Top Five Tuesday — Top Five (Or Six) Paths To Productivity, 21st Century Style

We all have deadlines, but then again, we all have distractions, too.

So what are some ways in the digital age to increase productivity, in ministry and otherwise?

Here are five that are helping me:

1.Screen off, music on.  I realized on Monday night that I got more done in 90 minutes at home while sitting in the dining room listening to Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy than I had in about four hours at my office.  Why?  No screen.  No emails, no Facebook, no Twitter, no . . .  Just pen, paper, bible, and Ring Them Bells

2.Least favorite thing first.  Get the tough, life-draining stuff out of the way early in the day.  That way, the rest of it can be more life-giving.

3.Plan the day ahead the night before.  If you wait until you get to your work station to plan your day, you’re already behind.  Reserve five or ten minutes at day’s end to plot your tasks for the next day.  Incidentally, this is why I write almost all my daily blog posts the night before they publish.

4.For your non-work related reading, read non-work related stuff.  It will help you work MORE.  I’ve told many of you before that I very rarely read books on ministry and preaching.  And yet the novels and the histories that I do read end up shaping my series and messages as much as anything else except the bible.  Just recently, Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am have given me about a year’s worth of sermon nuggets . . . and they were terrific reads along the way.

5.Small Doses Of Your Device.  You can look busy while on your mobile device.  But more often it is a distraction disguised as productivity.  Remember: people survived pretty well before 2007 and the release of the iPhone.  Somehow.

6.Don’t enter Facebook political arguments.  Especially if you are a United Methodist preacher.  Please, dear God, especially if you are a UM preacher.  Better yet, don’t even read the lengthy argument strings already posted.  They may tempt you to chime in and the world (and the church) doesn’t need another opinion.