I remember when our church bought its first fax machine.
It was very expensive so we opted for a second-hand machine.
It was an exciting day when this new innovation disrupted our world of snail mail and catapulted us into the 1980’s.
Today’s technology now makes those days feel like ancient history.
With the invasion of smartphones and the online world, we have experienced a sudden and significant change in how we work, communicate and navigate our way through life in this century.
Churches are now live streaming their services and using Skype and Zoom to connect during the week.
Apps are now a part of everyday life. Being such a geek (yes I am!) I enjoy experimenting with new apps.
Let me show you how to increase your personal productivity with 12 apps I love.
I jumped into Trello last year when I got tired of using different systems for my to-do lists.
I was primarily using my calendar, emails and paper lists.
Unfortunately using different tools tended to make life messy and things were either forgotten or missed.
I discovered Trello and find it superb. My use of Trello is also influenced by the Kanban method of organising tasks.
The app is available on all devices and this is what the app looks like on my laptop:
I have 5 columns:
1. Waiting Room – ideas that may or may not get actioned one day. This preserves those moments of inspiration that would otherwise get lost.
2. To Do – ideas that have moved from possibilities to the next stage of implementation.
3. Doing – items that are now on the priority list.
4 Today – items I’m focussed on today.
5. Done – this allows me to see what I’ve accomplished. I’ve never had a list like this before and it’s nice to scan through it occasionally and see what I’ve been achieving.
You can also set up Trello boards for single projects.
My clients are also using it for team projects and as a means of helping and supervising team members.
Trello has been a revolution for me and while I still occasionally use paper lists it has become my go-to app for organizing tasks.
This new email app from Google is just brilliant.
I love the user interface as its clean, crisp and user-friendly.
However, the real bonus for me is the ability to hide an email until a set date and time.
Inbox calls it “Snoozing” and it helps keep my inbox clean.
Inbox also groups relevant emails into bundles.
For instance, when you’re travelling, Inbox will automatically group your flight, hotel and car hire emails together.
Email is such a dominant part of our world so we need to use it effectively.
When I said I will show you how to increase your personal productivity, I was certainly thinking of Inbox.
UPDATE: Google removed Inbox 🙁
I remember the ‘good old days’ when I get on a plane loaded up with books to read.
Thank goodness those days are long gone.
All I need now is my Samsung tablet with the Kindle app and viola I have dozens of books at my fingertips. All in a device that’s lighter that one paperback.
While I still read ‘real’ books the bulk of my reading is done on my tablet. I’ve no doubt I’ve read more books and saved hundreds of dollars since using Kindle.
Here’s a reading app that’s not so well known.
I love reading and one of my ways to relax is reading espionage, crime and political novels.
OverDrive gives me access to free books through my local library.
While the range is limited I’ve still been able to borrow dozens of library books without ever darkening my library’s front door.
When I tell people that I subscribe to hundreds of blogs they are often shocked and genuinely surprised.
They ask me, “How do you find the time to read that many blogs?”
I then break out Feedly.
Feedly grabs all the latest posts from the blogs and collates them in one convenient place which makes reading and sharing them easily and hassle-free
Feedly gives me constant access to some of the best bloggers on the planet and keeps me up to date with trends in church leadership.
You can learn how to setup Feedly here.
It took me about three shots at Messenger to finally embrace it.
Initially, I found it overly intrusive with annoying notifications so I’d delete it and revert to accessing my Facebook messages through my Chrome browser.
However, in recent months I have given it another shot.
I worked out how to turn off all the notifications and have now found it be useful.
I even used it recently to call a friend in the USA.
I’m not a huge user of Messenger and often find that after I’ve read a message I forget about it and don’t reply. Two weeks later I stumble across it and realise that I never replied! So I encourage people to email me if they want a reply.
I love being useful and helpful.
One way I fulfil this desire is by curating content through social media. In other words, I find interesting and helpful material and share it with my followers on Facebook and Twitter.
However, if I didn’t use Buffer these posts would be posted at random times and often like an annoying flood.
Buffer takes my posts and posts them at pre-arranged times. In fact, it posts at the times my followers are most likely to see them.
If you’ve ever seen a middle-of-the-night post from me that’s Buffer or my other automated helper, Edgar.
Buffer’s customer service is exemplary and they offer 50% discount to non-profits.
Buffer describes itself in these glowing terms and I tend to agree with them:
Buffer is the easiest way to share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn!
Schedule your updates to post at optimal times, whether you’re around or not.
Build up a queue of awesome content to share with your friends and followers, and followup on your posts with Buffer’s straightforward analytics to see which posts performed best.
Smart phones have ushered in a new golden era of podcasting.
Anyone can now listen to their favourite preacher, entrepreneur, comedian or teacher when they’re out walking, working out in the gym, driving to an appointment, sitting on a plane or in a cafe.
I use Pocket Casts because it’s simple and looks beautiful.
Here’s a screenshot of Pocket Casts which gives you an idea of my tastes.
Primarily I listen to preachers and online marketing gurus.
When leaders ask me how to increase their personal productivity I encourage them to try podcasts. Increased knowledge leads to better ways of doing things and podcasts easily bring knowledge to our lives.
This is one of my favourite apps.
I describe WhatsApp as instant messaging and texting on steroids.
WhatsApp is perfect for communicating with individuals or a group of people. You can use text, photos and even send short videos.
I have a family group for chatting with my family. A group for close friends which generally contains all types of mayhem and madness! Plus we have a group for C3 Church pastors in Western Australia.
I’m now encouraging pastors to use WhatsApp to setup a request and feedback loop for their personal prayer partners.
I love this app because it keeps me connected with key people in my world and that always helps my productivity.
Stand back! I am about to blow you away with this app.
When I said I will show you how to increase your personal productivity, I knew Tripit would fit the bill.
Tripit is must have app for anyone who gets on planes.
Tripit does two amazing things:
1. When a confirmation email lands in your Inbox Tripit automatically adds your travel plans (flights, hotels, car hire) to the app
2. Tripit then adds all your plans to your calendar
Occasionally Tripit doesn’t notice the email (it’s imperfect technology folks!) so I just email the PDF to Tripit and it then does its thing.
Tripit is available on all mobile devices and on your desktop computer as well.
Yes, all this for no expense.
No more adding travel plans to calendars or carrying paper docs.
You have to love it!
Twitter has definitely dropped off in popularity amongst my friends.
It’s been overtaken by Facebook’s ubiquitous dominance and Instagram’s visual feast.
However, I find Twitter effective for three things that boost my productivity:
1. Drive traffic to our website: 20% of the traffic that comes from social media comes through Twitter so I find it very useful to bring people to our site. FYI Facebook is responsible for 69% of the traffic through social media. Google+ less than 1%.
2. News: I hardly ever watch TV news and only occasionally buy a newspaper. Twitter has become my portal for news and sport. I follow dozens of journalists and news organisations and use Twitter’s List function to isolate and read their tweets.
3. Knowledge: I create Twitter lists around my passions and daily read a range of interesting articles which I often retweet.
Join my over 7000 followers and connect with me on Twitter.
I’ve used Logos Bible Software for over two decades and have built up an extensive library of hundreds of books.
So when Logos developed an Android app I jumped in with both feet and it’s become my primary method of devotional bible studies and reading.
I also use Faith life Study Bible which is a cut-down version of Logos designed for devotional reading.
What apps do you use to boost your productivity?
Now I could go on and on about other key apps in my world like the various social media apps and other productivity apps but I will save that for another post.
What apps work for you?
What apps increase your personal productivity?
What apps help you grow a healthy church?
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