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My Kidmin tools – simply put

Over the years I have observed many people that others might call “successful” in their area of work or life and have learned that: The better one becomes at their area of expertise, the more simple and steady the tools one uses becomes.

What does this mean to you or what does it really look like when fleshed out? It could mean that you need to take a look at the simplicity or complexity of the tools you are using. More is not always better. I truly believe there is a direct relationship between the quantity of tools that you use and the quality of your productivity. Less is more.

Here are just a few places within my blog where you can watch this journey of mine through the different stages of learning about the importance of simplifying. Check them out. To read even more on this topic or to walk through this journey with me, go ahead and put the word “Productivity” in my search field and further your learning journey.

Fewer Gathering Places. The importance of not just simplifying your tools but the places of storage or collecting papers etc. throughout the day. Learn this process for quicker and more efficient productivity.

Not as much about the tool as it is about you. Through this simplifying journey of mine I have read great posts of wonderful tools, and many I re-tweet or re-post as well. For those who advertise all the great tools they are using to simplify their life, months later I read of their life out of control. Read on and learn what I pick up from these lessons.

Lessons on focus. Here is one that is not about tools at all but your focus. Simplifying your focus with fewer tools will make you more effective with those tools. Simplifying your focus into the top 20% of what only you can do and delegate out the rest will help you become more effective as well.

I will end this post with this thought: Have you become too complex with the tools you use that were supposed to make life more simpler? Have you become too overburdened by all the task and projects that you take on? How can you simplify and become more productive by having and doing less for the purpose of having and doing more, better?

Fewer gathering places helps efficiency

I am working with one of my coaching students on productivity and have shared a few items that really seem to be a great hit with this student. I thought I would share one or two of them here as well in case it may be of help others.

The one for today is to have less “gathering places”. Here is what I mean. Often times we pick things up and lay them down in a variety of places. Then when it is time to find those items again, be it a sticky note, car keys, letter, or whatever we have to hunt around to find out where we put it. This always takes time.

Instead, I recommend setting up 6-7 “gathering places” for specific reasons. Here are mine as an example:

1. Evernote app. Here is an app that I have on my iPhone, Macbook Pro, and iPad that syncs between all of them. I probably use this as my main gathering place since I can store photos and text and do a search for anything even with a photo. I can search for a word and it will highlight every place that word shows up, even in photos. I keep a file in Evernote titled “Process” which means I will check through there every Monday to file things, or read items that I did not have time to tend to but just threw them in there.

2. Big Box. Here is an old school idea that I still find very useful. Get a big box and keep in the corner of your office, or a decorative one to keep in the corner of one of your rooms in your house. When your hands touch something and you don’t have time or are not sure where to put it, throw it in that box. At the end of every day schedule 20-30 minutes before you leave the office or go to bed to empty this box.

3. File Cabinet. This is one that I do not use often, only because I scan with Neat Receipts portable scanner. I also take pictures of items that would usually go in a file cabinet and keep in Evernote or Neat Receipts (this is my 4th gathering place I will mention next). But sometimes you may have a contract, lease, mortgage papers stuff like that which you can still keep in a file cabinet. In my file cabinet I have a folder at the front of it labeled…you guesses it, “process”. I use this if I have a paper to do something with but don’t have the time take a picture of or scan, so I throw it in my Process folder in the file cabinet. Every Monday this process folder is one I go through as well to do what needs to be with each piece there.

4. Neat Receipts with my scanner. I touched on this above but briefly this is where all my scanned items will go. Within Neat Receipts I have folders set up to accommodate everything I need to file.

5. Email. This is one that I see many misuse. They keep their inbox as a storage place and work off of it. I don’t recommend this as it will eventually catch up to you and cloud your mind, thinking, decisions, and in the end not make you as productive as you could be. Instead file your emails once you read them, make a decision. Ask yourself these three questions:

A. What is the next step?

B. When will it be done?

C. Where is it’s home?

I will share more on these 3 questions at a latter time.

6. Calendar. This is one that I feel many people under utilize. I am a Mac guy and so I enjoy iCal with it’s many color coded options and more. This is another item I will get into at a later time, but decisions need to be made on if what you are filing in this gathering place is a calendar item, a to-do, or a task? In iCal it will handle all 3 of these choices in this one gathering place.

7. Wild Card or voice mail. I don’t recommend voice mail but some use it well. I have listed “Wild Card” because, with some social networking out there, some of us have started to figure out a system to use this as a gathering place.

In closing, remember these are mine, you may have others. The bottom line is to try and live with this principle of fewer gathering places so that you can be more productive and efficient.

A difference between the front and the back of the house

Before I was in ministry 18 or so years ago, one of my jobs use to be a floor manager for the Olive Garden. I really enjoyed the job. Actually one of the places I had the privilege of working was at a new store start up. How exciting! Everything is new and you get to hire a ton of new people. Cleaning at the end of the night is great as it is all new and easy to clean.

One area that may have been a bit challenging was that everyone was new. The team had not had a chance to work with one another and people were just getting to know each another. The habits of all the new people had to be molded to habits that the store needed. One of the big areas was to teach the difference between the front of the house (where the customers saw, sat, and eat) and the back of the house (where the meals were made, dishes washed, and break rooms were located).

I carry this habit of teaching, training and equipping all my teams the difference of back of the house vs. the front of the house habits into ministry. The back of the house people could often times dress differently, have a different volume in which they worked, and minute by minute organization looked differently as well. The front of the house team wore the ties, pressed their shirts, and for the most part performed a different part. Both front and back of the house were extremely important and were needed the same to have a successful restaurant. People came because both worked well together. They came if the food (back of the house) tasted good and the feel of the restaurant (the front of the house) made them comfortable.

In my check in counters for the kids ministries for example, I do not allow people to eat up front, do work at the counters, text, or even sit down while working check in. I train them to stay focused and talk with those checking in, making each person who checks in feel like they have come to the right place.

Then once they get checked in, they head back let’s say to the nursery. The volume changes a little, my team in the back of the house may be rolling on the floor with kids, we have some snacks back there etc. But to me the difference of having both front of the house and back of the house is vital. I would not want the two to get mixed up.

I feel the front of the house done right says to those who are coming, “Welcome we are glad you have chosen to come here today”. Then the back of the house done right simply says, “You have chosen right in coming here”.

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