I’m a to-do list maker. I write out what I have to do for work, I jot down my shopping list, and I make lists of goals and never-really-going-to-happen projects. After I finish, I need a list of my lists!
For most of us, our lives have multiple projects going on simultaneously. Along with work, our ministries, families, and friends require a lot from us. Keeping everything straight and getting everything done can be challenging.
I recently started using the program Nozbe to capture all of my to-do’s. The best part of digital system is the ability to manage many different projects all within in one larger list. It’s easy, too.
Here’s how it works:
Some of my lists include projects for my work, a list of household to-do’s (bills to pay, returns to make, etc), and a list I call “Someday-Maybe” – a list of things I want to remember next time I have some extra time.
Within each project, you can add tasks. Nozbe makes it easy to quickly add the specific steps for each project. For example, in my life project, I have a list of calls I need to make and specific appointments to make.
Track Due Dates
On each task, you can note when the project is due. Also, you can specify if the project is reoccurring. This option is helpful for work, as I do certain tasks each week, and Nozbe adds these tasks each week to my list. Also Nozbe can remind you of tasks that only surface every few months (e.g. oil changed, quarterly newsletter, etc).
Check ‘em Off
I bet we’re all guilty of adding something to our to-do list just to cross it off, right? When you complete a task with Nozbe, you get the joy of checking it off and seeing the task archived.
There are countless other ways to utilize Nozbe by adding tags, context, and utilizing the mobile app. But, the important thing is having one consistent place to capture all of your tasks.
Try the free version of Nozbe here. You can set up your new to-do lists in minutes!
Question: How do you manage your to-do lists?
I don’t have a graphic design background, but I do know images are important for grabbing viewers’ attention. Having an image is helpful and in many cases essential to promoting events and sharing information. Spending just a few minutes on Facebook or Pinterest will confirm that we consume a large portion of information through images.
However, many of us don’t have a graphic designer on staff for our ministries and we may not be familiar with programs like Photoshop. Photoshop is a great program to create images, but it can be challenging to navigate.
Let me introduce you to PicMonkey. This free online resource allows you to do simple photo editing and makes adding text to photos incredibly easy. There is no download. You simply use their website to edit your pictures.
For example, if you’re promoting your upcoming women’s retreat, you could share a photo from last year and overlay the date, time, and other registration information on top of the photo. Or, when you share a blog post, you could put the title of the blog post over a photo to draw attention. The photo on the left was created just for that purpose; it used in a blog post.
PicMonkey is easy to learn and the free version offers many options to customize photos, create collages, and add text.
Question: How do you create visuals to promote your events?
I rarely carry cash in my wallet. Instead, I daily use my debit card. How about you?
Over the past few years, there has been a transition toward using credit and debit cards instead of cash. So, one question we should consider in our ministries is, how should we accept payment for events? Our goal is always to make it convenient for others to register and participate.
Accepting debit and credit card payments for events, registration, and fundraisers used to require a credit card machine, and if you’ve used one, you know credit card machines can be fickle. Anyone ever battled a paper receipt roll? They’re not friendly!
Our ministry has transitioned to taking payment with a Square Register. We use the Square at the registration table at our events and at our book and product tables.
The Square Register functions like a regular card reader and accepts payments through an Apple iOs or Android device. The payments are processed and deposited into your account within 1-2 days.
The Square Register is small, easy to transport and plugs into the headphone jack on a smart phone or tablet.
To receive payment, simply enter the payment amount, swipe the credit/debit card, and get the customer’s signature (done so with customer’s finger). An optional receipt can be sent via text or email.
There is a flat rate of 2.75% for all received payments, and there are no monthly fees.
As you plan the registration process and product sales for your upcoming event, consider how you can make the process smooth and most convenient for the women in your ministry. Perhaps it’s time to evaluate how you accept payment. You can read more about setting up the Square Register here.
Question: How do you accept payment at your events?
It’s time to put the finishing touches on your year-end newsletter. You’ve spent weeks compiling stories, updates, and event reports to send to your women’s ministry. Since the newsletter is a highlight for the women, you email your working draft to several women to hear their feedback and see what edits they’d recommend. You want to ensure you included the highlights as well as have a few extra eyes watch for typos.
Seems like a good plan, right?
Each woman reads the newsletter, has lots of feedback, ideas, and edits, and they make the changes, attach the document to the email and send it back to you. All of the sudden, you have 5 different drafts of the same document, and comparing them is like an awful type of word puzzle. Talk about brain overload!
Can you relate? I’m sure you can.
In our ministry, our goal is to always have several people look over outgoing content. Sometimes we cannot see our own errors after working with our content for so long. A fresh perspective is always helpful. However, having so many hands in a project can complicate.
When collaborating on a project, Googledocs can help alleviate some of the confusion. Instead of emailing different drafts between the group, everyone can work on a single document and see the changes others are making.
We’ve found Googledocs simplifies – especially when our whole team doesn’t work in the same office. Have you ever used Googledocs? If not, here’s a quick introduction. All you need is a free google account to get started.
We can always learn from the edits others make on our writing, and Googledocs collaboration feature allows editing to be done in an efficient way. Here’s a Youtube video introducing how to collaborate using Googledocs:
Question: How do you handle editing and proofreading in your ministry?
Here on the Women’s Ministry blog I usually share with you resources and tools to help you as you serve in ministry. However, sometimes the best thing we can do is to close the apps, silence our phones, and put our gadgets away.
The very tools and applications that promise simplicity can sometimes create more clutter than peace.
This afternoon I’m taking time to evaluate the clutter in my life – and specifically the clutter on my phone. Here are a few questions I’m asking myself. Will you join me?
What notifications do you truly need?
Imagine working at your desk, and just as you begin your day, a coworker taps you on the shoulder. She shows you a picture of her family, which you’re happy to see. She leaves, and a few minutes later she comes back in your office and tells you about what she saw on the news. She leaves and you get back to work until she interrupts again to tell you about her evening plans. You enjoy your friend and like her updates, but with her constant interruption, you aren’t able to get anything done!
Alerts on our phones are like that persistent co-worker who just wants to chat. While you might enjoy the notifications and the information, is the information worth the constant interruption? Consider the alerts that interrupt you throughout your day. Can you turn off news and weather alerts? Do you really need email notifications? Can you silence GroupMe and prevent social media notifications from popping up throughout the day? What other interruptions can you minimize?
What applications do you truly need?
My favorite candy is chocolate covered orange peels. Have you ever had them? Oh goodness. They are so good that I cannot buy them, or I eat them all! It’s just too tempting. Having social media applications on my phone is like setting my favorite chocolate in front of me and saying don’t eat!
We don’t want to be distracted by social media, but when we have constant access to it – be it on our phones or computers – we can find ourselves distracted. With social media glued to our hands in the form of our phones, it’s as if social media is always asking for more attention.
After reading an article about the “Distraction Free Iphone,” I deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from my phone. If needed, I can open the webpages in my browser, but the extra effort makes me aware of how I don’t really need to be on Facebook. I had no idea how much time I wasted scrolling through the same old posts – instead of actually texting and calling friends and family directly.
Removing the applications from my phone is like hiding the chocolate! When I don’t see it, it’s so much easier to say no! Take a few minutes and consider what notifications and applications you need on your phone.
We can stretch our time, boost our energy, and increase our focus by minimizing distractions. This newfound time, energy, and focus can then be poured back into our ministry. If you don’t want to eat the chocolate – hide it!
Question: Do you get distracted by your phone? How do you minimize distractions?
Have you ever wished memorizing Scripture could be as easy as memorizing your favorite song? I know I have! I pick up the lyrics to country songs much quicker than I am able to memorize Scripture. Many times I think I’ve finally memorized a passage, and then the next day, I have to start all over again. Can you relate?
Studies show that we are able to memorize words set to songs more quickly, and we retain those words longer than those we simply memorize. So, how about we sing Scripture?
Now, thanks to the Indelible Project, we can do just that – we can memorize Scripture by singing it! Indelible means “making marks that cannot be removed.” When we memorize Scripture, we hide the Word of God in our hearts – and that’s a mark that cannot be moved.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly…” Col. 3:16.
Question: What helps you memorize Scripture?
This weekend I spent several hours – actually more like 5 – in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Delayed flights on Sunday nights can really be the worst. Thankfully, I found myself a quiet restaurant, pulled out my computer, and was able to get some work done. I was able to make the most of the delay.
In the past, however, those 5 hours would have been painful! I could never seem to find those quiet, restaurants in the airport. I would settle for pre-packaged lunches to-go and then settle in for hours at crowded gates. Maybe you’ve done so too.
After one too many failed attempts at finding a good place to eat and rest, I started relying on the iFly Airport Guide app. The app describes itself as a guide for the “informed traveler.” And really, being informed is what makes all the difference when traveling.
The app can be accessed offline, so while I’m still in the air I look through the easy to navigate airport maps to find restaurants, restrooms, and of course, coffee! Instead of walking in confused circles in the airport, I’m able to quickly find what I’m looking for. Especially during short layovers, this app saves coveted time. And, it definitely makes for a happier traveler! The app has details ranging down to the distance to your gate – no need to break a sweat unless you need to, right?
The iFly Pro version takes the “informed traveler” to a whole new level with real-time flight tracking information, gate locations, and provides a user-friendly way to manage your itineraries.
Download the free version of iFly here, and save yourself some energy next time you fly.
Question: What are your favorite travel apps?
A few months ago, we talked about what to do with the email we receive. Bombarded with many emails a day, it’s important to assign an action to each one. But, what about emails that require someone else to act? How do you write emails that are easy for other people to address?
1.) Why am I writing this?
2.) What exactly do I want the result of this message to be?
People get dozens of emails a day, and if we have a succinct answer to these questions, we’ll be able to effectively communicate what actions we need the recipient to take.
Here are a few tips for writing an effective email:
Write a great subject line.
The subject line of your email is the most important part. Based on this short phrase, the recipient will choose to either open your email now, wait until later, or not at all. Consider beginning your messages with action-oriented words. These words jump directly to the purpose of the email.
“REQUEST: Send volunteer list.”
“HELP: Bring chairs to multipurpose room for unloading.”
“REMINDER: We will meet at 8PM tonight to prepare for the conference.”
Don’t hide the point of the message.
When we write, we either:
1.) Provide Information
2.) Request Information
3.) Request Action
In the topic sentence, clarify which of these three types of messages you are writing. Give just enough context to get started.
For example, note how the first sentence of this email states the purpose: “The multipurpose room is actually not available until 8PM on March 9. Please update the schedule and send to all volunteers so we may prep for the conference.”
If you write a great topic sentence, consider how much additional context is needed. You’d be surprised. Follow a rule of one topic per email message. It will keep things actionable. If too many topics are covered in a single email, tasks are oftentimes lost.
Following these best practices helps us be efficient communicators and more effective leaders. By clarifying our purpose in writing, being actionable, brief, and direct, the likelihood of response and compliance increases greatly! And of course, always feel free to send a friendly followup email if you haven’t received a response in a few days.
See more great tips on writing sensible email messages here.
Question: What helps you write effective emails?
Using social media seems so simple on the surface. Post content, others see it, and that’s all there is to it, right?
Actually, it’s not always that simple. Some of our actions when posting hinder the effectiveness of our presence online.
Some of our posts are never seen by our intended audience, while others are seen so often that our audience feels overwhelmed and annoyed. If our goal with each post is to inform and encourage, then it’s crucial we ensure our audience not only sees the posts in their feed, but also reads and finds the posts edifying.
The key is to share posts the right way and at the right time.
Buffer.com – a productivity blog – shares “7 of the Biggest Counterintuitive Social Media Mistakes You May be Making.” Are you making any of the big mistakes?
One common mistake is publishing content as soon as it is written. The time of day you write a new blog post or finish a group invite isn’t necessarily the time of day your audience is online. To receive the greatest response, share posts when others are online. This time varies depending on your audience. For example, I have found most people click links to my personal blog between 7-9 AM. Note when your posts receive the highest response, and share during those times.
Read the rest of the article here to see if you’re maximizing your exposure online.
Question: What mistakes have you made?
It’s that time of year when students all across the nation head back to school. Kindergarteners pose for the First Day of School photo on the front porch, and students are anxious to see their friends again.
While I don’t miss the tardy bell or school lunches, I do miss that feeling of starting fresh. The first day of school always launches students into the new year with energy and excitement. New teachers, new lunch boxes, and new school supplies shout “fresh start!”
Sometimes in ministry, we crave that same reset, too. We yearn to step back from the to-do lists and remember why we are serving in ministry. Sometimes the burden of daily tasks weighs heavily, and inwardly, we wonder where our passion went.
Even though there’s not a built-in fresh start to many of our jobs, one of the ways to cast a vision for the year is to write a Life Plan. A Life Plan is more than a to-do list; it considers the larger picture of our goals, passions, and considers all aspects of our lives – family, ministry, occupation, etc.
Author and Speaker Michael Hyatt outlines the process of writing a life plan. He shares 3 reasons to have a life plan:
- It will give you clarity about where your life is headed.
- It will keep you in balance when things get crazy.
- It will give you peace of mind, knowing you are addressing those aspects of your life that matter most.
Question: Do you ever long for a fresh start? How do you maintain perspective?
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