Tools of the Trade: Calendar and Things


Hello friends! 

Greetings from St. Louis! We’ve been on the road since 4:00 AM, and we just got in. But I wanted to post this up to keep the J-Blog streak alive. There will be more posts about the National Youth Workers Convention once it gets underway.  

Last post I wrote about how busy things are and how to best keep our heads on straight during the busy seasons. Today, I want to take a look at two of the tools that help me to keep everything on track. They are Google Calendar, and Things.  



Google Calendar 

Every now and again someone will ask to meet with me or get a cup of coffee or something, and I immediately pull out my phone with an all too predictable dad response: “If it’s not in here, it doesn’t happen.” And while it makes me roll my own eyes every time I say it, it still happens to be true. Now a whole bunch of people use Google Calendar, and could probably help you get a whole bunch more out of it than I do, but there are a few tips that help me stay organized:  

1) Share with your family.  

My calendars are all shared and editable by Sarah. That’s super critical for the two of us, because there are days (see Tuesday and Wednesday above) where we may not see each other in all the hustle and bustle. And with keeping up with our kids, it’s critical for us to have our calendars synced up to the minute. You’ll notice above some times where someone else is watching the boys, spots where I need to pick them up from daycare, all of that. Having that on my phone in real time is absolutely critical.  

2) Multiples

I actually have multiple calendars that are all synced through Google. I have Pastoral, Worship, Youth Ministry, Media, Personal, Workout, and one for the boys. Each calendar gets its own color, and as mentioned above all of them are shared with Sarah. This way when I open up my calendar, I can really quickly see whether or not I am hitting all my targets at work. This week with the convention I am spending a lot of time on Youth Ministry, which means I know when I get back that one of the other ministry areas I’m involved in is going to need some attention. It’s a quick glance way to see what’s going on.  

3) Week Ahead Planning.  

Every Sunday, after church lets out, I take a little bit of time to sit in my office in the stillness and quiet to look at the week that’s coming. It’s important for me to do this every week, just to make sure I have a sense of what’s coming. When things are super busy, I may not be thinking about Tuesday on Sunday because of my Monday day off, but there may be projects that are super important and need some attention. Which leads me to the other tool I use:  




Admittedly, Things is a little bit pricey. But I purchased it a long time ago while I was in seminary, and it works so well for me I am totally unwilling to try anything else. That said some of the features that Things has are available on cheaper or maybe even free apps, so my let’s just look at philosophy.  

The big thing is to schedule your to-dos. When I was in seminary, I would sit down at the beginning of each term with the syllabus for each and every class, and take a look at the scheduled assignments and readings. I would then make a project (those goofy shaped cubes on the left) for each class, and actually assign to-do’s for every week of the class. In Things, you can schedule when those To-Do’s will show up in the Today view. So throughout the year, my Today view would automatically update to show what needed to be read and written through seminary. As long as I was able to clear out the Today tab every day, I was doing alright.  

These days I don’t often get a syllabus, but I still lean really heavily on scheduled to-dos. I have some repeating tasks that happen every day, every week, and every month. The projects are mostly centered around my ministry areas, with a few personal projects tossed in. While I’m sitting down with my calendar during that week ahead planning, I have Things nearby to add up my to-dos during the week. I also try to have a copy of Things running during every meeting.  

That’s how I roll with time and task management. How do you do it?