don’t get distracted by those ninety-seven other unimportant things that don’t ultimately give to my success or the success of my company.”

Get Physical
Patrick Dolan, the EVP and COO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), said what keeps him productive, focused and energized is going for runs in the morning. “I love to run in the morning before I get into work. Running clears my mind, gets the blood flowing and ultimately makes me much more focused and productive. During my morning runs, I try to come up with solutions to any unresolved problems at work, brainstorm new ideas, and really prioritize my work in terms of the top things I want to carry out that day. By the time I get into work, I already have a set of focused priorities, and I also have the energy to make them happen.”

Put Email In Its Place
Anne-Marie Slaugher, a professor of politics and international relations at Princeton University and author of the popular article published last year in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” said basing your work day around the never-ending flow of incoming emails is a huge productivity drain. “My principal productivity tip is that if you are caught up on your email, your priorities are in the wrong place. An extra of hour of email will do very little in the long run, but that hour could be spent reading to your kids before bed, cooking a meal, or taking a walk and clearing your head–all far better choices,” said Slaughter, who previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. “More generally, email puts you in response mode, where you are doing what other people want you to do, and not send mode, where you are deciding what you want to do and taking action.”

There is a balance in Leadership

gardening

Ever since I have moved to our new house in Kansas City, MO, I have truly been into my yard and gardening. While involved in these two relaxing activities for myself it has given me a lot of time to think and a ton of leadership comparisons to roll around in my brain. Here’s one.

Producing a healthy garden it takes the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and care. Too much water or too little of any one ingredient could result in damaging your gardening. Just like the best gardeners learn through experience and reflection what their gardens need to grow and develop, seasoned leaders learn what it takes to help people and organizations achieve their potential. I think they learn how much each of the items listed below need to be done.

— Plan and Execute.

Planning is important, but so is execution. Some leaders over plan and under execute. Of course some leaders do just the opposite. They’re busy having meetings, doing key-note presentations but making no improvements in the operation.

— Task and People

Some leaders are too task-focused. It feels everything is all business. People are used for getting a task done. On the other hand some leaders are too focused on pleasing people at the cost of solving problems and getting the work done.

— Results and Process

Some leaders only focus on results. “What’s the bottom line?” Results are important but so is process—how things are done. The how can often times decide how much results you can get at different sizes of growth. The seasoned leader focuses on both what is being accomplished and how it’s being accomplished.

— Coaching and Letting Go

An important part of a leader’s job is to coach people on how to be more effective and efficient. However, there is an important difference between too little and too much coaching. Too much can frustrate initiative. Seasoned leaders know the difference between providing too much (micro-managing) and too little (not developing your team) coaching.

— Work Life and Family Life

Some leaders get totally consumed by their job and neglect their family. To many jobs have been turned into mistresses.

Summary
Seasoned leaders know finding the right balance doesn’t mean moderation in all things. It means using the right mix of various ingredients to help people grow. Great leaders have the wisdom to know what actions are needed to meet success.

What would you add to this list?

Continued Ideas toward better efficiency

increase-productivity

I started this topic over here with Part 1 of Ideas toward better efficiency. Now to continue toward better efficiency.

I find it helpful to rank my to-do items so that I will spend the most time on the biggest, most important projects and I will schedule them during my strong most productive time. I do talk more about this in part 1.

Some basic questions I ask myself as I prepare for better efficiency:
What’s due today?
What’s due this week?
What’s due next week?

Some further steps I take include:
* I will spend 10-15 minutes each night before bed prioritizing my daily tasks.

* Spend 30-60 minutes on a regular scheduled day that I have determined I am the most productive for planning the next week so I can “hit the ground running” on Monday morning.

* End each day with a clean desk or laptop desktop. A clean desk = work is done.

* Use a tickler file (electronic or paper. My preference is electronic because it goes with me everywhere) to remind you of things you need to do in the week ahead.

* Use categories and rules to automatically sort incoming emails. Another tool that I use which I truly enjoy is Unroll.me.

* Use your email search feature to find emails. If your email client does not have a good search feature then try Gmail, or Mail to suggest just a couple. Sometimes creating a ton of email folders make it harder to find what you want because you may forget what folder you actually put it in.

* Use your weekly completed tasks to create your progress report for evaluation purposes. Every week you want to keep an accomplished to do list for the use of evaluation so you can learn and become more efficient.

* Always ask, “What’s the next step?”

* Reward yourself for doing the things you don’t want to do with a task that you are excited about.

* Keep a MBWA (Management By Walking Around) list in Evernote always, and use that to create a to-do list once a week.

* Balance your work and personal calendars so that you are not trying to do too much. If married, recruit your spouse, share your calendar with your spouse. They will help you stay balanced.

* Write things down so you don’t waste time trying to remember things – and use a system you can trust so that you don’t waste time trying to remember where you wrote things down. This is why I keep everything in Evernote.

There you go. Some ideas and a brief look into my system of trying to be more efficient. What is yours or what would you add to my system.

The Habit of scheduling time to think

time-to-think

This week my family and I are in one of those definite busy times in life and ministry. We are driving everywhere to get our kids to all of their appointments, tackling some big items in ministry, sicknesses hitting different family members which come with doctors visits and more.

It is due to these busy times that I am grateful for the habit I was mentored in, scheduling regular time to get away and think. I learned long ago there are brilliant ideas lingering in everyone’s minds that are just waiting for the opportunity to be released.

One of my favorite John Maxwell books is titled “Thinking for a Change.” That book is one that made an impact on my life as it reinforced the lesson for me to be intentional about my thinking. I know first hand how much more productive and resourceful my mind is when I schedule time to think. And that is one of the keys…“schedule time to think.” I teach all of my coaching students that if it is not on your calendar, it probably will not happen.

Scheduling time to think is a discipline. Disciplines begin with a single decision, that decision leads to a habit and the habit leads to a lifestyle.

Here is my simple process but you will need to find your own.

1. I have a regular time every week that I have scheduled for “thinking”. You have to treat that “thinking appointment” with high priority; otherwise it is amazing what little items can steal that time away.
2. I take my iPad mini and open up Evernote and create a new note. I will use the “record” feature in Evernote so I can ramble quickly and not have to worry about typos etc at that time.
3. I will go to a quiet place outside (this is my preferred place) and at other times Barnes & Noble. It just depends on my goals for the thinking time.
4. I then make sure all notices are turned off, phone is off and then I begin.

It is amazing how many great ideas will come to your mind in a matter of minutes once you get in the right environment and give your mind an opportunity to focus.
Take time to think.

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.

Long distance mentoring

I have had the opportunity of having some incredible mentors through my life. I actually would have to give credit to most any great that I may do today to the mentors God has allowed me to have in my life time.

I have mentors that seem to fall under 1 of 3 categories. I will briefly explain the 3 types and will tackle the long distance mentor today.

1. Mentors that live close. The name of this mentor pretty much says it all. This would be a mentor who lives in the same city, town, etc. One who you can easily and readily set up a time for coffee and go and be mentored.

2. The unbeknown to me mentor. This is the mentor who doesn’t even know they are your mentor. You watch them from afar, you read their books, listen to their podcast, watch them on t.v., listen to their sermons, and other creative ways to reap the goodies that they share.

Then the mentor that we are talking about today…

3. The long distance mentor. This mentoring will take some definite intentionality. Here is a mentoring relationship that I have probably had the most of during my life. But due to this being the main type for me I have developed some ideas and found some tools that aid on making it profitable.

A. Have a cheat sheet ready every time you meet. This will be a document that you record down what you talk about, what the mentor shares with you, resources they may bring up, ideas, anything. You must make sure you review this each time before you meet with them so that you always show that you want to be a good steward of their time with you.

A few tools that I have used and/or using with my long distance mentors would include:

Day One. This is a journal app for my iPad, iPhone and my MacBook Pro. It has a search feature that allows me to enter a word and then it will pull those places that word is used. So in each header, I name it so. Example Mentoring time with _______. Now I want to pull up every time I met with them I would enter their name and WA-la, there they would be.

Evernote. I use this in so many ways I can not even explain without writing a book.

DropBox. Here is an area that my mentor and I can swap materials back and forth. Edit them together, enter items for the other to read before we meet again and for them to be notified when an item has been entered or changed.

Group Skype. I use to use just skype but occasionally in my Kidology Coaching times I pull my students together for a video chat and group skype is the tool I use for them as well as my mentoring time. Whatever you may use, I feel it is the responsibility of the one being mentored to prep in advance with questions to be addressed during the mentoring time.

There’s more, but to keep this from becoming too long I will stop there. What do you use for long distance mentoring?

Letting go of unproductive habits part 2

Lets start today from our series on Letting go of unproductive habits, (you can get part 1 here) with one that I have found to be a biggie with many during my coaching time with some very sharp children’s pastors around the world. It is multitasking. This has been one big lie of how useful it is.

Stop working on multiple tasks at once. You are spreading your focus and effort on too many places at once. Although you might be able to proceed on many fronts at once, it is still a very slow and error-prone way of working.

Instead, when you focus solely on one task, you get all the work done much faster. You can put your mind fully to that task, complete it fully and move to the next task. I will demonstrate this in the following exercise, so please take a piece of paper and a writing instrument and follow along.

Exercise:
The following exercise will help you quickly understand the negative impact in efficiency caused by multitasking.

Step 1

1. Have a timer with a second hand ready. For best results have another person time you.
2. In the first row, re-copy the phrase “Multitasking is Worse Than a Lie.” After copying the entire phrase in the first row, then switch to the second row and write the numbers 1-27.

Like This:
M Multitasking is worse than a lie
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

3. Ready, Set, Go! (After you have completed the last number (27), write down your total time to completion.)

M

1

Time to complete _______________

Step 2

1. Have a timer with a second hand ready again.
2. In the first row, copy the phrase “Multitasking is worse than a lie.” For every letter you write in the “M” row, switch to the second row (labeled “1”) and write the corresponding number.
3. Ready, Set, Go! (After you have completed the last number (27), write down your total time to completion.)

M

1

Time to complete __________________

Compare the time to completion between the first and second pass. Typically, a person will take twice as long to complete this exercise when multitasking (second pass) vs. focusing on one task at a time (first pass).

Make sense? Then leave here today and stop multitasking, but stay laser like focused.

Letting go of unproductive habits part 1

Our everyday life can be full of unproductive habits and rituals that we execute – whether on a conscious or unconscious level. This makes us less efficient and productive than we could potentially be.

I want to begin to list some unproductive habits that I have helped some of my coaching students uncover in their lives to assist them in becoming more productive and living their goals more realistic. Here are some of those unproductive habits that you should let go if you do them:

1. Consuming the information you don’t need
Unsubscribe from as many mailing lists as you can. This way you can cut down the amount of incoming e-mails and prevent distraction. Another way is to use a tool that I have come to enjoy called – Unsubscribe.com. Here is briefly what it does:

Unsubscribe for Email allows you to easily remove unwanted emails from ever being sent to you again.

– Protect yourself from phishing and virus scams by letting us become your email firewall.
– Be more productive! With less clutter, you can spend time with emails that matter.
– Decrease storage and data costs with less email arriving to your inbox daily.

2. Reinventing the wheel
Before you start working on your task or project, prevent reinventing the wheel.
Spend some time on research to find out if there are already solutions that help you to complete your task faster. This is where Google comes in and dropping a quick post into the social networks like:

Kidology
cmconnect
facebook
LinkedIn

and the list goes on and on…to ask questions and get feedback from a variety of resources around the world.

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