Youth Ministry Productivity: Part Two – 3 Keys to Getting Things Done

People often ask me, “John, I am trying to be more productive, but I don’t know what tools will help me.  What do you use?”.  Actually, people rarely ask me that, but if they did, here is what I would share. The first step, before you begin choosing a tool that will help you, is to develop a system to organize everything you have going on, every task, thought, responsibility, engagement, and idea.

Youth Ministry Productivity Part Two

Here is a simple 3 step process process to do get things done:

1) Get it out of your head, or it will be lost forever! My head is a scary place.  Things go there to die, or to get lost and never be found again.  If you have an idea or job, do something with it.  Don’t wait until later when you have a free moment to “record it appropriately”.  More often than not you will forget it.  Oh, and a post-it note doesn’t count.  It has to be something you will review later, not something that you get used to seeing on your computer monitor until it blends into the background.  Put it in your phone, carry a small notepad with you.

2) Take time each day to look over all this stuff you have squeezed out of your skull, then  prioritize it.  Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”  The obvious key to this is having a clear idea of what is most important for you.  It may be the things that are most important to your Senior Pastor.  It may be the specific program or activity that fires you up the most.  It may be the event that has the greatest impact on the kids.  Whatever they are, you need to take some time to clearly sit down and identify your priorities.  David Allen has a helpful process for prioritizing your work called Getting Things Done. Check it out at

3) Create a “stop doing list”.  If you have a list of your known time wasters, you will see them when they pop up on your list.  You can recognize them more quickly and cross them off immediately.

Once you have worked through this process, there are hundreds of tools that can help you increase your productivity, and it is just a matter of finding what works for you.  For some, pen and paper will always be the best solutions.  Others lean towards more complex project management apps to coordinate your whole team (though I believe these folks have to be organized and productivity to be able to use them in the first place).

Below are just a few tools I have used with success.  Try them out and see what works for you.

  • Evernote – Capture every thought in a way that is completely searchable. It helps you get the idea out of your head the second you have it. It is hardly unknown, but I can’t live without this one.
  • Remember the Milk – a simple to-do list app for smartphones and computers.  It integrates well with Gmail.
  • Outlook – it is much more than email.   Tasks, notes, calendar – all easily used together. Here is a link to an article on how to use it more effectively:
  • Wunderlist – to-do app that has task sharing capabilities.  It can be used through Facebook.
  • Nozbe – a more robust project management app that has a free basic version with the option to pay for advanced feature.

These are just a few of the many great tools out there.  Or if I am missing something that has  helped you, please share it in the comments section below.