Personal Productivity 05 – Your Health

image The most productive people I meet are the most healthy.  They are full of energy but know their limits.  They take care of themselves.  How can we take care of ourselves for maximum productivity?

  • Exercise.  Until 8 years ago, I was not athletic in the least (unless you count being a manager for the basketball team in High School).  I found myself pudgy and mentally sluggish.  I began to exercise and after a couple years, I took up running.  Exercise helps the brain to fire well and actually gives you more energy.  Quick mind, more energy, and less fat.   Why would you not?
  • Eat right.  OK, I’m not so great in this arena.  However, I do try to eat low fat and I rarely drink pop or caffeine.  Water is  much better for you, and cheaper!
  • Sleep.  The better you sleep, the more productive you are.  Figure out how much sleep you really need, and get it.  If you find you need to sleep in, sleep in the night before.  That’s right, go to bed early.  Studies show that sleep gained before midnight is worth more than sleep after midnight.
  • Take time off.  I was talking to a friend this week who said that he had one vacation in 4 years.  I asked “Who’s fault is that?”  He knew the answer and already has a vacation on the horizon.  Here is what I know:  time away from my job makes me better when I am here.  Take your days off and take your vacation.
  • Laugh easy.  Stop taking things so serious.  Stop taking yourself so serious.

Drop in next time as we explore the use of calendars and lists.

personal productivity 04 – you


One of the most valuable tools you have in personal productivity is you.  If you can tame the beast and discipline yourself, your productivity can skyrocket.  Here are some tips.

  • Multi task.  Most of what we do in a day can be combined with something else.  Like everyone else, I spend much time driving.  I combine that with listening to podcasts, returning calls, or mulling over projects in my head.  If a thought comes I jot it down on paper.  Driving just to get from one place to another and doing nothing else is a huge waste of time.
  • Single task.  There are some projects that are so critical, they demand my extreme attention.  For example, I do my most critical teaching work on Tuesday mornings.  During this time I do nothing else but teaching prep.  My mind wants to wonder but I know it cannot. I can’t afford it.    
  • Don’t read everything.  There is simply too much information and not enough time.  Most of what we read is useless information.  One more opinion about a topic is probably not going to move me closer to my goals. I have cut back my feed-reader and am very selective about my blog selection.
  • Limit TV.  By age 71, we have watched 10 years of TV. The average American watches 3-4 hours of TV a day.  Stop complaining that you need more hours in the day.  We just need to shove more day in the hours.
  • Start day with Life Journaling (daily devotions).  This is the beginning of my day.  It sets the tone for what is to come and is where I connect to God.  I eat breakfast while I journal, multi-tasking.
  • Don’t waste time in meaningless conversation. I don’t want to sound cold, but there is a time for high productivity and a time for casual conversation.  If we let those bleed in and out of each other we take attention away from from what we need to get done.  Be social.  Take time with friends.  Don’t do it in the middle of your important projects. 
  • Do less.  You can’t do everything.  Pick the things you can do better than most and work like mad on those.  Let someone else do the things you are not good at.  You, and your team, will be better off.

Next time we will look at personal health and productivity.

personal productivity 02 – working your computer

imageIn the last article, we explored how increasing your limits results in increased productivity.  Today we focus some attention on one of the greatest productivity tools in recent history; the personal computer.  Used correctly, it can propel you into hyper-productivity.  However, misuse the computer (like most of the world) and it will suck your time.

Here are my keys to using the computer for hyper-productivity.

  • Check e-mail twice per day on work days.  When I  first heard this advice I dismissed it.  However, the more I experiment with it, the more I found that (1) I am addicted to checking my email, (2) it interrupts my work-flow multiple times a day, and (3) I can check my email in two 15 minute batches per day.  This is remarkable, considering that my primary means of communication is through e-mail.
  • Check no work email on days off. I have a separate email for personal correspondence.  Few people have this address.  In rare cases will I check my work email on my day off.  Why?  Because I am not working.  I have to draw a line. Doing this makes me more productive at home and more productive in the office, where I am forced to get stuff done and not take it home.  
  • Refuse most IM requests.  Face it, almost everyone wants to be your cyber-friend.  I refuse several requests.  Having a full list of IM friends is like trying to work at a party.  You are in the corner working on a critically important matter and “bing” your smelly Uncle pops in view and wants to talk about nothing important.  I’m not trying to be cold hearted here, but my employer does not pay me to have my time interrupted by drunk Uncle Larry. 
  • Accept key IM’s.  There are key IM’s that I do accept (and request).  My key IM’s are my team leaders and those that work on projects with me.  Sometimes I am hung up on something and need a 60 second IM session with my team-mate.  IM saves me the wait of email.  With my team, I get in and out fast.  I have to remember that they have work to do as well.  As a side note, when my team IM’s each other, it usually starts with “got a sec?”  Many times we do have a few seconds.  Sometimes we do not.

Drop in next time when we explore how to use friends to increase productivity.

personal productivity 01 – limit

image In the past I have heard people say “I don’t know how you get everything done.”  I shrug it off and say “It’s no big deal.”  As I have been reflecting on productivity, it has come to mind that I do get a fair amount of things done.  I though I would give you a peek into my world in hopes that it might help you in some way.  I am a little hesitant to write about this lest I sound arrogant.  However, I will risk that in hopes that we can all invest ourselves better in what God has called us to do.

I’ll not address setting and working toward goals.  I will assume that you have set goals and are working toward them.

1st a rundown of my outcomes, then we will explore what I do to get to those outcomes.  Here is a list of current things I am working at (or working on):

  • Lead Pastor of exchange (full-time)
  • Weekly teaching/preaching at exchange
  • Lead worship at exchange 3 times/month
  • Lead staff of exchange (paid and volunteer)
  • Sr Associate Pastor of MCC
  • Work as a team member with paid staff at MCC
  • Maintain this blog
  • Daily Life Journaling
  • Date with Stephanie once per week
  • Date with one of my daughters once per week
  • Recording a new CD
  • Collecting ideas for my first book
  • Training for a marathon
  • Take 2 days off per week
  • A ton of other things I am forgetting :>

My 1st keys to personal productivity: limit.

  • Limit Gear. The amount of things designed to help us be more productive is simply overwhelming.  Less is more in this case.  The more we have, the more time we waste.  To be honest, I would love a Blackberry (or so I think).  But, having one more thing means I have to take time to learn to use it and most of my time checking emails and contacting others.  Should it break, I need to take time to get it fixed (or spend hours on the phone with tech support).  I lead about 100 worship and rehearsal sessions a year.  I do all this with with one nice guitar and cheap backup.  I simply don’t need more stuff to maintain. Whatever you have also has some of your time.  You must HAVE your stuff, you cannot allow the stuff to have you.
  • Limit myself. I make myself (somewhat) unavailable. I have had to learn to say no.  I can’t be available to everyone all the time.  There are crisis’ that I don’t respond to.  There are weddings that I refuse.  The more you are available to other people, the more they will take you up on your offer of availability.  After awhile, you are drifting away from your goals and your schedule is being set by other people.  You might as well hand them your calendar.  Now, before you write me off here, I admit that we do have to make ourselves somewhat available to others.  All I am saying is that we should choose wisely.  We have things that we are supposed to protect.  For more on saying no, check this out.
  • Limit the phone calls I make.  I dig the whole telecommunication scene, but we waste valuable time talking on the phone.  I am finding that the less time I spend making calls, the less people call me. I have been experimenting with limited calling and I can tell you that on an average week, I have 4-5 messages on my work phone (and none on my home).  I also am stingy with giving out my cell number.  Note:  if you are a Verizon user, dial *67 before you dial.  This will block your number from showing up on the caller ID of the person you are calling.

Before you think that I hide in a cave all week and never respond to people, let me assure you that I am easily reachable.  As a matter of fact, if you want to get in touch with me Sunday – Thursday, I will be back with you within 24 hours.

Drop in for the next article where we explore using your computer for hyper-productivity.

Happy Songs Sometimes Make Me Mad

smiley Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart
is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound. – Proverbs 25:20

We sing cheerful songs. We celebrate the things that God has done. God is good all the time, and we sing about that. But, what about the guy whose wife just left him? What about the woman who just found out she had a lump. What about the kid who is living with struggles to fit in? What about that person who carries a heart of pain? By how I lead, do I sometimes say “Just sing a happy song and it will all be OK.”

Sunday night a guy I knew from high school showed up at church. His life was crashing. His wife and he were separated and he was incredibly lonely. He was broken. He knew he had made a mess of things. His heart was heavy. Anybody could see that. He had no use for happy-clappy songs. We talked for a bit after the worship gathering. He is not ready to make a commitment to Christ. More than anything I wanted to sweep him into a community that would connect and love him and show him Christ. At a critical life-changing moment, he came to the church. He is looking for connection and answers. Will we be able to offer what he needs? My hope is that we will. My fear is that we will not.

But we do have some great happy songs.

photo by: darren copley

Joseph Myers – session 6

These notes are from Joseph Myers’ seminar “Organic Community” given at Northern Seminary, May 2008.  They are rough.  I’ll post a session each day (6 total).

Power.  Participation. 


Flowchart model – hierarchy.
They exist in nature, but how? Revolving.  Something else in the room holds the power – the project holds the power.

A specific project gives power to the project leader.  Hierarchy comes under them.  People give up power, knowing that they will get it back.

3 keys to encouraging organic order:
Project holds the power
Focus in the whole


People participate:
as individuals, not as teams and groups
in a decentralized, local way
With whole of lives
Congruent with WAY they are asked

Joseph Myers – session 5

These notes are from Joseph Myers’ seminar “Organic Community” given at Northern Seminary, May 2008.  They are rough.  I’ll post a session each day (6 total).  

Language.  Growth. 

Language has huge power

English is taking a major shift from noun-centric to verb-centric

Greek and Hebrew are verb-centric (most important part of sentence is verb)

    Indication of changes
        Word clustering (more words used to describe words – ex “small group”
        Acceptance of quantum theory

Don’t use nouns to describe something that is alive.


master plan leads to bankruptcy, organic to sustainability

large lump models ——- incremental maintenance patterns ——– bankruptcy

    ex:  big house, can only make payment, no $ for repair, bankrupt

    ex: 100% in small groups – they drop out as youth leaders, etc

piecemeal model ———- quantum leap growth patterns —— sustainability

    Do one semester and see how it goes

Flash growth – ex 40 days of purpose. OK and healthy but don’t expect it to remain

Consider before you launch next initiative:
    Will it deplete resources?  Community life?  Devastate the whole?

Community  (good fun)
This all leads to . . .

   example – Get married out of compassion, community, hope.  That lead to challenge, reasonability, hope

Raising money – don’t head close to challenge, reasonability, commitment.  Limit scope. 
Studies show that most people who come and claim your church want to give.

Salvation Army raises almost more money than any other org – they use compassion, community, and hope

Joseph Myers – session 4

These notes are from Joseph Myers seminar “Organic Community” given at Northern Seminary, May 2008.  They are rough.  I’ll post a session each day (6 total).  

Measurement.  Partners. 

We measure what we perceive to be important.

What you measure guides your process
What we do not measure becomes less important

“I hired you for your best thoughts, not your every thought.”   
Numbers tell a story.  Don’t take the story out of the numbers.

All stats and research is fuzzy.

How measure significant relationships
3-5 stories -types

Quite fuzzy here.

Pre-measure –  define and measure the future before it happens

If this is your land, where are your stories?
    Indian Chief before Canadian judge over land dispute
    Point:  tell me the stories of your land – not the numbers



We almost always get what we ask for
    Sometimes we ask for the wrong thing or give the wrong idea

I Cor 13:5 – love keeps no record of wrong.  Love is not an accountant.

Accountability – means no love.  Turns into keeping record.

Need an editor – their job is to make you sound better.

Joseph Myers – session 3

These notes are from Joseph Myers seminar “Organic Community” given at Northern Seminary, May 2008.  They are rough.  I’ll post a session each day (6 total).


Larry Crab quote on community

People communicate thru 4 spaces:
(from Edward Hall, 1960’s)

Public          12’+
Social        4′-12′
Personal    18″-4′
Intimate    0-18″

It’s more in our head than in reality

To help people with belonging:

The four spaces:
We connect
We are committed and participate


Connect thru outside influence.  Can people be committed and participate only thru public worship gatherings?              Yes.

Social Space
Connect through share snapshots about who we are (pictures of their life).
        Facebook.  Blogs
        It is important for people to build snapshots.
        Aside:  when people divorce they need to rebuild    snapshots.  Lost “we . . .”  need to make new “I . . ”

Personal Space
Share private (not “naked”) experiences, feelings, and thoughts

Share naked experiences, feelings, and thoughts
Naked and unashamed. In garden – naked and unashamed.  Sin. Naked and ashamed.

Persons who described themselves as having healthy relationships had . . .
8 public
4 social
2 personal
1 intimate
    Note:  numbers not important.  Half as many from top

Many congregations want high public and high intimate.  This is not healthy.

A person is only built to handle 1-3 intimate relationships in their lifetime. – google this.  Healthy way to make decisions.

Joseph Myers – session 2

These notes are from Joseph Myers seminar “Organic Community” given at Northern Seminary, May 2008.  They are rough.  I’ll post a session each day (6 total).  

Organic.  Patterns. 

You don’t get to choose who belongs to you.  They choose.
Give up patterns of who you choose.

You don’t get to choose how they give, when they attend, how they serve.

If God is omnipresent, isn’t everything sacred?
Treat everyone like they are family – regardless if they are sheep or goats, weeds or wheat

How do we do church in a way that allows people to choose?

Moving from Master Plan (programmer) to Organic Order (environmentalist) – handout

Talking about an organic order.  Organic has a pattern, an order (ex Sun always rise in same place)
Still need vision, goals, etc – but still being organically ordered

Be as intentional about connecting people as you are about going to sleep.
    Can’t make yourself go to sleep.  I can intend (make it cold, dark, etc).  Can create an environment that raises the likelihood that I would go to sleep.


Master plans are great for building airplanes, but maybe not for human life

Everything in nature has a pattern.  Nothing is random.  Even waves of ocean have a pattern (even with weather, ships, moon, etc)

Drawing a face on paper with grid (divided on 4ths and 5th).  It has a pattern.  None look the same.

There are patterns that people use to connect, but hardly any of them will connect the same.  My kids don’t connect the same way, neither will our congregation.
    We imply that if people don’t connect to Church in the same way, they will not experience the fullness of     community or God.

All of us collect small groups of people around us.
35% of people need help with a connection at some season in their life

Common myths of belonging:
    More time = more belonging
    More commitment = more belonging
    More purpose = more belonging
    More personality = more belonging

My ?:  what, if we took it away from you, would cripple your sense of belonging?