In this episode of After 9, Zac and Chad get honest about the importance of time management and staying productive in youth ministry. It is easy to stay busy, but difficult to keep the most important and significant work in front of us. Listen to the end for a free productivity resource!
So my Dad is one of the best Dads I know. One of his better lines is that "the right tool makes all the difference.” So whether we were building jug lures for fishing or hanging Christmas lights, he would always take the extra time to get, borrow, or buy the right tool for the job. My favorite part of these outings was learning about how many tools had similar looks but completely different uses. Seriously have you seen the tool department at big box stores!
Youth ministry is in many ways similar. We need the right tools and sometimes we didn’t even know they were available (or affordable). So welcome to another weekly review of a free tool to boost youth ministers and youth ministry. This week we are all about Overcast, the supreme app for consuming podcasts.
Caveats: Not every one of these will be new to you or useful. No worries, sometimes tool-shopping is about remembering what is out there for later. Also, it takes time to adapt to new tools. If you have never used one of these tools before remember that adding or shaping your personal workflow (or your team’s) takes time, practice, and routine.
#YouthMinistry Is A Game Of Busyness.
I have never met a youth minister who wasn’t in a “busy season,” and yet I have met very youth ministers who felt like they were doing really important work all the time. Yeah, yeah if you get the minister away from the hustle and bustle of the church office or exhaustion of camps or retreats they might be able to piece together a couple of important moments or stories, but it seems like too many of us go about our weekly existence laboring with tasks, projects, or busyness that seldom feel important or meaningful.
- What if there was a way to participate in the weekly grind of youth ministry and do some of your most important work?
- What if there was a method to help you feel like your were inching every week to a fuller and clearer sense of vocation? whilst finding more and more time for your family, friends, and self? It’s not a ploy, it’s a tool that works and it’s our feature this week on Tuesday Toolbox: The Eisenhower Method.
The Eisenhower Method or What Steven Covey Still Teaches Us
There are three lessons to be learned from this quote.
- We don’t have enough important Dwights anymore
- Utilizing your middle initial gives you extra credibility and
- Graph paper is a better medium to navigate your tasks than your yellow legal pad.
The fundamental principle of the Eisenhower method is that tasks should be marked as either urgent or not urgent and either important or not important.
By utilizing these keywords you can start to group and categorize what you needs to get done because it needs to get done or what needs to get done because it is important or what needs to not get done by you because you are delegating. It is time for us to move beyond the one category mindset of “I need to get all this stuff done.” The truth is you cannot get it all done and we need to stop trying to live that way.
The key feature of the Eisenhower method is assign tasks, projects, and obligations to a quadrant. This helps us to visual our work and assess our efforts and plot our success. It is probably so simple you don't belive me, but trust me it changes everything about your workload. You are doing stuff that you shouldn't do and you are missing out on the important stuff because it hasn't called to bother you this week.
The Eisenhower Method starts with the Brain Dump we worked on last week. We can take the data from that long, long list of stuff we need to do and assign it the correct value so that we can actually get work done.
So it’s time to break out your brain dumps from last week friends. We are going to take what we had in our heads and put them to good work. Okay, scan the list and start moving stuff around and be brutally honest in where you place things. Use the example categories and quandrants to help you navigate.
Productivity Guru Stephen Covey Reminds Us
So you may not know his name, but you probably are familiar with (or have utilized) the famous illustration of a glass jar being filled up with rocks and sand. This productivity/prioritization illustration teaches that if you fill a jar with rocks first then the sand will fall into place, but if you fill the jar with sand first then the rocks will not fit.
The good news is that this metaphor is still true. There is no shortage on things that are competing for your attention, jockeying to get into your life, and beckoning you to work on them or get them done.
You cannot control the flow of time my friend but you can assign the right value to the most meaningful tasks. Let’s be honest the urgent and important stuff will find a way to get done and the urgent stuff will keep making itself urgent, but by focusing on the important work that is not urgent we can begin to accomplish the things we really wanted to get done.
Come back next week as we finish this three part series on personal productivity.
Thanks for reading.
My Dad is the best Dad I know. One of his wise sayings is, "the right tool makes all the difference.” So whether we were tuning up our bikes, demolishing my first home, or flipping my first home, he would always take the extra time to get, borrow, or buy the right tool for the job. My favorite part of these outings was learning about how many tools had similar looks, but completely different uses. Seriously have you seen the tool department at big box stores! It's a store within a store I tell you!
Youth ministry is in many ways similar. We need tools, the right tools, and sometimes we didn’t even know they were available (or affordable).
Welcome to another weekly review of a free tool to boost youth ministers and youth ministry. This week we are all about the Brain Dump, a productivity practice that might change your life this week (not a guarantee just telling you that it has worked wonders for the #YMB team).
Caveats: Not every one of these tool reviews will be new to you or useful for you. No worries, sometimes tool-shopping is about remembering what is out there for later. Also, it takes some time to adapt to new tools. If you have never used one of these tools before remember that adding or shaping your personal workflow (or your team’s) takes time, practice, and routine.
Youth Ministry Workers Are Busy People!
If you have been in youth ministry for any time at all, you know that you just always have more stuff to get done.Meetings, appointments, school lunches, phone calls, emails, messages, lesson prep, setup, teardown, cleanup, planning. Aaaagh! It can be overwhelming just thinking about it, never mind trying to get it all done, But maybe that’s the problem maybe we can’t get it all done.
So where do we begin? Do we continue to just get overwhelmed, overworked, and eventually crushed by the wave of stuff that comes across our desk, office, or phone?
I need a help, I need a guide, I need a tool. Today’s tool is not an app, device, or gadget but a tactic to help you get your head on straight. It’s called…
The Brain Dump
The Brain Dump is a tool borrowed from David Allen’s Getting Things Done (which is a productivity must read book) and is one of the most immediately effective tools for turning the swirl of stuff from cloudy to clarity. It is simply a chance to off-load the stress of your brain into a container (pad, journal, or paper) and give you the confidence to get back to work and not worry.
There is usually just so much swimming in our head that it actually prevents us from being effective. Considering all you have to do and getting all you need done are not the same things. Having the idea and executing the idea are two entirely different things, yet we often confuse the two. So today we are going to Brain Dump everything that is floating around in your head that is keeping you from being effective.
Before we become more effective/efficient we need to spend some time being inefficient. For the next 50 mins I need you to put your computer away, turn the music off, and not take the next couple of calls. (Seriously, put the phone away.)
Okay, now we are going to do something archaic. Get a legal pad or notebook and a pen/pencil we going write down everything in your head onto paper.
STEP 1: Make The List (Estimated time 35 min)
Think of everything you need to do, you may need to settle in we will be here for awhile.
Now, walk though the clutter of your mind aisle by aisle, compartment by compartment and write everything down you think you need to do or get done.
(Don’t worry about categorizing things these are just prompts to get your mind moving)
- Call to Make
- Emails To Send
- Meetings To Setup
- Stuff to Mail
- Stuff to Print
- Rooms to Clean
- Bills to Pay
- Rooms To Clean
- Chores To Get Done
- Things to Fix
- Things to Sell
- Things To Buy
Shopping, Errands, Chore Work
- Christmas Gifts
- Household Goods
- Baby Stuff
Books, Movies, Media
- Stuff To Read
- Shows To Watch
- Movies To See
- Games You Want To Play
Health, Fitness, Wellness Work
- Gym Schedule
- Run Schedule
- Health Goals
- Menu Planning
Friends and Family Work
- Quality Time To Plan
- Relatives To Visit
- Friends To Catch Up With
Stuff This List Missed
- What’s Not On Here?
- What Am I Still Thinking About?
Got it all? Whew you can feel the release right? It’s not in your brain anymore. It’s here, right in front of you.
STEP 2: Examine The List (Estimated time 15-20min)
Now the second step. Whoa, whew, what? That’s a lot of stuff you got there friend, and all that stuff was floating around in your head clogging up your clarity. What do you notice about this long laundry list (oh shoot! laundry! I knew I forgot something).
Is the list longer on the church side of things? Is it heavier on the home side of things? What is really clogging up your brain? What can you do about it? Well I am not a guru, but the good news is your list is in front of you and not swirling inside you.
Now you can actually see what needs to get done. So get to work right? Except, Wait!
Say to yourself, “This is not my to-do list.” Okay now you, “This is not my to-do list.” One more time for effect, “This is not my to-do list.”
What you have before you is a log of everything. Everything you could think of. It is not what you have to get done today. It took longer than a week to fill your brain with this stuff it will take longer than a week to finish it all.
What we are going to do is to start chipping away at it by creating manageable to-do lists.
Step 3: Write Today's To-Do's (Estimated time 5-10min)
Okay, now as you breathe out, consider what are the 3-4 things that are really important and need to get done this week. This will become your to-do list for today. Once you get these things done you are released from today's work to return to life and enjoying whatever comes your way.
TODAY’S TO DO LIST
*Only if you can’t cut it down to 3, we would rather it be 3.
Now, get those things before tomorrow starts.
That's it! Then tomorrow when you wake up pick 3-4 more things. Eventually, this long piece of brain dump paper is going to get smaller and your head is going to feel less full.
Come back next week when talk about processing and sorting all of this information. #graphpaper.