My very first hermeneutics professor, Dr. Curtis Horn, taught me an invaluable lesson that has changed how I’ve seen work and play ever since I was 21 years old. He was a pilot prior to going to seminary and becoming a professor. He had 2 (maybe 3!) children at the time he started his Ph.D. which is most certainly not the easiest task. One afternoon at his house on campus, I asked him “How did you manage that transition in life, with a family, and a full work load?” His reply was swift and simple. “I learned to never mix work and play. If you play while you work, your work turns out sloppy. If you work while you play, you never feel rested.” That’s one of the principles I’ve tried to live by for the last 13 years. For most of us, that experience is a real exercise in discipline.
So, we’re all using smart phones with various apps available all the time. Here’s three that I’ve found that aid in being a more productive leader when working, so that work is productive and rewarding and rest actually feels like “rest.” Currently, at Living Stones Churches, we are taking our pastors through Matt Perman’s new book “What’s Best Next?” It’s a brilliantly written book on Gospel-Driven Productivity. Highly recommended!
As a pastor, author, and professor, I’m constantly reading and in conversations with others in my field of work and there are always ideas coming to my mind that need to be implemented somewhere somehow. Evernote is an app that allows me to have multiple folders for saving, filing, and searching that syncs regularly with both my phone and the Evernote App on my computer. I use the voice recorder for audio notes, take photos of pages of books, and it’ll even recognize my handwriting. Again, having sermons to prep for, various writing projects going on, upcoming classes to teach, and meetings to lead; my mind is always racing. So Evernote is a good place to dump those ideas rather than just hoping that I’ll be on the spot and remember what I need to remember later on. Having multiple folders that I can jot notes down right there is invaluable! Here’s just a few of my folders:
“To Be Used In Sermons” (for illustrations or quotes that I come across in books or online).
“Blog Ideas” (pretty straight forward, there).
“Theology on the Spot” (these are short video training ideas that hit me when I’m studying).
“Staff leadership” (this is when I learn something that I think could be helpful implementing among the staff at church).
“Reckless Love of God” (My book coming out next year).
(They have a free version and one that runs about $40 a year with a few extra features. I bought the premium version about a month ago and so far it seems like it is worth the extra money).
Voxer is a walkie-talkie app that has been helpful lately as well. We’ve all ran into the issue that arises through texts and emails and the inability to recognize tone or voice inflection. So, when I’m asking for something from a staff member, instead of just sending a text saying “I need _____.” I can give the why behind the what (don’t miss that!) in a few seconds and then send a quick Vox making a request of someone without fear of them not hearing the tone in which I’m speaking. This eliminates the possibility for bitterness or resentment to creep in because the person I’m speaking with could actually hear my voice. The question then arises, “Why not just make a phone call?” If you’re like me, 1) You don’t like being on the phone that much. 2) Because we’ve all experienced the “small talk” that happens in phone calls and that actually ends up wasting. Depending on who you are and what the small talk is, the small talk can go on and on. Rather than losing work time on small talk I use Voxer. That way I can save the “catching up” for when we’re done working, and thus, it isn’t just small talk that we have later, but actual community that can lead to significant personal conversations.
Lastly, staying on top of world news is a full-time job for people.
How do you know which story to read? Good leaders want to maximize our time everyday. We’ve all lost time reading articles that really didn’t matter and missed the ones that did. Yahoo has an app that takes the top 10 news stories and sends them to you once in the morning and once in the evening to let you know what’s going on around the world regarding politics, sports, art, etc. so that you can be a little more in the know about what’s happening globally.
(Oh, and the Book of Common Prayer has a few apps as well).
Those are just three that I’ve found useful over the last few months. What are some of your favorite apps that help you stay on task and get things done?