Browse Tag

habits

How self evaluations help predict the future

At the end of each day, plus at the end of each week, I have learned the value of running self-evaluations.

“It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” Marianne Williamson

“Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.” John Wooden

Self-evaluation is important at any stage in your life. In the ministries I am over we use self-evaluations for any project and services we have in place. Furthermore, teachers are now actively encouraging their pupils to self-evaluate. Self-evaluation is an important part of being committed to lifelong learning. Understanding that we will never complete our learning journey and to grab every opportunity to learn new skills is important to me. This is why I use these questions at the end of the day to journal as I evaluate my day.

My daily questions:
How well did I support my pastor in prayer today? How well did I cover the board of elders in prayer today? Cover my top 20% of leaders in ministry today?
Continuing in a spirit of prayer for some of my daily relationships keeps my focus on others. Helps me to always check my relationships.

Do I need to ask anyone’s forgiveness?
If you’ve offended someone this week, seek to get right with him or her before you gather to worship God.

Do I need to forgive someone?
Don’t let your anger become a stronghold for Satan.

Do I have any lingering sins in my life?
Each day there could come little, brief snags to tarnish my witness, I wish I hadn’t done—but I did. Confess it now.

In what ways have I wasted time and money today?
Both are a gift from God, and you’re called to be a good steward of what He provides. Wasting time but claiming to be busy isn’t stewarding this trust well.

Are there any relationships I need to build or invest more into?
Relationships in life are so important.

End of the week questions I use:

What do I know about God and His Word that I didn’t know last week?
If the answer is “nothing,” you may not be spending enough time with Him.

Will anything in my life hinder the work of God in my church this weekend?
Unconfessed, hidden sin will. So will bitterness toward others. Pride and lust won’t help, either.

Have I prayed well for my team members this week?
Each member has more going on in their lives than what I see at work. They need someone standing in their corner lifting them to God.

Have I loved my family as I should have this week?
Your first responsibility for being a witness to the gospel is in your home. How would your family answer this question?

Who knows more about God today because of my witness this past week?
Your answer to this question will tell whether you’ve sought to do evangelism this week. For me the stronger my relationship is with God the more I truly want to find ways to share how He is the answer. Lack of sharing for me shows how close I am feeling to my Savior.

The idea behind self-evaluation is that our judgment of what we think we are doing and what we actually are doing is not always the same. This is why it is so important to do regular self-evaluations. Your future impact depends on it.

What questions would you add and why do you view they are important?

How to accomplish more effective note taking

To be completely honest, this is a new topic and habit for me. Effective note taking that is. I have always taken notes and underlined and all when listening to podcast, sermons, etc.. But, with the ever-increasing amount of data that I need to take in to be an effective Executive Pastor, getting note taking down is even more paramount now.

Habits that do not work. Highlighting. I know, ouch, right? I was a master highlighter. Every book, every Bible that I had looked like it was the result of a rainbow that had thrown up. Highlighting may look product and useful, but actually is the opposite. In fact, highlighting is such a bad study technique it may even harm your recall ability since it highlights particular notes and takes them out of their original context, which makes it harder to form connections in your mind—and thus, harder to remember the material. We need to interact heavily with our notes and the material we’re trying to learn if we’re to remember it. Highlighting and underlining are passive and not interactive.

A habit that does work: Handwritten notes. To be completely honest with you, I am not sure I would have ever tried to go back to handwritten note if it was not for my Rocketbook Wave Notebook. Yes, handwritten and not on a laptop. There is a study titled: To remember a lecture better, Take Notes by hand.

Another habit that works is to draw your notes. An interesting study was done where they even compared handwriting vs drawing and drawing came out on top for memory recall.

Drawing your notes isn’t anything new. In fact, it has a name: sketchnotes. Designer Mike Rhode popularized “sketchnotes” with his books The Sketchnote Handbook and The Sketchnote Workbook. Rhode uses the term sketchnotes to describe the way he draws shapes and pictures among his notes to help him better take the main ideas from conference talks, and not trying to note down every little point.

Rhode advocates using signs and shapes such as boxes and arrows, different sized writing, and doodles to illustrate notes. You don’t need to be an amazing artist to use sketchnotes, he says. You only need to practice using simple shapes and images to illustrate your points.

So, are you willing to give note taking a try again? I know it can feel so yesteryear but again if it wasn’t for my Rocketbook Wave I would not have tried again either. But now, I’m glad I did because I get to enjoy the best of both worlds plus recall more.

Thoughts? Do you write out notes? Do you only use electronics? Feel free to share.

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.

Don’t hold back your better process for reading

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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.

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.

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.”

Leadership Priorities for Success

Stack of sticky notes with a meeting reminder.

True confession…Leadership is hard work.

In my networking with leaders from the business world and the non-profit world the fact of how hard leading can be on someone is one common story we all agree on. There are decisions we each need to make that vary from important matters to urgent matters. The varying noise that can come from each of these can make it hard at times to decide which decisions need action now or later. With each of our decisions we can often times drift from being and doing what we should be and what we should be doing into a mess of other things.

Here are some actions that I use to stay in tune with my leadership priorities.

#1: Pareto Principle. Those closest to me know and have heard me talk about the Pareto principle. This was a principle that once it was taught to me years ago it made a huge impact into my life. Basically this principle says that 80% of the value I give lies within 20% of what I do and my true values. For example, if you have a To Do List with 10 items ranked in order of importance with 1 being the most important and 10 being the least important, items 1 and 2 would contain 80% of the value of the priorities you plan to do. Know your 20%!

#2 Execution clarity. When I find my top 20%, I’m relentless in my pursuit of them, these are the truly important issues for me. Of course, the urgent will continue to emerge. When the urgent comes, I will quickly deal with these matters by asking: “Does this situation fall in my 20%? If not, do I have someone who is better suited for this (whenever my answer to this is “no” I make note of this as an area that I need to train people)? Or am I the best or only one who can deal with it? Once I answer this and execute then I return to the relentless pursuit of my top 20%.

#3 Task Management. I can’t manage time but I can manage my task that happen within the time I have. How often have you said something like this, “I just can’t seem to make time to do this” or “I’ll have to make time to do this?” No one can make time. Time is a gift from God and the management of our task within that time is our gift back to God.

#4 Reflective clarity. I have decided what my priorities are, I am clear on my execution for my 20%, and I realize that Time is a gift from God and that the task I carry out and manage within that time is my gift back. Now the last action in this process for me is to always ask myself “what have I learned in the process?” I set up a time and place to always ask myself, “What happened as I created clarity in my life?” “Why did it happen?” “What does this mean for using my next gift of 24 hours?”

Repeat all the above to keep up your leadership focus.

What are some steps you take to keep from drifting and stay focused in your leadership journey? Please share I would enjoy hearing them.

Ideas toward better efficiency

efficiency

There are as probably as many ways to better efficiency as there are ideas that people have. In this post I am not going to suggest a new method, only a method that has worked for me. If you can use any of it then great, if not, then please share your method.

I have always been mentored that you plan your work & work your plan. Invest just 1 minute of planning and it can save you 10 minutes of doing.

Part of Knowing my plan starts with me knowing how I work best. Yes, we all have a certain work style and that is where I started in my pursuit toward better efficiency.
* I payed attention to how I spent my time now.
* Identified “my prime time”. Mine is mornings and my wife is at night for example
* Focused on results, not on being busy.
For one month, I kept track of how long I thought each of my tasks would take me, then recorded how much time I actually spent on each task.

Now the actual Planning
– Write it down! (Here is where I could list several tools over time that I have used electronically to do this, but I have switched the actual tool so many times. The tool I use is not as important as the actual point of just writing it down.)
– Break big projects into smaller tasks. I have learned if I don’t break them into more manageable bite size pieces I don’t have as such a high rate of accomplishment.
-Write down the next “action step” on your to do list.

I will stop here for today and continue it in another post with the topics of Prioritizing and furthering my process.

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.

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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