I live off of worksheets.
They are the single best productivity tool for me. I am a visual processor and organizer. I have used variations of them for the last year, but I became obsessed with them through my friend Bill Streger (Productive Pastor Interview) when he posted a picture of his on instagram feed. I immediately had to find out what it was and went crazy when I realized he made it himself in word.
For the last few years I have been using worksheets for plenty of projects. It started when I was designing 3-4 worship services a week. They served as a visual checklist to make sure all of the necessary elements where not only included, but worked well together. Then it turned into a way for me to systematically read and study scripture. I made one for doing basic level bible study as well.
Then I started my first sermon worksheet, which evolves every few months. I wrote a blog post on it here and share the most recent version.
I have around 15-20 worksheets I can use for many different projects. The latest was a package I put together for the productive pastor email list. You can get that one here as well.
So how do I make worksheets?
The larger question is what do I need to make worksheets for?
If I find myself doing something more than a few times and it either requires a visual layout or linear progression, it usually could benefit from a worksheet.
I start off making some sketches in my notebook and trying things out. This way I can find out what needs to be included, what needs more or less space and what the progression might be. I will do this over the space of 4-5 instances of use (could be daily, weekly or monthly). This refinement stage is one of the most important.
I use Apple Pages for all of my word processing. It has some pretty boss layout options so I settled years ago into a standard “grey box” format.
I will make a few different ones and use them for the same project. That way I can tell how I am using the data across different points. If something doesn’t work out well I mark a big red X through it. After I am done with the project I can look at how the worksheet worked and didn’t work. I then go back into pages and make a final version.
Finally, I print off a big stack. I keep a surplus of blank worksheets in my office. I find this helps them be a much better productivity tool. If you are having to print 1 out at a time it can be a drag.
I hope this encouraged you to think about using worksheets as well as got your creative juices flowing about making your own.