Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Personal Vision Workbook - 3. Progressive Obedience

The following is from my Personal Vision Workbook. Read the introduction and legal stuff.


God has already been at work, speaking to you through His Holy Spirit. He’s been telling you what He wants you to quit doing and start doing. This isn’t the big vision God has for you, but it is a stepping stone toward that vision. If we’re not willing to start obeying God in the little things, why would He show us the big things?
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” - James 1:22

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” - Luke 16:10

What do you know God wants you to do differently…
…at home?

…with your spouse?

…with your kids?

…with your leisure time?

…at work or school?

…at church?

…in your access areas? (see access areas post)

What will you do about it? Who will you tell about it?

Friday, January 26, 2007

GTD Overview

I've been tracking Nuance Labs over the last week or so. They seem to be creating a new, perfect GTD app (read my thoughts on that) called "Liquid Minded." You know, "mind like water," and all that.

Today they posted a great GTD Overview that really encapsulates the major principles of David Allen's Getting Things Done system. A great review or introduction.

Personal Vision Workbook - 2. Giving God Access

The following is from my Personal Vision Workbook. Read the introduction and legal stuff.


God will not force His way into our lives. He will only come in as we intentionally invite Him. He can only work in the areas of our lives where we give Him access.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” - Revelation 3:20

Jesus is knocking, patiently waiting for us to give Him access.

God gains access to our lives whenever we open our hearts to Him in prayer. If you pray through your finances and spending, you are giving God access to show you His vision for handling your money. If you don’t talk to Him about it, He’s not going to force His way in.

Think through what you do and think in a typical day (or week).
What areas do you need to talk to God about, so He can have access in those parts of your life?

Schedule at least 20 minutes of prayer (access) time every day until you complete the vision process.
When will you do it? Write it down and tell someone.

Listening to God is just as important as praying. Fasting is useful for intentionally listening for God.
Consider turning off all excess noise for a week or two. Let leisure time become listening time.
How will you listen? Write it down and tell someone.

Here's a sample list of possible access areas:
Money, Television, Food, Parenting, Internet, Spouse, Sex, Work, Friendships, Honesty, Emotions, Habits, Bible Study, Spirituality, Attitude, Health, Discipline, Forgiveness, Lust, Plans, Drugs, Trust, Music, etc.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Personal Vision Workbook - 1. Understanding Vision

The following is from my Personal Vision Workbook. Read the introduction and legal stuff.


God has a plan, a vision, for your life. Before you were even born, God knew what He wanted you to do and be – a legacy He wanted you to pass on to future generations.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:10

Intentionally seeking God’s vision for your life is the single most important thing you can do as a Christian.

Be careful not to mistake your own ambition and desires for God’s vision. Vision is not dreaming up your biggest dream, it is discovering what God has called and created you to do.

Baseline Vision Test

Please spend at least 5 minutes in prayer before answering:
What is your understanding of God’s vision for “The Church?”

What is your current understanding of God’s vision for your life?

My GTD Loves ReDo - List Software for the Palm Pilot

ReDo solves a major problem with the ToDo list function in my Palm Pilot - recurring tasks.

With ReDo, I just put a recurring task in once, decide how often I want it to show up in my ToDo list, decide which list I want it to go into, and forget about it. It's kind of like a tickler file for my task lists.

When I started using ReDo, I would put projects in it. But I don't do that any more. It just never worked out well. So now I only put in recurring tasks (click for a discussion of projects vs. tasks).

One of the ways I use this as a pastor is to keep up with my different ministry teams. Each month, I want to touch base with each of the leaders of the church's different ministry teams. So I have them scheduled in ReDo to show up one per weekday in my ToDo list (in the @Call category) starting at the beginning of each month.

I also use it to put "devotional and prayer" into my @Office list every day.

It's well worth the small price (maybe I'll register my copy someday).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Personal Vision Workbook - Introduction (and legal stuff)

Personal Vision WorkbookWell, I am a pastor. So now that I've gotten my desk cleaned off, my life running smoothly, and my brain free of clutter (thanks to GTD), I want to spend some time helping you figure out what God has in mind for your life or your ministry. And from the popularity of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, I think a lot of people are looking for clarity - for an understanding of God's unique purpose for their lives. I believe that we cant be truly "effective" or "productive" until we know exactly what we're supposed to be about.

In late 2004, I had an opportunity to go to a CRM Focusing Leaders training event. Over several days, about 40 pastors went through a variety of intense group and individual exercises. At the end of those few days, we all walked out with a greater understanding of what God wanted for our ministries and lives. Each one of us had a brand new Personal Calling Statement (you can take a look at mine here).

I realized that I wanted to make that kind of process available to my church members, so they could discover God's unique calling for their lives. So I modified the CRM process and created a workbook that church members could go through on their own. I preached my first 20/20 Vision sermon series in January of 2006, and gave all of my church members their own Personal Vision Workbook (there's also a Student Edition).

Since January of 2006, several church members have gone through this workbook. One woman felt called to start working as a child advocate in the local court system. Another woman was able to come to grips with some previous abuse and start reaching out to others. Another woman felt called to quit her job and homeschool her daughter. Several people changed ministry positions in the church to be more in line with their calling and spiritual gifts. A couple others decided to start new careers. A family decided to set up a trust fund to enable future generations to get a Christian Education. And one man decided to finally start a (long-awaited) music ministry.

The next few posts will lead you through the process.

Listen to this year's Discovering God's Plan sermon, where I re-introduce the Personal Vision Workbook process to the congregation.

Use the Personal Vision Workbook for your own life or ministry and share it with others.

Legal Stuff:
Personal Vision Workbook (c) 2011 by Jay L. Perry
All Scripture from the New International Version

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Getting Things Done - Contextualized Task Lists

I had figured out the difference between projects and tasks. Now it was time to put my tasks on context-sensitive (contextualized) task lists. These are in my Palm Pilot as different "ToDo" list categories.

Here are some of my ToDo action categories:
"@Agendas" - things I want to talk to certain people about when I see them.
"@Call" - calls I need to make when I'm in a calling mood.
"@Computer" - things I need to do that require a computer.
"@Errands" - things I need to do when I'm out and about.
"@Home" - things I need to do at home.
"@Office" - things I need to do at my office.
"@Read" - things I need to read (when I'm in a reading mood).
"Waiting for" - things I'm waiting to hear back on (delegated or otherwise).

Then I also have my two compulsory project categories:

I try not to write the items into my Palm Pilot directly. My graffiti just isn't fast enough. So I type them in on the computer and sync the Palm Pilot.

I patterned my ToDo list categories after David Allen's. You can download his article on setting up your PalmPilot here.

Getting Things Done - Projects vs. Tasks

I finally understand why lists never worked for me before I read Getting Things Done.

My mom is a compulsive list maker. And I had a PalmPilot with a ToDo list (and priority ranking!). And I had read that some important (and productive) person wrote out a ToDo list every day before he started work, so he could be really productive (or something). So I would write everything down that needed to be done that day. I thought it would help my time management. But the opposite happened. In fact, my pre-GTD lists seemed to cause procrastination.

The problem was that I didn't understand I should be working from a task list instead of a project list. I would put a bunch of multi-step projects in my ToDo list - Do 1 Year Strategic Planning, Plan Sermonic Year, Plan Sermon Series, Write Sermon, Plan Budget, Find a New Graphic Designer, Create CD Process and Delegate, etc. - along with my tasks. So I would look at my ToDo list and freeze. I hadn't thought about the next physical action for any of the projects. So they just became an overwhelming amorphous mass of ToDo hanging over my head.

In GTD, I learned to put anything that takes more than one physical action on my "Project List." And then for each project, just come up with the one next physical action, and put it on my "Task List."

So, I ended up breaking down my projects into smaller steps so I could do them. I know, you've heard that a thousand times. But did you ever hear it applied to lists? It all just makes so much more sense now.

I can't actually just sit down and "Plan a Sermonic Year." I have to gather calendars from the church school, individual ministries, and denominational headquarters. I have to figure out which events and holidays would go on our church's master calendar. I have to sketch out individual sermon series (another 20 individual tasks for each sermon series) and place them in the calendar. I have to brainstorm possible guest speakers, prioritize them, look up their contact information, and invite them. Planning a Sermonic Year might actually be a few hundred individual tasks (read my Sermon Planning posts).

No wonder I would look at my list and glaze over and go back to playing Sudoku. I know what the next action is in Sudoku!

For sanity's sake, please separate your project list from your task list. Your brain will thank you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Getting Things Done - Finally Processing My Inbox

So along with the massive pile of everything in my inbox, I now had a massive pile of guilt. I had written down all of the stuff I knew I needed to do. And now it was in black and white. On paper. I could no longer hide from it. There were church members I needed to visit, people I needed to have uncomfortable conversations with, and interests who needed to be "followed-up."

My gut reaction was to just chuck the whole GTD "processing my inbox" junk and just do those things nagging at me. "Okay, okay. I'll do it already!" But I had to make a conscious decision to choose the important over the urgent (ala Covey's Seven Habits). I resolved to process my inbox.

It took me only three days to go through 6 years of accumulated junk.

I would pick up a piece of paper (book, CD, article, etc.) and ask, "is it actionable?" If not, I would file it, throw it away, or put it on my someday/maybe list. I became ruthless. It turns out a bunch of stuff was just waiting to be thrown away.

But most of it had to be filed for future reference. Pull out a file folder, type up a label on my nifty label printer, recite the alphabet under my breath, and FILE!

If it was actionable, I would figure out if it was a one-step action or a multi-step process. If it would take more than one step to complete, I would put it on my "Project List," figure out the one next step, and put it on my action list. If it was just one step, it would go directly on my action list.

Could that next action be done in less than two minutes? Yes? I would do it immediately. If not, I would just leave it on my action list, decide to delegate it, or put it in my tickler file to do on a specified later date.

The two minute rule rocks! That's what allowed me to ever get to the bottom of my inbox. I would take two minutes to look through a magazine, and see if there was anything I wanted to clip or keep. I would take two minutes to look at a catalog before throwing it away or filing it. If I tried to actually do everything before I went on to the next thing, my inbox would still be 8 feet tall. David Allen says that two minutes is the productivity threshold. It's about how long it takes you to determine whether you'll need something and then file it.

In the process, I learned that I underestimated two minutes (badly). I would think, "Oh, I can call my church treasurer and find that out in about two minutes." WRONG! Thirty minutes later, you're still sitting there on the phone listening to them tell you about their Aunt Dorothy's cat, who has mysteriously taken ill. So sending e-mail became my "two-minute-rule" new best friend.

Three days after I began, my office was completely transformed. I had an empty inbox, a beautiful filing system, a small stack of articles for later reading, a list of things to delegate, a project list, a someday/maybe list, and an action list (which I would later divide into contextual action lists).

And for the second time in six years (the first time was that vacation with my wife in Playa del Carmen), I felt completely unstressed.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Getting Things Done - Workflow (and free desktop wallpaper!)

Today, a quick post on GTD workflow. Getting Things Done really centers around the 5 major phases of the workflow process (download David Allen's 5 Phases Overview):
1. Collect (put your things in your inbox)
2. Process (figure out what to do with those things)
3. Organize (figure out projects and tasks and calendar)
4. Review (regularly make sure your process has no leaks)
5. Do (start doing higher-level thinking, planning, and working)

There are several flowcharts online that you can print out to help you get ready to process and organize all of the stuff you've collected. I put one up on the wall right next to my desk before I even tried to tackle my overflowing inbox. I really like David Allen's original Workflow diagram. The D*I*Y Planner website also has a diagram that I like (especially because it includes some detail on the capture phase and a checklist for the weekly review).

Currently, my favorite workflow diagram is a desktop wallpaper from anabubula.com. Now, every time I open my laptop, I see a lovely GTD reference flowchart. Here's a sample:

GTD Workflow Wallpaper

If you want way more detail than I can handle on one piece of paper, try David Allen's Advanced Workflow Diagram. My wife swears by this one. It's just way too much for me.