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Category Archives: Productivity

Creativityist has a great post on various software that can help you be productive and creative. It’s a great list, go check it out.

I noticed a bad habit. I no longer read blogs that have a lot of content. I always mark them to read later. So this morning I was wondering why this problem exist? The answer is simple-I’m busy. Life goes fast, work and kids have taken a ton of time and mental energy the past few weeks.

However-I do see a problem. As a leader, I have to always be learning. I keep trying to re-program my mind to slow down. My job as an Elder/Pastor is not to check off a ton of to-do list items. But I love to do that, it makes me feel better, more productive and useful.

But it’s not…I think we pastors forget that our main priority is to be men/women of God. My true job is to hear the voice of God and to make sure we (my local church community) stays on-mission.

I know I’ve posted a lot lately about focus and productivity. Its a huge priority for me. We have some pretty big plans coming up for Vista. Plans that I think will take us to the next level. But it’s going to take an insane focus.

So I changed my routine today. I hit the gym at 6:30am. Usually I go to the gym after work. But some issues kept creeping in.

1) Stuff happens right? So many obstacles that would get in the way. Dinners, being tired, kids not feeling well etc.

2) Mental focus: I would constantly spend mental energy thinking about “going” to the gym. I prescribe to the “Getting Things Done” method. The big key of course is to take a to-do and do something with it so you don’t spend time thinking about it.

So, I showed up at the office at 8:45 and I already worked out…Now I can put all my focus on having a productive work day. I’m hoping this will work long-term.

Whoops-I forgot to post my final thoughts on staying creative.

For part 1 go here and for part two go here.

7. Coffee: Good coffee is absolutely necessary. I drink my coffee black so if you put a ton of cream and sugar then good coffee may not be so good!

8. Rest: Usually once or twice a month I hit a wall. When I hit the wall I just stop and chill and I don’t feel bad about it. Also, I do my best not to think about ministry at least one day per week. I don’t always accomplish my goal, but I try my best to free my mind. Ministry is a never ending maze that has no finish line. Another words, it’s a marathon and I have to embrace being creative over the long-haul.

9. Active Lifestyle: Yes that’s right, when you feel better about yourself, you will be more creative. Also, I sleep better which helps me think better. Being outdoors brings inspiration. I long to be in nature, to hear the sound of waves or birds or look into the sky and stare at the various formations. Creativity comes from God and nature shows God’s artwork and I think He really embraces when humanity expresses beauty and imagination.

10. Eat right: Again, I feel better about myself when I eat right. It’s a stewardship issue. I have energy, my mind is clear and I feel like I’m doing what’s best for me and my body.

BONUS THOUGHT:

Pl

7. Coffee: Good coffee is absolutely necessary.

8. Rest: Usually once or twice a month I hit a wall. When I hit the wall I just stop and chill and I don’t feel bad about it. Also, I do my best not to think about ministry at least one day per week. I don’t always accomplish my goal, but I try my best to free my mind. Ministry is a never ending maze that has no finish line. Another words, it’s a marathon and I have to embrace being creative over the long-haul.

9. Active Lifestyle: Yes that’s right, when you feel better about yourself, you will be more creative. Also, I sleep better which helps me think better. Being outdoors brings inspiration. I long to be in nature, to hear the sound of waves or birds or look into the sky and stare at the various formations. Creativity comes from God and nature shows God’s artwork and I think He really embraces when humanity expresses beauty and imagination.

10. Eat right: Again, I feel better about myself when I eat right. It’s a stewardship issue. I have energy, my mind is clear and I feel like I’m doing what’s best for me and my body.

BONUS THOUGHT:

I’m still searching for a good work-week rhythm. Right now I take two days off, Friday & Saturday. But two days in a row is hard for me. I would rather work to be frank. Plus It’s hard not to think about Sunday on Friday & Saturday. Also, sometimes on Monday I just have no energy. So I think if I split my days it may bring more focus and clarity?

For pastors it just seems complicated to really get a good rhythm when you work on Sunday. Of course my wife in off on Mondays so that helps.

I’m sure I can add some more. But those are ten simple ways that I keep my creative juices flowing.

4. I absorb a lot of information, sometimes too much.

* Read lots of books in a variety of areas.
* I listen to a ton of podcasts.
* I study other businesses and church leaders; I do not stay within one stream. I will listen to Hybels, Bell, Driscoll, McManus etc. Why? because I learn a lot from these dudes, they are all very creative and they have accesses to info that I do not have access to. I think God uses “figure-head” leaders to bless the rest of us.
* I read a ton of blogs and articles. Although, let me warn you-less it more. I read key blogs and articles. I prefer to go “deep” and not “wide.”

5. Conferences: I have not been to a conference in a long time, but that will change. I hope to hit two a year. It just makes since to change rhythm and be around men and women who can teach and stretch me and be around creative people and organizations that getting the job done.

6. Local book stores: When I lack creativity I go to the local Borders/B&N, pick up books and magazines and just read; So many fresh idea’s come out of these moments. I love the visual, paper, inspiration etc. And it’s free 🙂

How do you stay creative? If you are like me you go “in-and-out” of creativity moods. I can’t just “be” creative. But there are some things you can do to get the creative juices flowing.

1. Change locations: I seem to rarely be creative while in the office. Usually creativity comes in creative places. For me it’s a local cafe.  Not Starbucks by the way. Usually an eclectic, indy cafe that has some sort of local creative environment. Also, a lot of creative people hang out in cafes, so that helps set the culture.

2. Space Engineering: We just painted our entire office. It’s now a more creative space. Before we had dirty white walls. When folks walk in the office now, they are like, “sweet, place looks awesome.” Here are some key elements that are huge for me to work effectively in the office.

* Clean: Enough said.
* Clutter free: I need space. I can’t stand it when I feel enclosed. I need everything to be in place.
* Activity: I like an office that is active. I want to hear noise, people, vision, discussions etc.
* Aroma: Can you say candles. I want my air to be clean and fresh.
* Cool Temperatures: Hot office = sleeeeeep!

3. Capture: Like I said, creativity comes and goes. When I get a good thought it can slip my mind in a matter of minutes and/or seconds. So I use three key elements to capture my raw thoughts.

* Moleskin: By far my life had been so much better because of this little black book. I carry it with me all the time.
* Comp: I roll with my Macbook just about everywhere. I use Google Notebook for “all” my notes. When I decide to act on the creative juices, I move that info to Backpack (My projects) or Basecamp (team projecst).
* Whiteboard: I have one huge whiteboard (getting another huge whiteboard) and I place a lot of raw thoughts on those whiteboards. I love a whiteboard, I love the space, I love to write my thoughts down and I love to erase stuff ASAP and start all over.

Part two coming tomorrow.

That’s right, My inbox is empty-feels so good. Hopefully I can keep it this way.

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I’m in constant pursuit of productivity and simplicity. To me, clutter is by far a huge productivity killer. I’ve always struggled with a “cluttered” desktop. No more. Why? Well I found a solution. Five Steps to a Kinkless Desktop is a simple system that helps you keep a clean desktop and also helps you know where to put what folders.

Anyhow, no need for me to explain it. In 20 minutes you can have a long-term system in place. Below is a sample of my desktop.

desktop2.jpg

I had a few folks ask me about productivity. How I run my day and all that.

First of all, my days are always a bit different. A lot depends on the kids schedule and all.

Here is my goal for each day:

  • Workout & get 2 hours of prayer/bible reading and theological study before 10AM.
  • I want to only check my email 2 times per day-10AM & 4PM. I want to reply to each email and then delete them.
  • I have two major focuses each day:
    •  Connect with at least 1 person. Coffee/Lunch etc.
    • Work on 1 major project. I’m no longer a fan of multi-tasking. Focus Focus Focus.
    • When I leave the office I want to leave work behind. Being a workaholic is over-rated.
    • I only want to be away from my family 2 nights per week.
    • We are  “meetings” heavy at Vista right now. So in the future I hope we will be able to not spend so much time in meetings.
    • I want to focus on two major project management philosophy. Another words I should be working on projects that do 1 of 2 things at least 80% of the time:
      • Raise-up leaders.
      • Connect  w/the unchurched.
    • The only way for me to focus and keep my priorities is raise up deacons who can be effective doing all the stuff that I can’t get to.

    Of course I tend to get sideways and I struggle to stay focused on this. But it’s my goal  to keep pursuing a very focused life that causes some forward momentum.

So I hit the gym this morning and headed to the office. I prepared my daily to-do list to make sure I stay on task and have a productive day!

Good right?

Actually NO-Its not good.

Why?

Because its work. You know projects, stuff to get done. Then I can check it off and feel good about myself. I can tell myself I’m a good pastor who works hard, like the corporate dudes!

But maybe I missed the point.

Maybe I need to be more of a spiritual pastor and less of a corporate spiritual leader.

Maybe I need to embrace the weight of pastoring?

See this morning I’ve yet to pray, repent, read the Bible, seek God for my family and my church.

This morning I’m operating as if this pastoral thing is just a job, and if I finish my to-do list then I will have done my job.

My church needs me to be a pastor that knows the heart and voice of God.

My family needs me to the man that sets the spiritual pace.

This morning I’ve been highly productive-and yet I’ve already failed in my role as a pastor, a husband and father.

When will I learn?