Archives For Kingly Administration

Last week, I shared 13 productivity tools and apps that I use on a daily basis. In addition to these, there are other tools and apps I employ on a semi-regular basis. Depending on the nature of the work, these apps and tools are accessed in varying degrees. I figured they would be worth mentioning as a good supplement to my previous post.

Mailchimp3 - BlogMailChimp – This is my default tool for e-newsletters and announcements online. Very intuitive and more customizable than others (e.g., Constant Contact). For each purpose, a template is created by the design team which can populated repeatedly in a rather efficient manner. The import and export features are also helpful.

Wufoo - BlogWufoo – If you need online forms and need something more functional and customizable than Google Forms, than Wufoo is the way to go. I use Wufoo for general feedback, conference registrations, mission trip applications, network agreements, and just about anything else I can think of. Along with Wufoo, Survey Monkey (by the same company) is a helpful tool for doing online polling.

TripIt3 - BlogTripIt – There are several quality apps for managing your travel. I have chosen to go with TripIt over the past year and have found it really helpful. The app syncs across all iOS devices and allows me to update the plans rather effortlessly. Flight information includes various details, such as confirmation number, flight times, map of terminals, and status. When traveling with several people, the trips can be shared with others as well.

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Recently, I asked folks in my social networks about their favorite productivity tools and apps. Instead of mentioning mine, I decided to go with this post, which I’ve been meaning to write for some time. I do not consider myself a productivity expert, but I do like working hard and smart at the same time.

So how do I get things done? Here are my primary productivity tools and apps, meaning I use these on a daily basis. Note: there are others I’m exploring, and this list is likely to will change in the future. However, here’s the list as it stands at this moment.

Tools & Apps I Use on a Daily Basis

Dropbox - BlogDropbox – I started using Dropbox several years ago and have loved the ability to share files with dozens of people. I have used it in various ways, from working with teams, to sharing images from mission trips, to providing public folders for folks interested in my research and writing. Most recently, I decided to make Dropbox my primary file storage and management center, meaning I now save very little (if anything) on my laptop anymore. By saving everything to my Dropbox, I can access the files from my iPad and iPhone at any time. Lastly, I use Dropbox to back up photos from my D-SLR as well as iPhone, providing a centralized storage place for all my images.

basecamp - blogBasecamp – The majority of my work is decentralized, so collaboration is key. The best collaboration tool I’ve used is Basecamp, which allows me to manage 10 projects at a time (I currently manage six). I get a daily briefing on all activity, and Basecamp centralizes discussion threads, task lists (with delegation assignments and deadlines), file uploading, and project scheduling. I’ve used Basecamp for everything including launching a website to planning conferences to starting group blogs to organizing mission trips. AND, most recently, Basecamp launched their own iOS app, bringing all this collaboration goodness to the iPhone and iPad.

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CommunicationI’ve been in a situation in life here lately where it has been necessary to develop a communication strategy online and offline. In the past, I have not given much thought to how I communicate with other people. Now leading a resourcing network for church planting, a missions collective for Haiti, and pastoring a church–I have come to really appreciate effective and thoughtful communication.  Here’s basically what I’m learning to do.

There are three levels of communication I have with people on a regular basis. The first level is the micro level. That’s the daily chatter and conversation about details, requests, etc. Typically, this level of communication does not need to be recorded or archived. Rather, it is communication for quick and immediate response in the rhythm of the workday. The second level is the mono level. That’s the one-on-one communication about actionable matters of various levels of significance. Typically, this kind of correspondence has requests that need to be filled, questions to be answered, plans to be executed, etc., and therefore archiving and retrieving such correspondence is helpful if not necessary. The third level is the multi level. That’s the communication with multiple people in the collaboration process. On this level, you are taking in feedback and interaction from several sources at one time in one setting.

These three levels are worked out through different platforms/formats whether offline and online.

Communication StrategyFor offline communication on a micro level, I rely on text messaging. At this level, communication does not warrant a phone call or lengthy communication. It is intended for immediate feedback. On a mono level offline, I rely on telephone calls. The difference between the two levels are significant, because if something requires a phone call to be addressed is attempted to be covered via text, a lot of time is wasted in the process. However, if you care constantly calling someone about something that can be addressed over a text, that can create a frustrating work experience. You have to make judgments between the two and have operating agreements with your team. On the multi level offline, there’s scheduled meetings. These are structured times of collaborating with multiple people with a set agenda (talking points).

For online communication on a micro level, I rely on instant messaging (via Gmail) and direct messaging (via Twitter). I almost always have at least 2-3 IM tabs at the bottom of my Gmail with ongoing chatter about little matters that need immediate attention (changes, scheduling, updates, etc.). My online mono level is email. Again, like offline communication, this can be problematic. I don’t want a cluttered up inbox of emails that could have been instant messages or group emails that so often are strung around with the infamous “reply all” option on matters I’m often tangentially involved in. Emails can be a horrible medium for collaborative communication, which leads to the multi level online, namely video conferencing. If I am meeting with more than one person online, then I use Skype, Google Hangout, ooVoo, or GoToMeeting to forward projects, plan events/trips, discuss initiatives, etc.

For some time, I had been operating like this without fully recognizing it. Now that I see it, it has become all the more clear in learning to communicate better using formats/platforms appropriate to the level of correspondence. In my case, I work in a highly decentralized environment where online communication is 65% and offline communication is 35%. It may be the opposite (or some other breakdown) for you. Either way, know where you communicate most often and how you proceed to do so in the future may prove very beneficial down the road.

Have you developed a communication strategy for online or offline? What have you found that works best for you and those you work with? I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

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I found myself this weekend at a juncture where the majority of my time was mapping out a multiplicity of things–from personal planning to discipleship investments to book proposals. Rarely do I mention mind mapping on Twitter that I do not get several folks asking about what program(s) I use and how I utilize them.  I’m sure there’s more of a science to them than what I employ, but I nevertheless have greatly benefited from the mental exercises of visual information dumping and creative brainstorming.

Last weekend, I posted a twitpic with this status update about some personal planning I’ve been doing lately. I use iThoughtsHD for my iPad to do all my mind mapping. Currently, I have approximately 40 mind maps (going back almost a year).  The cool thing about iThoughtsHD is that you can export the maps anywhere, including email (PDF), camera roll, dropbox, cloud, or over various apps and devices.

Personal Planning

I just recently completed some major projects, including 2012 Band of Bloggers, South Florida Regional Training Event for PLNTD, and a major relocation (and replanting) of Grace Baptist. To bring clarify, focus, alignment, and clear directives, I use mind mapping as a means of untangling the web of thoughts that exist in my brain.

The four primary areas I now employ for planning my personal life are (in Baptist alliterative style):

1. Renewal – what I need for vital spiritual health (prayer, Word, Gospel, meditation, etc.)

2. Rhythms – disciplines I employ on a regular basis (reading, writing, exercising, discipling)

3. Roles – priorities that bring balance, accountability, and filters for how I spend my time, energy, etc.

4. Responsibilities – primary areas where I use my gifts and abilities in ministry

What I’ve come to find is that everyday we live, all four aspects of personal planning should intentionally forming how I spend my day and week.  Obviously, there is a lot of overlap.  The point of this exercise is to be rigorously intentional to invest my life well in the areas God deems most important and to conform my life according to God’s revealed will for my life. A life well lived necessarily includes a day well ordered.  Roles dictates my priorities. Responsibilities govern the stewardship of my time, energy, and gifts. Rhythms are incorporated disciplines to leverage the margin in my life. And renewal is all about “keeping the heart” and stoking the flame of affections for God, His glory, His people, and His mission.

D0 you have an approach for planning your personal life and ordered your day? Do you use any tools such as mind mapping apps or other means of accomplishing your goals?  I’d love to hear them!

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Previous posts on disciple-making in “kingly” administration series:
» Disciple-Making Structures
» Disciple-Making Venues

The goal of discipleship is not only maturity and growth, but exercising gifts while being equipped for ministry.  Delegation is an art, and those in leadership responsible for the decentralization of the mission need to not only be competent in the work of delegating but effective in training others as well.

Delegation can be a challenge for several reasons.  You can be a perfectionist (like me) and have a standard of excellence and thoroughness that makes it difficult for those just getting started.  When an opportunity to serve or minister is executed poorly, time and energy are required to teach and train, which seems more taxing than simply doing it yourself (sometimes you not only have to do this but also correct what was done!).  A commitment to making disciples and training them for service is a messy job, and it becomes even messier when the communication lines and expectations of the delegation process are not clear.

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