How to Be Efficient
One of the questions I get asked a lot is “How do you guys at Twelve:Thirty Media crank out so much fresh content?” or I personally get “Do you ever sleep?”
For the record, I don’t sleep much, but we have tried a few tricks along the way as it comes to efficiency and producing a lot of new content every week.
The more budgets are strained at your church and the more your Leadership may be asking of you, it might be good to re-evaluate how you organize your day.
In this blog post, I am going to share a few ideas for getting the most out of your day. Several ideas I’ll share below you may already use, or some might help you think through other things you can try.
I live and die by lists. Our team uses Asana as our Project Management system. Each day, at the end of my day, I make a prioritized list of the things I need to get done tomorrow. I organize my Task List in the order I want to accomplish each project. I’m actually pretty old school and like the satisfaction of physically checking off a box on my Task List. So, everyday, I print out my Task List and have it on my desk during the day.
Having a List usually keeps me on Task or at least when I am distracted, I have my List to come back to, to keep me on track.
Lists of Subtasks
Depending on the Task, I make another list. This could be a numbered list of Subtasks for a Project.
An example might be:
Task: Meet with Jim about Conference
- Ask Jim about Conference Price
- Ask Jim about Travel
- Ask Jim about Lodging
Lists of Ideas
I use Evernote and Asana to organize all of my notes and projects. One concept I use frequently is a Brainstorm List of Ideas to come back to. I find it easier to focus on one concept and flesh out as many ideas as I can on that topic. Let me give you a couple of examples.
- Blog Post Titles: When starting Twelve:Thirty Media, I knew that a Blog would be a major component of our strategy. So I spent time creating an Evernote and listed as many ideas as I could possibly think of for Blog Post Ideas. I would walk around a church or a production area or worship area. Everything that would come to mind, that someone who is responsible for Making Sunday Happen would need to know I wrote down. Literally hundreds of possible Blog Post Titles. We eventually had dozens of authors write for our Blog, so I actually still have that List of Ideas with dozens of Blog Post Titles we still haven’t touched nearly 6 years later.
- Podcast Guests and Topics: I did the same thing with our Podcast. I knew I wanted our podcast to be weekly. So in a few sittings, I wrote down as many possible Podcast Titles and Guests I could think of. I actually just pulled that list up in my Evernote and it has 164 possible episodes (that’s enough for over 3 years of the Podcast). Some titles and Guests happened, some didn’t. But that list of ideas gave (and still gives) me a bank of Ideas to pull from when my brain doesn’t function in the moment. A focused list of ideas also allowed me to dream. What if we got X as a guest on the podcast? That would be crazy!
I had a professor in college that would say “A Goal is a Dream written Down.”
There is something behind focused attention recording ideas and brainstorm sessions. Write it all down in a place you can refer back to. You might not use ideas right away, and you will definitely adjust your thinking along the way, but record your ideas to start your brain working.
AUTOMATION AND SCHEDULING
If you have the ability to automate and schedule anything, do it.
Example: Social Media Posting
You might spend a couple hours of your time writing out Social Posts on a Google Document or Evernote. Write as many posts as you can think of in one sitting. Then, you can use a service like Buffer, CoSchedule, or Hootsuite to schedule your posts out. You might think – “Isn’t that impersonal?” – No, its not – you have still written the post, and once it is posted, you can jump onto your social channels and respond to any comments, but scheduling your posts help you drip fresh content continually.
Use this concept for anything that allows for automation.
Have a blog?
Write as many posts as you can in a day. Then put your Blog Posts on your website in a Draft or Unpublished state and schedule when it goes live on your website.
We’ll write content for the Blog that won’t actually release for months. You can easily dip in once you are close to publishing and add a line here or there to make it relevant to a date or make a current reference if you need.
MACHINES, APPS AND TEMPLATES
I’m not trying to sound like Captain Obvious here, but if a machine can do a task, get a machine to do it.
This one also goes hand and hand with Automation and Scheduling.
Let me give you some Examples from Daily Life on this one:
Smart Lighting for your Home is not that expensive. If you can automate and schedule your doors to be locked, your Air Conditioning, your lamps, etc., you might consider it.
For a Church World example: If MediaShout can store an entire library of your songs and arrangements so that once the song is in your library once, it is in there and you don’t have to physically type your lyric slides every week, do it.
If you can set up Templates and Slide Labels in ProPresenter to save you immense amounts of time prepping for Sunday – use it.
Spend some time learning about how apps and templates can do work for you to save yourself time.
DOUBLE UP / MULTI-TASK
There is some science to prove that Multi-Tasking is not necessarily productive – that it might be better for you to focus on one thing at a time.
However, a way that I have found to Double Up or Multi-Task is to think through the order of my Tasks and see what a machine can be doing while I am doing something else.
Let me give you another Home Example:
Let’s say I see a mess on the Kitchen Counter I need to clean up.
Instead of cleaning the Kitchen Counter first when I see the mess, I might go get laundry and put a load of Laundry in first.
Then I might clean the dishes and put all the dishes in the Dish Washer second.
Now I have two machines working on things before I clean up the mess on the counter.
Because when I’m done with the mess on the counter, the Laundry might be ready for another round of Laundry.
Now I’ve accomplished three tasks when I might have only gotten one done.
DELEGATE OR OUTSOURCE
Look at your Task List – what one thing on the list can only you do?
What can someone else do?
I have learned the hard way that I am not Superman. I can’t do everything in the day I have.
It is better to delegate or outsource a project and get it 80-90% the way you would do it and get it done, than try to do 100% of everything all the time.
It will be worth it to spend the time to train someone else how to do a task. Once they are rolling on something, it allows you to multiple yourself and spin more plates.
I can be forgetful. I need a reminder for my brain.
I set Timers on my Phone and on my Amazon Echo to remind me of things throughout my day.
I set timers for Meetings, when to leave for an appointment, when to change out the Laundry (I’m on a Laundry kick, huh?), and more.
Setting a timer or reminder keeps me moving in the direction of my Task List. It is an “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to…” jolt.
PRODUCE IN BULK
Producing in Bulk was a key for me that unlocked opportunities to get more done.
I write Blog Posts in bulk, I record Podcast Episodes and Interviews in bulk, I schedule things in bulk…
Our team has mapped out our Blog Calendar and our Podcast Calendar for many months in advance.
You might do this with your Sermon Series planning. Pray and Map out a year in advance. I don’t just mean your Theme for the year.
I mean map out your Series for the Year = topics, weeks, holidays, stand alone’s….
You can always go in and rework your plan. But it is so much easier to adjust your plan than to create a new plan every week.
And I fully understand a Global Pandemic might hit and it overturns your entire apple cart.
But even if your plan gets rocked, usually you can shift things around and reuse pieces of your plan, still allowing you to be planned out further.
Do you record Worship for your 100% Online Only service during COVID-19?
There is no reason why you can’t have the Worship Team record 2-3 weeks of music in advance and only use a portion for this coming Sunday.
Do you host a Podcast, TV Show or Radio Show?
Unless the premise of your program is Current Events, record a bulk of your content weeks or months in advance.
Do you produce Social Media content for your church?
Produce dozens of images and posts for a month at a time and drip release that content.
REPURPOSE YOUR CONTENT
I learned this from Michael Hyatt early on when starting our ministry. Most people do not engage with every avenue of delivery from your church or ministry.
Meaning = most people are not going to read your E-mail AND read your Blog Post AND listen to your podcast AND visit your website AND read everything from you on Social Media AND….
They might touch one or two of those channels, but not everyone at the same time.
So it is okay to repurpose your content for multiple channels to your church body.
Or you might use a piece of content in an E-Mail one month and next month release the same content as an E-Book from your Pastor.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think through how you can repurpose one piece of content for multiple platforms.
I completely understand that some of these suggestions are No-Brainers or might feel a little silly to talk about.
But I want to be efficient in my daily work so that I can accomplish more for the Kingdom.
I hope these ideas at least get your mind moving on ways you can tweak your daily routine to get more out of your day so that you can do more ministry.