Up Your Productivity With Templates | Productive Pastor 6

Up Your Productivity With Templates | Productive Pastor 6


In today’s podcast I talk about my new favorite productivity trick. I use templates for EVERYTHING. I cannot imagine not having access to them. They are super handy for several different reasons and I will share those with you later on.

The List:
Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Evernote from Timemanagementninja.com
Consider this to be a great introductory post on how Evernote can change the way you do life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to not have to constantly be trying to remember everything all the time and have instant access to all your thoughts, lists and other information?

Mikes on Mics Podcast
This is another great producivity podcast I have really been enjoying over the holidays. I powered down several episodes while traveling and Mike and Mike do a great show.

You’ve Got 25,000 Mornings as an Adult: 8 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine: James Clear wrote a fantastic article about why mornings really matter and how they can be the best time of day for anyone. If you haven’t taken advantage of mornings yet, I hope this convinces you.

Organize Your Life in 21 Days from Michael Lukaszewski
Michael, CEO of The Rocket Company, has put together a great free resource. I went through this email series late in 2013 and it is full of really practical tips to getting life more organized. It is done through quick email messages and gives you a few days to complete each task. I highly recommend it.

Up Your Productivity With Templates

How many times have you realized you missed doing a really simple task a couple of days back? For me, it was always sends the exact same email every Wednesday. I had to find a way to automate it, but it had to be customized every week. I tried putting a calendar reminder, but that didn’t work either. It would go off at the wrong time and I would still forget.

I also like to evaluate regular events (like Sunday) and wanted to go through the same questions every time. This was a little bit more familiar. I realized I just needed to start setting up templates to organize many of the same tasks I do each week. Here are a few reasons templates can nearly instantly up your productivity.

1. They focus life. If anything is important in our life, personal or work, it has to be part of our habits. We focus so much of what we do around regular tasks, like exercising, reading, prayer and even event preparation, committee emails and other communication tasks. Templates help us with consistency.

2. They help us complete unnatural work.
There are certain tasks I need to accomplish weekly I am not naturally wired for. But that doesn’t mean I can drop the ball. Having a template set up helps me to know it is coming and when it needs to be done.

3. They help us grow.
Templates keep us focused on what absolutely must be done. But they also help us track things. I use templates for many different things. Some are extremely task focused. Others tasks are template based because I want to build regular routines and rhythms. Doing the same thing over and over helps me with that.

My Weekly Tasks Template (pdf).

Tool Box Tip :
How many times do we know when we are worthless? I can tell you, without a doubt, I can’t get anything done around 2;30. So I don’t plan on it. I schedule really mindless tasks for this time. Or I take a quick nap or read a book. Getting over this 30-45 minute hump in my day the right way really affects what I do for the rest of the day.

I want to thank David Franks for winning our Christmas give away. He reviewed and rated The Productive Pastor on iTunes and shared on twitter. Thanks David!

I talked about the Evernote Essentials ebook on the episode. I highly encourage you to get this resource. If you have every wondered what you really should be doing, or could be doing with Evernote, this is the best way to learn.

A few episodes back I interviewed Jonathan Andersen and he gave us his template for Exegesis. In the shownotes I shared his template plus another one I was already using.

Why Pastors Need to be (Information) Hoarders

Why Pastors Need to be (Information) Hoarders

We all know what hoarders are. Cable television has made sure of that. What used to be only a rumor is now a commonplace accusation. Redditors routinely take pictures and brag about what they have seen. You can relax though. I am not telling clergy we need to start stacking up fast food trash and teddy bear collections in the parsonage.

What I do want to encourage is the practice of collecting.

Not the trashy or weird reality television collecting, but developing patterns of collecting information and storing it early in ministry. Every person who is in a communicating role in ministry needs to develop a personal system which they can quickly reference.

This is a practice long standing for those in ministry. Here is a great article about the art of building a sermon from a 1907 Methodist magazine. Many preachers slowly build up great systems to catalog information. Even if you aren’t in ministry you can benefit from the process. Ronald Reagan famously kept a notecard with him at all times for writing down notes. Many other thought leaders (especially writers)  kept pocket notebooks for when inspiration struck.

Why Pastors Need To Be (Information) Hoarders:

1. Pastors are resource managers for our local congregations. I wrote a few weeks back on why pastors need to seem themselves as curators.

2. We are constantly communicating. We need to be saving stories and other pieces of information to illustrate what we are telling people. This matters for sermon prep, blog posts, newsletter articles or leading committee meetings. People no longer want to only have information transmitted to them. They want to belong inside of a story. You have to carefully weave many things together in the communication process.

3. Those in ministry have a role as a contextual missionary to their people. Deeply resonating stories need to be shared, remembered and have the story of God woven into them. Some of them might need to be documented so the facts can stay straight. Instead of a piece of information or story being useful once, you can come back to it whenever necessary.

How to set up a system?

This is the part which takes experimentation. Some people are able to work completely digital or analog. Myself, I use a combination of pen and paper and technology.

The best way to start is to just do it.

How do you best retain information? What are you currently doing to save random bits and pieces? I always have a pocket notebook with me. I used to be a fan of moleskine notebooks, but in the last 6 months have switched over to field notes. I organize my day in my notebook as well as write down anything that comes to mind. David Allen’s classic Getting Things Done helps get people started with information collection.

In the last year I have turned into a huge fan of Evernote. It is my digital brain. I have the app on all of my computers and devices. Evernote has been a game changer for me. I can access back information quickly and efficiently.

The sermonsmith podcast had a great episode on how to use notecards for sermon preparation. I am currently trying out this method and keeping a few notecards on me. I do like to use them for my reading. I try to make a personal index so I can use what I read in any future situation easily.

No matter how, ministry leaders need to have a system set up to retain, organize and access information. There are plenty of ways out there to do it. You just need to do it.

How do you save information for future use?