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17 Tips for Staying Productive

Every so often I come across a blog post that is just worth a read and re-read on a regular basis. One of those for me is one called 17 Tips for Staying Productive in Ministry by Pastor Rick Warren. There is nothing genius about any of the tips. It’s not super in depth on any one point or provide neat step by steps on calendar management or anything like that. These tips are just that. Short, useful, common sense oriented, easy to remember tips that have helped me quite a bit, and I think they can help anybody who has a lot of things to do…especially related to ministry. I encourage you to read the whole article, but here are my top five:

  1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague. A lot of us go around with anxiety which is this free-floating, vague fear that I’m not getting it all accomplished. Just the very fact of putting it down, a lot of times, gives credence and relief to your mind and you’re able to focus on it.
  2. Remind yourself of the benefits of completing the job. Jesus did this. The Bible says in Hebrews, that Jesus endured the cross because He looked to the joy beyond it. He looked beyond the cross and saw the result of it.
  3. Do a small part of it right now. In other words, Get started. Do a small part of it right now. Don’t stall. Take it a bite at a time and give it five minutes.
  4. Know your energy patterns and take advantage of peak times. Some of you are morning people. Some of you are night people. Have you learned that at some points in the day, you are brighter than at other times? You’re more alert, you have more energy. There are times when you’re habitually at your best. The only people who are at their best all the time are mediocre people.
  5. Enlist a partner. If you’ve got a big task and it’s up to you, you’ll probably procrastinate. But if you’ve got somebody else and can say, “We’re going to meet and get this thing going”, you’re more likely to get it done.

As I said, these are just a few of my favorites. I’ve found all 17 to be useful at one time or another.

Related resources

Over the years we’ve talked a lot about productivity resources on the WELSTech Podcast. So I won’t relist them here, but recently we discussed the “Bullet Journal” which fits nicely with these tips, as well as a series of reviews of the excellent book by Matt Perman entitled “What’s Best Next: How The Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done.” Check those out as a good place to start on your productivity journey.

See All Ministry Resources

491 – Bullet Journals

You won’t want to miss this week’s WELTech discussion of an analog system (a.k.a., Martin’s favorite medium – paper!) for managing tasks and lots more. We turn back time to look at the first year of WELSTech podcasting, and we feature news from LastPass, Holy Week devotions from MLC, great content on WhatAboutJesus.com and a special Easter video featuring the art of Jason Jaspersen.

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The interview and discussion:

BuJo for the analog win – Pastor Stephen Daley from St. Paul in South Haven, MI shares his bullet journaling experience with Martin and Sallie. Billed as the analog system for the digital age, Pastor Daley encourages those interested to try it for a month, and he says the key to success is regular review.

Countdown to episode 500:

On June 6, 2017, we plan to broadcast our 500th WELSTech episode. Look back at year 1, 2008, and episodes 1 to 52.

News in tech:

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Top Reasons To Visit WhatAboutJesus.com

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Artists YouTube playlist is The Good News of Christ from Motion Worship with artwork by Jason Jaspersen.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 492 – The Social Media in Ministry series continues with tips on engaging online ambassadors.  Release date: Wednesday, April 12.

Get involved:

479 – Social Media in Ministry: YouTube

Your ministry likely has, or will have, video to share in 2017. Listen in on a WELSTech discussion of the whys, whats, whos, and hows of using YouTube to get your videos played, talked about, and shared. There’s also coverage of some of the “wow” of CES, a pulsing pick of the week, and an in-depth look at the Minneapolis Institute of Art Martin Luther exhibit.

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The discussion:

All about YouTube – In this era of visual communication, the popularity of the video hosting platform YouTube has raised it to the status of the second most popular search engine. And while many may not realize YouTube has a social side to it’s personality, it can be a great place to connect and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

News in tech:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

The newest addition on the WELSTech Presentation/Teaching YouTube playlist is Always With You featuring MLC Professor David Scharf from Your Time of Grace.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 480 – Tim Plath, chairman of Area Lutheran High Schools Online, talks with Martin and Sallie about the online learning platform, plus we discuss tech backup strategy for the new year. Release date: Wednesday, January 18.

Get involved:

Productivity Tips from challies.com

Now that we’ve arrived at another new year, it’s appropriate to highlight an excellent blog that not only provides productivity focused articles, but from a ministry perspective. You can find it at http://www.challies.com.

During my time in the ministry and now consulting with many other pastors and teachers about productivity, it is clear to me that one of a called worker’s primary administrative challenges is time and task management. Within minutes their day can be turned upside down with a simple phone call, email, or after church/school conversation. They need to juggle hundreds of tasks and projects, all with real deadlines, and then be able to put everything on hold to address the many urgencies that ministry presents. As a result, they need a good productivity discipline that makes sense for them and their work.

I’ve been following Tim Challies for some time and found many of his articles helpful, if not productivity game changers. I’d say that nothing he writes on productivity (he writes about many other things as well) is “new” in the productivity world. You can see themes from people like David Allen who wrote “Getting Things Done,” and other sources. But he packages these ideas in meaningful bites and weaves them together that somebody in ministry can chew on and digest.

Here are some relevant links from his site:

If you are looking for a good place to start thinking about, or rethinking your productivity habits in 2017, you might want to start with a series of articles he wrote back in 2014 entitled How To Get Things Done. They are excellent.

One of my favorite productivity entries in the series is Using Your Calendar Effectively. He goes into some detail talking about what should and shouldn’t go on your calendar – an appropriate topic as you look at your 2017. Tim also clarifies the difference between three vital productivity tools: 1) Information Management, 2) Task Management, and 3) Calendar/Schedule Management. He makes a great case for three distinct tools and then walks through relevant examples of what goes where. Very helpful.

Related resources

Disclaimer: Ministry Resources identified on WELSTech do not all come from Lutheran sources or always adhere to WELS confessional statements. They are presented as resources that may provide value for your ministry, but assume appropriate and discerning usage.

See All Ministry Resources

478 – 2017: Focus on Ministry Resources

WELSTech starts the new year with a resolution — more and better ministry resources! We kick of the new year with a Bible reading plan and morning routine resources. Join us for 2017 as we find intersections between technology and ministry.

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The discussion:

WELSTechversary – Martin and Sallie discuss the milestone 9th anniversary of the weekly WELSTech podcast and share plans for in-depth Ministry Resource posts in 2017.

The interview:

Sphero, my hero – Mark Meyer, Technology Director at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Greenvile, WI, shares his experience introducing coding at the grade school level using Code.org and Sphero, a small robot which lets students have a ball!

WELS now:

New Interactive Faith webcasts start February 1 at 6 pm and 8 pm CST

  • Led by Rev. Randy Hunter from St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Madison, WI
  • A study on enriching marriages. Couples will have the opportunity to build their marriage on the gospel of Jesus through the study entitled “Mysterious Marriage.” This study will examine how the gospel gives you the power to be married and how marriage gives you a way to show the gospel.

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Featured video:

Watch Immanuel is a Thankful Church!, shared by Mark Meyer and the newest addition to the WELSTech “Likes” list on Vimeo.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 479 – Martin and Sallie take a deep dive into using YouTube for ministry. Release date: Wednesday, December 11.

Get involved:

The Miracle Morning

The start of a new year and hanging of a pristine new calendar, often stirs in us a desire to review our plans, goals, and personal productivity. Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM), details one approach to invigorating and accelerating the goals you’ve adopted. The approach is simple … discipline yourself to wake up one hour earlier and use the time for focused concentration on important areas of your life. While Elrod’s motivation may be different than some, this short read can serve as a springboard to adopting a healthy early-morning habit.

Application/audience

This book and the concept of starting your day with Bible study, prayer, exercise, journaling, reading and planning are something everyone can consider. As Christians, we are called to work while it is day at the tasks the Lord has prepared for us. Many WELSTech-ers have calls in the public ministry while many others are dedicated volunteers and leaders in their congregations and schools. Why not consider adding an early morning routine to your day to find out if it helps you as you carry out your public and personal ministry.

Related resources

There’s no shortage of self-help/personal productivity books on the market. Elrod himself advocates for reading other authors during your designated 10 minute reading time and adapting your “Miracle Morning” regime based on things you uncover during your reading. Here are just a few possibilities to get you started.

See All Ministry Resources

439 – The New Frontier in Productivity

The WELSTech discussion this week centers around the tools for personal productivity and why it may be time to make a switch. Sallie’s laced up her red shoelaces for a special day and there’s a brand new photo challenge for April. Tune in for the details!

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The discussion:

So many great tools – Personal productivity, a favorite topic on WELSTech, is front and center as Martin and Sallie do a run down of the multitude of tools that enhance calendaring, task management, communication, collaboration and document storage. Is it the right time for a change?

News in tech:

Amazon Echo DotCNET review

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Ministry resources:

Gospel Outreach With Media online conference

Featured video:

Featured in the Gospel Outreach With Media conference is an article from videographer Jonathan Witte where he shares ideas on Christian Media for a Non-Christian Audience. As an example, Jonathan shares one of his most popular videos, a parody which features the Martin Luther College Cafeteria – Singing in the Shower by Becky G – Caf Edition – and we’ve added it to our WELSTech Promo playlist.

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 440 – Martin and Sallie explore the online learning platform Moodle. Release date: Thursday, April 14

Get involved:

388 – Gospel-Driven

This week WELSTech marks the end of the What’s Best Next book series with a reflection on what we’ve learned along the way. There’s also discussion of an exciting opportunity for WELSTech Conference attendees, a favorite hymns survey, free fonts, the verse of the day, and much more. Join the conversation!

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The discussion:

The EndSay Goodbye – Martin and Sallie discuss Part 7 of Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done and wrap up this season’s book discussion by reviewing the five takeaways in the book recap.

News in tech:

Google Education on Air – Free online conference, May 8-9

WELS now:

Picks of the week:

Community feedback:

Ministry resources:

Featured videos:

The newest addition to the WELSTech Instructional playlist on YouTube is Understanding Exposure: The Exposure Triangle with Mark Wallace

 

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 389 – We’ll take a look at the important task of worship planning and how technology can assist – 04/21/15 @ 4 pm Central – welstechlive.wels.net

Get involved:

383 – Execute

On this week’s WELSTech we look at the heart of executing a gospel-focused productivity plan as we strive to efficiently and effectively use our gifts in service to God and others. Also on the docket are expensive watches, broken link finders, a free online conference from Google and more tabs that you can count!

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The discussion:

dare145x125pngPutting productivity into action – In part 6 of What’s Best Next, author Matt Perman details the method of executing your productivity plan including never skipping your weekly review and focusing on one task at a time. Martin and Sallie reveal their sometimes opposite (and colorful) methods for getting things done.

Ministry resources:

News in tech:

Apple announcements abound

Picks of the week:

WELS insider:

Did you miss the Heart to heart parenting blog inaugural webcast? Check out the archived video!

Need to know:

Don’t miss out on the early bird pricing for WELSTech Conference 2015! Register by April 1 for $199.

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 384 – Martin and Sallie examine the role of media in our lives, and Steve Boettcher gives us a preview of his WELSTech Conference keynote. Watch and participate on 03/17/15 @ 4 pm Central – welstechlive.wels.net.

Featured videos:

The newest addition to the WELSTech Presentation and Teaching playlist on YouTube is Concordia Publishing’s What is Lent video

 

Get involved:

379 – Reduce

WELSTech is back with tips for eliminating some of your workload and serving others in the process. There’s also news on the Google Apps front, a fun survey app for the classroom, online classes and new wiki pages to explore. Join the conversation!

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The discussion:

What's Best NextDon’t Do Everything – Martin and Sallie return to this season’s book discussion, looking at Part 5 of Matt Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. This part of the book focuses on the “R” step in Matt’s DARE process for managing work, Reduce, and offers practical ideas for eliminating portions of your workload.

Ministry resources:

News in tech:

Picks of the week:

WELS insider:

Online Friendship Evangelism Course

Need to know:

Register for WELSTech Conference 2015

Community feedback:

Coming up on WELSTech:

Episode 380 – Tune in for a discussion of Project Management software options. (2/17/15)

Featured videos:

Check out this week’s video to the WELSTech Product Demos playlist on YouTube – Introduction to redesigned Admin Console

 

Get involved: