Archives For Work

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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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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My Panera “Office”

Tim Brister —  March 21, 2011 — 5 Comments

I’ve enjoyed the feedback and discussion my recent post on the the places and purposes of my work.  I hope it was helpful for you.  Several of the questions were related to my work experience and environment at Panera.  So this morning, I decided to take a picture of my typical setup and show you what my “office” looks like.

For notes on the pictures, please click through to my Flickr page.

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This past week, we at Grace “parked the Great Commission” again, and included in that effort was going door-to-door, inviting neighbors to join us for a picnic and games in the park.  When I got back, I tweeted:

For those who don’t believe in going door-to-door, 2nite my group was 19 for 19 in engaging folks w/ invitations. Don’t abandon 1st spaces.

What happened after that was about a dozen conversations debating the merits of door-to-door evangelism in a post-Christian culture and what in the world I meant by “1st spaces.” What I would like to do is explain the thinking behind the places/spaces and how we can think intentionally/missionally in redeeming each place for the advancement of the gospel.

What Is a “Third Place”?

As I understand it, Ray Oldenberg developed the idea of “third places” in his book The Great Good Place. Third places are places or environments where people in the community interact with one another outside the first and second places.  The first place is that of the home, and the second place is that of a person’s workplace.  Oldenberg explains that “third places” are

“anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. . . .  These hallmarks of a true “third place”: free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there.

Popular “third places” include coffee shops (such as Starbucks), malls, city parks, exercise facilities, restaurants/pubs, and venues for the arts/entertainment.  Personally speaking, Panera Bread has become my dominant “third place” as I spend approximately 15-20 hours of my work week there.

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