Productivity tools, systems and processes

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“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”-–Paul J. Meyer.

I heard this statement that comes from the Economic Policy Institute.

Since the early 1970s, productivity (the amount of output per hour worked) has risen in America. Between 1973 and 2011, the productivity of the American worker has grown 80 percent. Why? My opinion, because we’re finding new tools and techniques to increase our focus and efficiency.

Below are some ideas and tools I have discovered over time that people I would say are productive have repeatedly talked about using. I believe I can learn a lot form people and their habits, tools they choose to use, their processes and the reason why they do and use what they do. So in the following, I have come to use many of the same and investigating using some others.

Police Your Own Internet Habits.
There’s a tool called StayFocusd to keep track of how much time you spend on various sites. I have a tendency to begin researching something online for a sermon I am preparing with the very best of intentions and then get lost viewing irrelevant content and wasting way too much time. To limit this, I turn on the browser extension to Chrome of StayFocusd where I keep up a list of sites I can get lost on for hours–YouTube, Ted Talks and Facebook are mine. StayFocusd alerts me after a pre-determined time that I have set up has passed and then blocks the offending sites to help me resist temptation and stay focused on the task at hand. Another tool I will mention before leaving this part is RescueTime which I have a post previously about this. This is a tool worth checking out as well.

Clear Your Mind, Define Your Focus
Wendy Lea, CEO of getting Satisfaction and principal at The Chatham Group, shared two tips that keep her focused, energized, effective and productive both personally and professionally. “There are two things I do to get the energy, capacity, and focus I need to not only be efficient, but effective. Personally, I take 15 minutes every morning for contemplation and to empty my mind. I take a bag full of thoughts I need to be cleared and each morning I pick one out, read it, and send it down the river near my house. Watching the thought float away really helps clear my mind, reorient things and increase my focus for the rest of the day,” said Lea, who successfully juggles several roles across various companies including CEO, investor, advisor, mentor, and principal.

“Professionally,” Lea added, “I send an email to my team each Monday morning with the top five things I will be focused on for the week. This really keeps me on track and gives me the focus I need. These two things set the pace for me every day, both in my personal and professional life.”

Cut Back On Meetings
Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), said he keeps productive by being diligent about meetings–sticking to the allotted time and only scheduling in-person meetings when it’s absolutely necessary. “I leave meetings at their allotted end time regardless of whether they are finished,” said Komisar, who authored the book, Getting to Plan B: Breaking Through to a Better Business Model. “I do not reschedule an appointment for a more important one unless it is an emergency. If an email will do, I don’t make a call; if a call will do, I don’t have a meeting; if a 30-minute meeting is enough, I don’t schedule an hour.”

All About Evernote
Dylan Tweney, the executive editor at VentureBeat, said Evernote, the popular note-taking and archiving service, is his go-to productivity tool. “I use Evernote to collect everything I might need to save for later, with the exception of emails–Gmail is fine for that. I store all of my important documents–from notes to interviews–in Evernote. I also use Evernote tags as a kind of to-do list: I have a set of tags that I can use to rank things that need to happen immediately or that I’m waiting for someone else to finish: (“1-next,” “2-soon,” “3-later,” “4-someday,” and “5-waiting”). When I get an email that I need to act on but can’t respond to immediately, I send it to my private Evernote address and then rank it,” said Tweney. “Finally, I use Instapaper liberally to save articles that I run across during the day, but don’t have time to read during the busy hours. It sends stories to my Kindle automatically, so I always have something interesting to read on the train ride home or in the evening. That helps keep me focused on work, even when people are sharing fascinating things on Twitter and Facebook all day.”

Get Tunnel Vision
Kevin O’Connor, the serial entrepreneur who founded both DoubleClick and more recently FindTheBest, a data-driven comparison engine, said he makes an effort to focus on only the top few things that really are going to move the needle. “Most people tend to focus on the 100 things they should do, which can be overwhelming and result in the failure to actually accomplishing anything of importance. I try to focus on the three to five things I absolutely have to do. I don’t get distracted by those ninety-seven other unimportant things that don’t ultimately give to my success or the success of my company.”

Get Physical
Patrick Dolan, the EVP and COO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), said what keeps him productive, focused and energized is going for runs in the morning. “I love to run in the morning before I get into work. Running clears my mind, gets the blood flowing and ultimately makes me much more focused and productive. During my morning runs, I try to come up with solutions to any unresolved problems at work, brainstorm new ideas, and really prioritize my work in terms of the top things I want to carry out that day. By the time I get into work, I already have a set of focused priorities, and I also have the energy to make them happen.”

Put Email In Its Place
Anne-Marie Slaugher, a professor of politics and international relations at Princeton University and author of the popular article published last year in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” said basing your work day around the never-ending flow of incoming emails is a huge productivity drain. “My principal productivity tip is that if you are caught up on your email, your priorities are in the wrong place. An extra of hour of email will do very little in the long run, but that hour could be spent reading to your kids before bed, cooking a meal, or taking a walk and clearing your head–all far better choices,” said Slaughter, who previously served as Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department. “More generally, email puts you in response mode, where you are doing what other people want you to do, and not send mode, where you are deciding what you want to do and taking action.”

How to set goals isn’t as bad as you think

Goal setting

Every year seems to progress quicker and quicker to me. I’m not sure if it is because I am getting older and realizing there is so much more I want to do and accomplish before I can no longer do and accomplish my goals here on earth? This quickness is the reason it is so important that we set goals for what you want to carry out, now. What follows will be ways that I follow when I set goals.

Start with the right Objectives and Key Results

Enjoy this TED talk where John Doerr shares about OKR.

Objective and Key results (OKR)

So now that you have some fundamentals to start with, the “Why” of what you want to do. Write down your values, your objectives, and key results today as you continue to go through this blog, keep all of this in the forefront.

Start with the end in mind.

I think it is important to start with your end picture, the “Why” of what you want and where you are going. Once I have the end picture, I start just 5 years out. Then I move my picture to 3 years out, then 1 year out and lastly 3 months out.

Be realistic.

Be ambitious because it is a goal after all but still realistic. If you are a ministry of 100 and set your goal to be 1000 in a year, that is not realistic. Being realistic helps you during the journey to stay encouraged and fight that discouragement off that happens so easily during life and ministry.

Re-evaluate and revisit.

Just because you set your goals, doesn’t mean that 5-6 months down the road you won’t be swamped with life and ministry or work. There was a study done by the University of Scranton that says 25% of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first week, and another 1/3 don’t even las a month! Lastly, only 8% make it all year long. Knowing this, I put a date in the calendar 2 weeks down the road to alert me to re-evaluate how am I doing with the goals that I wanted to carry out. I will revisit each goal to see that it is still as important to me as it was once before when I set it as a goal.

4 Key Components to help Your Goals to Last.

Developing your Leadership Skills will require you to be good at making and setting goals. So here are 5 Components to help you in developing this leadership skill.

  1. Know that there is a Genuine Possibility. 
    • We have to believe we can do it or we will fail.
    • It is reported that those in their 20’s (39%) will accomplish more than someone in their 50’s (14%). A big driving factor in this is those who are older replay their failures over all the years rather than someone in their 20’s with not as many years of failures to draw upon.
    • Take ones limiting belief, “I’m too old”, with “it is never too late”, a possibility belief. Another limiting belief, “I can’t change”, with “I can learn and grow”.
  2. A Fresh Start
  3. Have an Effective Design
    1. Stop setting goals like – “Lose weight”. That is just too wide. This type lacks accountability, has no deadline etc. It is ineffective!
    2. Instead of saying, I will take a vacation this year, change it to I will go to Hawaii within 6 months from now.  Take them from being an aspiration to being something that is actionable.
    3. Use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R, system.
      • Specific. Measurable and include a number when you can.
      • Measurable
      • Actionable. Starts with a verb.
      • Risky. Out of our comfort zone but not delusional.
        • You see, it’s the risk involved in your goals that drive the results and compels the creative energy necessary to accomplish your objective.

          There is a linear relationship between the degree of goal difficulty and performance.” — Edwin A. Locke & Gary P. Latham

          You see, looking over the results of over 400 studies, two men named Edwin and Gary observed that the performance of participants with the riskiest goals was 250% higher than those with the less risky goals. In short, when we are presented with a challenge, we as human beings always tend to rise to the occasion but take away the challenge, and we naturally fall back to our default of “taking it easy.”

      • Time Key. This is when you assign a date.
      • Exciting. If it doesn’t rev you up you probably won’t stay with it over the long haul. It becomes a project and not a goal. A project isn’t exciting it just needs to be done.
      • Relevant. Is it relevant to the season of my life at this time?
        • If we’re going to succeed, we need goals that align with the legitimate demands and needs of our lives.” — Michael Hyatt
    4. Intrinsic motivation (an internal motivation). 
      • Example of a more compelling goal:
        • I want to get in shape. Instead

Allow me to recommend a book titled: Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I recommend this book as you prepare to set your goals because too often people set way too many goals and never fully reach any of them but instead have a ton of half started goals.

If you want to share, please add some of your goals that meet this framework here in the comments section. So do away from those New Years resolutions and commit to a system that will help you to accomplish your goals.

Build Leadership Skills Online

If you are at an important moment in your development and growth as a leader, you can build leadership skills online through coaching which can help bring clarity and focus to where you are and help you discern what might be next. 

Benefits of Coaching Online

We live in a fortunate time where we have access to the internet which makes coaching to build leadership skills even more accessible. Here are some quick ways that Coaching online is beneficial.

  • Lower cost. Due to the coach also reaps the benefits as the coachee with travel expenses, food, hotel and more, so they can charge less. 
  • The flexibility of scheduling. 
  • Saves on gas for the car. No travel necessary. 
  • Can Worldwide Access. Most of us don’t think about accessing professional help outside our local area but with online coaching, you have access locally, nationally, and internationally. 
  • Face to face coaching is still possible. Most of us are now quite accustomed to talking to our friends and loved ones via Skype or FaceTime and so the transition to talking to a coach online is not as foreign as we may think.

Types of Online Coaching

Coaching to me is an ongoing conversation in which I come alongside you to help you understand and fulfill your vision, overcome obstacles and tackle the issues keeping you up at night using powerful questions and proven solutions. 

Building Leadership skills online can be done in several ways. Here are the ways I have been trained in and have experienced incredible success in and would love for you to have the same experience. 

  • Specific Min-Conference. (This can be over jobs, life, or ministry. You pick).
    • Training Sessions last for 1 hour and consists of…
    • 40 minutes of live teaching with Todd over the topics you previously sent.  
    • 20 minutes of Q & A with Todd to make sure all questions have been answered
    • A PDF of all the resources used. Potential of having access to a private web page that is loaded with resources to use after mini-conference. 
    • Follow-up phone call and customized next steps for you and your team after you have had a chance to think about all that was shared during the online training. How often can you say that once you left a conference.
  • Niche – Kidology Children/Youth Ministry. 
    • Twelve unit curriculum that covers twenty-six foundational areas of ministry.
    • Bi-weekly video calls
    • Dropbox access to all resources as you complete them.
    • Certificate when all units have been accomplished. 
  • Niche – Wealthy Affiliate Website and affiliate platform building
    • Website builder
    • A community of 1,400,000+ of like-minded people co-coaching one anothe
    • Video training
    • Transform your ideas into profits
  • Leader Breakthru. For entrepreneurs, career change, next level of development, need of greater focus,  
    • IDENTIFY your needs and core desires
      DISCOVER the issues and challenges surrounding your presenting issue
      EVALUATE how God is at work and pinpoint the root issue you’re facing
      ACT on the insight by developing strategic actions steps for you to take

Here is one last one I’ll add here because Brandon Cox who is the creator of DigitalLeadershipLab.com and was my personal coach as well would be a fantastic coach for anyone. Brandon will do one to one coaching or join his Digital Leadership Lab site.

Here are his own words describing why the Digital Leadership Lab: “The Digital Leadership Lab has been years in the making in my head. I’ve always longed for an outlet to share knowledge with people in leadership about how to utilize media, marketing, and technology to enhance their effectiveness, expand their influence, and earn more income along the way“.  

When a leader grows, the world gets better. I believe good coaching pays for itself many times over, and that’s why I pay for good coaching myself. 

In fact, there’s a greater cost in not being coached and staying stuck! That’s why I’ll say, if you don’t get coaching from me, get it somewhere!

What’s Next?

Here’s what I’d love to do if you think building leadership skills online is for you. Send an email  (toddmckeever@gmail.com) to me telling me about your interest and what coaching package is best for you. Add in the subject line: “Coaching” so I know it is not spam. I’ll reach back out and we can schedule a free half hour session to talk about your vision and how coaching can help you fulfill it!

Wealthy Affiliate Models Good Leadership Skill of Coaching

Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of the web sites name: Wealthy Affiliate. What I am a fan of is Wealthy Affiliate.

I joined for free WA from the recommendation of a past ministry coach of mine, Brandon Cox. I knew it was going to be a great adventure in helping me create my digital platform, voice as an expert in developing Leadership Skills. What I was not prepared for are all the additional lessons I was going to pick up as WA modeled good leadership skills of coaching me and the community in WA in helping each of our goals to become a reality.

This example and the journey is what I am looking forward to taking you with me through this post. Please enjoy and CLICK Here if you want to begin your own journey and experience in reaching your goals.

Desiring to start a journey

I always wanted to grow and Develop Leadership Skills to help me in helping others. I have attended more conferences and if truth be told, the amount of money that has been spent on the travel, conference, food, resources while at the conference could be added up over the past 27 years, I could probably buy my own private island with a full staff.

One vehicle that began to become more noticeable by me over time was obviously the internet. So I started reading and investing money into learning how the internet may be able to help me develop my leadership skills and reach more people through this platform. Now, I could probably buy my next island on the money spent in this direction.

This desire still drove me and motivated me in all my waking moments. If I could only capitalize on the internet and my desire for developing my leadership skills so I could help others be all that God was calling them to be. The people we could reach and the Kingdom impact we could have if we could truly help develop more leaders to lead the charge was awe-inspiring to me.

Being Pushed Out of the Boat – Being Laid Off

Over the incredible 27+ years that God allowed me to be in full-time ministry and serve Him words could not be assembled to express my gratitude. I have met some of the greatest people in ministry and who are the congregation members of churches we had the privilege of pastoring. It is through developing my leadership skills and watching each of these people grow and become who God wanted them to be that kept adding that fuel to my fire.

Who would have thought that the thing that was going to end up motivating me more than anything else was going to be getting laid off from a small church that we moved to and were there for only 4 years. I started as the children pastor and ended up being the pastor of ministry and operations overseeing more ministries and volunteers than any other department in the church.

Then it happened. The church hit some financial struggles and that is when I got pushed out of the boat. My wife and I were laid off the same day and our whole family lost our income in one moment. See my wife was the church admin.

Finding a Way To Float From The Wreckage

Developing leadership Skills can be some of your last thoughts after being pushed out of a boat like this, but it can be the very thing you need to do to stay afloat. I have been always at the top of my game in the profession that God has called me to over those 27+ years. That very thought was some of the hardest thoughts to come to grips with when this all happened. It created so many waves in my thoughts and anger and junk.

I was going to sink if I stayed with this line of thinking. I was not leading myself very well at this time and so I couldn’t be a great leader for anyone else either but that didn’t change the message and desire I had to help others develop leadership skills that would help them be all that God had called them to be and do. Good stuff from this wreckage would have to be found to help me to float during this difficult season.

Wealthy Affiliate Showed Me How To Swim Again

This is where one of my past ministry coaches came in, Brandon Cox. Brandon had emailed out with a link to WA and I was in desperate need to start earning more money to support my family than my sales manager job I had picked up was able to provide.

I went ahead and clicked on a link like this one: Wealthy Affiliate and started an incredible journey that was going to pay more than I could ever have pictured. I began taking free video coaching sessions on developing a niche, building a website (even with no prior knowledge of how to do this), word searches, being part of a community of thousands and thousands who really were ready to talk and help in any way that I had questions over.

This is when all the dots began to be connected for me. Wealthy Affiliate was so successful because it was doing exactly what I was trained to do over all those years. Allow people to have a voice in the direction they want to go, set them up for success, position them in their passions, provide coaching with feedback, keep things simple and clear, create award systems and built-in recognition of accomplishments. This is what wealthy Affiliate does in everything they do.

Good Leadership Skill – Coaching

Successful Coaching example from Wealthy Affiliate was truly the reminder that all wasn’t lost and to remind me of a successful model for coaching. I am now swimming and learning my leadership skills even more. The difference is that since joining WA I now have a better knowledge of how to use the platform of my blog to help others develop leadership skills of their own.

Invest a little time yourself and go look at Wealthy Affiliate and see what journey you may discover for yourself or be reminded of. Check it out here: Wealthy Affiliate.

 

 

 

 

Discovering Advantages eBooks Have.

I have always enjoyed reading. Reading for me is therapeutic, enjoyable, adventurous, challenging in helping me improve skills and so much more. Often times I want to pull out a book and re-read it for some of the great nuggets I received from it. Problem is, I may not be around that certain book at the time. Maybe, I am waiting in line for the doctor or my kids to get out of school and want to feed my mind but I didn’t bring a book. This is where the advantages ebooks have in my reading. They can go everywhere with me!

Advantages eBooks have to me.

I have gone almost totally with ebooks for many reasons. Here are just a few of those reasons.
– I can take them anywhere without the extra weight and cumbersome of real paper books.
– I have them with me regardless if I have just my MacBook Pro, iPhone, or iPad.
– With the Kindle app, I no longer need to type up the nuggets that I underline in my books and file them away. Instead, Kindle does it for me and I can pull them from where ever I am through my Amazon account.
– I can share books with others, and not worry about them getting ruined or lost.
– I can move all my thoughts and ideas that I make note of in each ebook, and file them away in what I call my digital brain: Evernote.
– I can share in twitter and Facebook nuggets and thoughts from each book with just a click or two.

I am sure if I thought about it, I would discover many more reasons.

eBook reading strategy

With almost any book today having a digital copy and paper version I have discovered a reading strategy that works for me. I do still enjoy the feel of the paper in between my fingers and who doesn’t love the smell of a good paper book. I also do still enjoy sitting down and reading a good paper book with a cup (or two or three) in my hand while I read about how I can develop the 5 Leadership Skills to become a successful leader.

So my strategy to feed my paper book fetish and my practical, convenient reading side involve both.

Since all books are usually cheaper in the digital version that is how I start when I buy them. This allows me to save money on those books that are not as good as I was hoping but allows me to spend little on great books and the years of experience that I gain from each author.

Advantage eBooks have also according to my wife is that I don’t use all the shelf space in our house on my books alone. Moving is not as difficult either.

Now that I own the ebook and I have read it, if it is a great book then I will go and purchase the paper version as well. Great books are books that I enjoy reading yearly, like Peter Drucker’s book titled The Effective Executive or any of John Maxwell’s books like the 5 Levels of leadership. These are books that I have both electronic and in a paper version. I read these books every year like clockwork because they are filled with that many nuggets for me.

Reading books with this simple but very cost effective method saves me not only money but, having to take as many trips to second-hand bookstores to donate books that I didn’t receive as much value as I wanted from them. Not to mention the frustration that you suffer when you spend so much money on a book to only be disappointed that the title of the book was worth more than the content inside the book.

eBooks on my current reading list

Click on any of these if you would like to read these ebooks yourself.

1. Think in Systems

2. Talent Wins

3. Team of teams.  New Rules of Engagement  for a complex world

4. Leadership Coaching. Tony Stoltzfus

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

It is my hope that through this post you are discovering the advantages of ebooks. You have possibly learned a new system of reading books that will be more economical for you and give you access to all the great teaching you get from your books just right at your fingertips.

Any other eBooks you would recommend for me or this community to read? Why are you recommending this book?