Top 6 Productivity Hacks for 2017

How to get more done in less time!

One of the biggest questions on the minds of people in a leadership position this time of the year is “How can I be more productive with my time?”  In other words, how can I get more done for my organization, my personal life, my family, or my faith community?

If you want to accomplish more in your life in 2017, you have two choices:  (1) Work HARDER (longer hours, late nights, etc.); or (2) Work SMARTER!  The second choice is by far the healthier option of the two.  So, to that extent, I want to share with you my Top 6 Productivity Hacks for 2017.

  • Keep the big picture in mind – take time to reflect on why you are doing what you are doing.  Plan out your year.  What are the goals that you have for the various areas of your life (personal, professional, family, etc.)?  Take time to make of list of the goals that you want to accomplish in 2017 and, then, post them where you will see them every day.  That could be on your bulletin board, your computer monitor, your desk, or even your refrigerator – anywhere where you can see and be reminded each day of what is most important in your life.
  • Employ the Pareto Principle – this principle, as applied to time management, states that 20% of the tasks that you do will yield 80% of the results.  The remaining 80% of the tasks that you complete will only provide 20% of the results that you are seeking.  So, make a “to do” list of all the steps needed to accomplish your goals.  Then, determine what 20% of those tasks will give you the 80% ROI of your time.  Focus on doing those things – you might even be able to decide not to do some of the other 80% because it won’t add much value to reaching your goal.
  • Get organized – spend time getting organized and looking at what you need to do.  David Allen calls this a weekly review.  Spend time at the beginning of each week looking over your goals, your calendar, your appointments, your projects, and any other items that you need to accomplish that week.  Then, schedule it all into your calendar.  Plan your week.

In addition to a weekly review, I also recommend a monthly review once per month to keep a focus on what you will be doing in the next 30-90 days, and a daily review each night to plan your next day.

  • Spend time in the balcony – most people spend so much time in the whirlwind of day-to-day life that they fail to spend enough time in the balcony.  The balcony is the place where you are up high looking down at your organization, your life, and your goals.  It gives you a perspective that you don’t have in the whirlwind.  It gives you the time to determine if you are on track to meeting your goals, or if you need to make a few mid-course corrections.
  • Do everything “Off Peak” – there are times throughout the day when things are at their busiest.  For example, you have to schedule a lunch appointment and you know that your favorite restaurant has a lunch rush that begins at 11:45 am.  If you come after that you’ll spend valuable time waiting in line and waiting for your food.  Instead, arrive at 11:30 am and get ahead of the crowd.  With a little creativity, you can do quite a lot of things “off peak” and shave minutes, or even hours off your day – time that you can use on other projects and goals.
  • Make a “Don’t Do” List – most people have a “to do” list, but very few have a “don’t do” list.  A “don’t do” list is a list of tasks that will take your time, but not add much value to your life.  By removing things or delegating tasks to others, you create more time for the tasks that are most important in helping you reach your goals.

So, this year, employ my Top 6 Productivity Hacks for 2017.  You’ll be more productive, have more time with the people who are most important to you, and have less stress.

ACTION STEP:  Choose one or two hacks from the list above and begin using them RIGHT NOW!

Do You Know Your APEST Score?

APEST Test

Much has been written on the subject of spiritual gifts and their importance in the ministry of the church.  In recent days I have been reflecting on the fact that there are essentially two distinct types of spiritual gifts:  serving and equipping.  The serving gifts are used for service in the kingdom (i.e. hospitality, mercy, serving, faith, etc.), while five of the gifts listed in the Bible in Ephesians 4 are specifically for the purpose of “equipping God’s people for service.”

In his blog, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch puts forward the idea that the church leader needs to know their APEST score to better understand how God has gifted them to lead in the church.  APEST is his term based upon the 5 ministry roles found in Ephesians 4:  Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers.

On his blog, Hirsch has created a test to enable you to discover how these five roles influence your leadership and role in ministry.    This is a great test to understand your leadership role.  Hirsch also puts for the idea that we are missing the apostolic and prophetic leadership roles in our current expression of the church.  In an article published in Christianity Today, Hirsch writes “We needed a new type of leadership, one with the courage to question the status quo, to dream of new possibilities, and to innovate new ways of being the people of God in a post-Christian culture.”  To be that kind of a leader, we need to first know who we are as a unique creation of God.  The more a pastor or church leader knows about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, the better a leader they become and the more effective they become in leading Christ’s church.

Previously, I had written a post entitled 4 Things Every Pastor and Church Leader Should Know About Themselves.  To that list, I add the APEST score.  It was interesting for me to note that the results of my personal APEST score fell right in line with the results of my other profiles that I mentioned in my “4 Things” post.  Together, these five profiles give a great understanding of how God has wired you for ministry.

Learn first who you are.  Then, lead as God has created you to lead!

5 Steps to Getting Things Done in 2015

Getting Things Done

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate your life and your goals.  It’s the time when we make new commitments to change certain things about our lives.  We call them resolutions – and they usually don’t last through the end of the month!

But, what if there was just one tool that we could implement in our lives that would make us more productive this year and the remainder of our lives?  Well, the good news is that such a tool exists.  It is a system created by author and speaker David Allen.  It’s known as Getting Things Done, or GTD.

If I could only recommend one book to read in the area of productivity, this is it – Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.  By learning and implementing the principles taught in this book, your level of productivity WILL greatly increase.  As pastors and church leaders whose jobs are never finished, this book is a game changer.

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