Washington: Resolved, Resolute, In Pursuing The Goal


Washington had finally hit upon a way to win this seemingly unwinnable war – not through military brilliance but by slowly and relentlessly wearing the enemy down. Throughout the month of June, Washington displayed a cool resolve that was in stark contrast to the fiery pugnacity of just a few months before. Not everyone was sure they approved of Washington’s unwillingness to engage the enemy. Some in his own army dismissed what they called Washington’s “Fabian” strategy (in reference to Fabius Maximus, the Roman leader who defeated Hannibal through a war of attrition) as unnecessarily cautious. But Washington remained resolute. “We have some among us, and I dare say generals,” he wrote to Joseph Reed on June 23, “who… think the cause is not to be advanced otherwise than by fighting…But as I have one great end in view, I shall maugre all the strokes of this kind, steadily pursue the means which, in my judgment, leads to the accomplishment of it, not doubting but that the candid part of mankind, if they are convinced of my integrity, will make proper allowances for my inexperience and frailties.
Book cover: “Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution”, by Nathaniel Philbrick. (Viking via AP)Valiant Ambition, p. 104

Lawless: 14 Pastoral Time Management Tips

14-Tips-for-Time-ManagementChuck Lawless gives fourteen useful tips over at Thom Rainer’s blog. They are not couched in the productivity language used by David Allen, but the GTD ninja with their antenna up will certainly note some similarities and cross-over. So for example, Lawless says handle each item once, and GTD processes (do it or context it).

Move papers one time. Stacks of things to do frustrate me. The only way I know to avoid stacks is to deal with papers and documents quickly.

Lawless talks about inserting breaks in the work flow, reminiscent of 43 Folders’ Merlin Mann and his (10+2)*5 productivity hack.

Take regular breaks. The break need not be long, but even a few minutes can help you re-focus your efforts. Take a walk, go to the restroom, call a friend, throw a baseball, read the paper, go outside – do somethingthat re-energizes you for the rest of the day.

Several good things to chew on. One simple thing that I could immediately envision paying off dividends had to do with body posture when somebody “drops by” for a chat:

Limit the duration of drop-by visits by standing. If you sit with someone in your office, your body language suggests you have plenty of time to visit. Remaining standing – even going to the door and standing in the office doorway – is a simple way to say, “I’m happy to visit, but I have only a few moments.”

In my “Midwest Nice” context, I can see this working very well! Of course, there are other things Lawless suggests that I would struggle to accomplish (“14. Clean your desk every day before you leave.” He’s joking, right?!)

Of course, there are a lot of other things that need to be said for helping pastors with time management. Some tasks are sacred – sermon prep, prayer & study, evangelism, and discipleship. Pastors will need to guard those in how they manage their schedules. I remember the first week serving my current congregation, and by Saturday night I had but in a 55+ hour week and hadn’t taken one minute for sermon prep. Thankfully, I had written several sermons previously, knowing about a steep launch schedule. But what was most distressing was there was nothing all that unusual about the busy week I had just completed – it would be easy to be that busy every week. Pastors must set careful priorities.

Recently, I’ve seen more and more pastors tout the virtues of a virtual assistant (here’s one example). Research firms have recently made news due to current debates in wider evangelicalism. The extent that pastors could enlist the help of such organizations is something that needs to be thought out more carefully before being embrace, in my opinion. What strategies do you think pastors need to think about with regards to wisely stewarding their time?

Read the whole thing: 14 Tips for Time Management.

Productivity from Presbyterians in the 18th Century

I’ve written before on the inestimable Dr. Samuel Miller – whether on prayer, his online works, or his views of the ministry – but I stumbled across just a few biographical remarks that I found very encouraging. They even inspire in areas of productivity and GTD!

The great secret of his [Miller] being able to do so much, and to do it so well, was that he did everything systematically. He had a time for every duty, and one duty was not suffered to encroach upon another. In his personal habits and dress he was remarkably neat, without anything, however, of undue precision. In his manners he was polished and graceful, and duly attentive to all those proprieties which confer dignity upon social intercourse. Of the “clerical manners” which he recommended in his invaluable work on that subject, he was himself an admirable example.

Dr. Miller’s intellectual and moral character partook of the same beautiful symmetry that characterized his external appearance… He used to say that he loved to have a nail in every building intended for the glory of God or the good of man… There are few men who have an assemblage of intellectual and moral qualities so well fitted as were his to form a dignified character, or to secure a course of honorable and enduring usefulness…

He gave to his work all the energies of his mind and body.

Confessional Presbyterian (2005) p. 9 – 10

Miller’s output – whether as a pastor or in any vocation – was impressive. In our easily distracted age, his resolve to do everything “systematically” and in its appropriate context sounds like it would be championed by the David Allens and Stephen Coveys of our age. Even in putting this post together, I’ve felt the temptation to have a video playing in the background, check email and Twitter alerts, all the while needing to focus on a wholly other project. (I finally paused the vid clip to finish this out!) So Miller’s exemplary self-control and disciplined focus still seem incredibly relevant to me, at least.

But the above quote highlights that, for Miller, these virtues weren’t limited to his work life, but instead characterized him as a person. If I can’t allow my attention to be divided by various tasks screaming for my attention, there is a corollary to our public/private, work/personal lives as well. I can’t remember off hand if David Allen ever specifically addresses the person who practices GTD at the office, but then allows his personal, relational, and financial life to fall into irreparable chaos, but I can only imagine that (far from a “mind like water!”) this is frowned upon.

Miller was known as an exceptional doctor of theology, and his didactic efforts go beyond mere content to method as well. Reading of his voluminous output, I’m inspired and encouraged to have the same laser focus he exhibited.

Switching to Galaxy SII

I haven’t been able to put much interesting up here lately with too many other family and work commitments going on, and for some of those I’ll talk put some video and pictures up in the future. But one thing that took up a few days was running the whole family up to the Twin Cities, and on our shopping plan was to update our phone plans. My friends tease me for still being on T-Mobile (I think we were like their first customers in 1999), and for being so chintsy with our phones.
But all of that changed on this trip, when we fully updated our contracts, our handsets, and got caught up with the 21st century. I went with the pictured Samsung Galaxy S2, and my wife got the Tmobile G2x.

T-Mobile has been in the news a lot for their infamous buy-out from AT&T. But with this visit, at least, we saw a lot to like at T-Mobile. Continue reading

GTD on Pocket PC

Repost from an old article at What the Thunder Said… circa 2006.  A lot has changed since then – for example, I now use an HTC Touch Pro 2 rather than the (HTC built!) HP iPAQ 5555 – but the reliance on mobile tech for GTD, productivity, and so much more remains the same.  Some day I’ll update what I use now in mobile technology, but this was an important benchmark.

Reading: The following article… Googlenews… praying for Katrina victims
Enjoying: State Fair “Sweet Martha Cookies” chocolate chip cookies and milk
Listening: Nothing. Its too early…

According to this article, more and more people – from professionals to teens – are taking advantage of PDA devices to run their lives more smoothly. Where teenagers may be simply chatting and messaging each other with wireless devices, professionals are getting their email wirelessly, working with mini applications like Pocket Word and Excel, and getting directions from voice activated and self-speaking GPS locators on their unit.

Of course, this is nothing new to blund. As a “seminary student,” I’ve been relying on my Hp iPAQ 5550 for a long time now to keep me going. Besides maintaining three email accounts, surfing the net, managing all the paperwork for my part time job, creating papers, spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations (with wireless printing, nonetheless), listening to my mp3 collection, and running my blund blogs, there are few things my little pocket pc cannot do. I get all my news, weather, sports scores, movies, music videos, and daily paper on the little gadget. Perhaps even more amazing than all of this, is that I haven’t spent a dime on software, and other than the purchase for the initial machine (which should run anywhere from $300 – $500), I have spent only $130 on memory cards, an extra battery, a foldable keyboard, and a Bluetooth mouse (I’d like to get Bluetooth or nice corded earphones). A Pocket PC’s flexibility and useability are tremendous. Continue reading