How to Use a Calendar to Keep Up with Prayer Requests

Faith-practicing professionals can use business tools to stay focused

Prayer calendar“I’ll be praying for you.”

Do you ever say that to someone and then promptly forget to utter a prayer for them? Worse yet, in a few days they say, “Thanks for your prayers…this is an update.” Gulp. You intended to pray, but your busy life and work distracted you.

There is a tool out there that manages our work (and personal life.) A calendar. So why not utilize it for your prayer life too?

Here are some ideas for how to use a tool such as Google calendar to keep better track of items you wish to pray about.

  1. Create a separate calendar. One thing I like about Google calendar is that you can create separate calendars for specific needs (i.e. menu planning, professional commitments, etc.) and layer the calendars for a full view as you wish. Color coding these layers is even better.
  2. Enter most requests on this calendar as “all day” events. This places the requests/topics at the top of your calendar. When you add in your other calendars, prayer items remain at the top.
  3. When appropriate, set an appointment for prayer before a particular event. For example, if you know a friend has an interview at 2:00 on a Tuesday, you can set an appointment for yourself to pray at 1:30. (You could also just note it as an all day appointment with the time, i.e. Sheila’s interview: 2:00.)
  4. Create recurring requests for items that you will pray about regularly. For example, you could have a daily prayer for a spouse, child, or other family member. Earlier this year, I set up specific requests based on Scriptures for my husband and son (I used sources such as what you can find searching “30 days of praying for your spouse/child.”) I used enough entries to create 90 days of Scripture prayers, setting each one up to recur every three months on the 1st, 2nd, etc.
  5. Utilize the “notes” section for more details. For example, I added the actual Scripture verses so they can prompt my prayer.
  6. Sprinkle in other recurring items. For example, if you’d like to pray for particular friends regularly, why not add them and have their name pop up every so many days? Or if you know of a specific concern that is ongoing (i.e. someone in the military, a couple having marriage troubles, a chronic health concern) you can use the recurring feature to remind you of that item on a regular basis. Bonus: you may be surprised how the timing of that prayer can be just right for them. Sometimes you may decide to let them know you prayed for them today and it is amazing how that encourages at just the right time!
  7. Set up a routine for reviewing your requests. I have Google calendar on my phone, and also have it sync with my Samsung calendar app. Many mornings, I start the day with some Bible and general reading in bed before I get up. In the Samsung app and my Google Now cards, I get an readable list of my calendar items for the day…a prayer list already in place.
  8. Be reminded throughout the day. If you keep Google calendar nearby (ie on your phone or desktop or sync it with something like Outlook) you’ll see these prayer items reside on the top of your calendar throughout the day. This is a nice prompter for those conversational or quick “breath” prayers.

 

You may be busy, but you can still pray. With a strategic process for remembering requests, you too can stay connected with the Lord on behalf of others even while juggling a busy schedule.

 

The Co-Worker You Do Not Want to Be

Do you identify with any of these?

CA-annoyingA stress producer at work?

Irritating coworkers.

I bet any of you reading this could name one person at your workplace (or a client/customer) that rubs you the wrong way

But do we ever consider that WE could be the irritating co-worker? Hold a mirror up today and see if you fit any of these descriptions. (Names chosen are random and genders are alternated for ease of reading.)

Chatty Cathy: is friendly to a fault. She talks non-stop, to the point that co-workers find alternative routes to common areas so that they do not have to pass by her desk. She wears people out.

High Energy Hank: you always know when Hank is in a room. He comes in like a whirlwind, never quietly. His chaotic running around the office, loud voice, and fast pace can cause coworkers to cringe when he comes near.

Melancholy Marie:  Marie sighs every she walks by. She seems to be carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and can’t wait for the end of the day or the weekend. You’d like to cheer her up–you’ve even tried–but nothing you do seems to take her out of her funk.

Gossipping Gary: Gary always wants “in” on the latest rumors and secrets. He is super curious and want to process out loud with any coworker who will feed into the rumor. He likes to talk about others because deep down it makes him feel superior.

Lying Louisa: You never know if you can trust what Louisa is saying. She may not tell outright lies, but she exaggerates, promises things and doesn’t come through, and makes commitments she won’t be able to keep.

Controlling Carl: Carl loves to have things done his way. He has a hard time adapting to any change in processes, especially if over the long-haul the processes have served the company well. But it’s hard to get Carl to understand that adaptations and flexibility are often needed.

Driven Debbie: Debbie is all about success–in her measurement of it. She’s driven to get things done but in the process often steps on the feelings of those around her. They all feel that it’s all about helping Debbie reach her goals, not the overall good of the company.

Hurrying Henry: Henry is always on the move. He lives full speed. He’ll conduct conversations while passing by in the hallway, which sometimes can lead to gaps of information. When someone does want to slow him down to discuss something important, he will, but people in the room will feel like he wishes they would get through their agenda quickly.

Superior Susan: Susan has been promoted a number of times and feels she has earned the right to treat other employees like her minions. After all, she worked and clawed her way up the ladder and did her time doing the grunt work. She doesn’t realize that servant leadership is most effective the higher up you go.

Over-committing Owen: Owen says “yes” so often because he truly is likable and wants others to like him. The problem though, is that because he says “yes” without thinking, he ends up dropping a lot of balls, which only irritate the people around him over time.

Which of the above “people” is YOU at the workplace? I can see myself in some of these folks. No one is perfect and a first step is to realize the negative tendencies we may harbor.

 

Keep Your Desk–and Brain–Uncluttered with this Simple Tool

7 Ways a White Board will Help You be More Organized and Productive

dry erase boardOne of the most important tools I use on a daily basis is a whiteboard. I’m not talking about a wall-mounted board, but a small one that sits on my various desks/workspaces. Along with the white board, I have several fine and ultra fine-tip dry erase markers of different colors, and often pick a color of the day to use.

I use my white board to:

  1. Jot quick notes. In one situation where I regularly answered a phone, the white board allowed me to quickly jot the name of the caller before announcing the call or taking a message. I can then erase it.
  2. Do minor brainstorming or figuring. If I need to work a quick bit of math, jot a couple of ideas or copy bits of temporary information from the computer screen, the white board is great for that. I can erase the calculation when I’m done or transfer the ideas to a more permanent place.
  3. Doodle. It’s nice to have a surface to just doodle on for a minute or two, to give the mind a creative break.
  4. Replace sticky notes. I’m not a big fan of affixing sticky notes all over my workspace. For me, that’s too much distracting visual clutter. Often, sticky notes are not permanent information, either, and they start to blend into the surroundings rather than be tossed after they are no longer needed. A white board, however, only has so much space to use before you need to erase it
  5. Write down reminders. If I think of something while in the middle of another task, I can jot it down and keep going. Then during the transition to other things, I can either do that task or move it to a more permanent task list.
  6. Keep track of a count. If I’m preparing statistics, for example, I can temporarily use slash marks or numbers to record my count before transferring them to a permanent record such as a spreadsheet. (For example, once I was tracking the number of meetings being held in a room per week. While looking at the room reservation calendar, I was able to note the quick count on my white board before adding it to the spreadsheet.)
  7. Breakdown my schedule. I use my calendar to reserve large blocks of time (i.e. for client work, or to work on my blog, etc.) Within those blocks, I like to get more specific based on the day. For example, I may block off three hours for client work, then use a white board to jot the more specific plan such as:
    1. 9:00-9:30 Client 1
    2. 9:30-9:35 Quick break
    3. 9:35-9:50 Client 2
    4. 9:50-10:00 Break, answer a couple emails or knock off a couple quick tasks
    5. 10:00-11:00 Client 3
    6. 11:00-11:15 Break, miscellaneous emails/tasks
    7. 11:15-12:00 Client 4

(Several of my clients only need a little bit of work done at a time.)

I love having one simple tool on my desk that can be used and erased during the day and then left blank for a new day. It helps keep the desk–and my mind–uncluttered.

PS: a pad can be used for these ideas as well, but carries the danger of becoming another piece of paper that hangs around your desk. Sometimes, though, I like the feel of paper and pen. Just be sure to get rid of pages after you are done with them.

7 Ways to Manage Your Energy Levels for Peak Performance

Improve your productivity with these tips

CA-energyAs a busy professional, you likely have highs and lows in your week…times when you feel a burst of energy and can get a lot done, and times where you feel lethargic or ready to take a nap. When you add an unusual element into a week (i.e. a business trip) your rhythm and energy level may be impacted even further. Here are some tips to help you plan for those “low energy” times so you can manage them more effectively.

  1. Acknowledge that you WILL have low energy times. We often expect too much of ourselves and want to sustain at the same pace all the time. That is unrealistic. There will always be an ebb and flow of energy. Give yourself grace.  You’re not Superman or Superwoman. The rest of us can see that. :)
  2. Try not to plan activities or meetings that will demand high-energy at days and times when you typically don’t have that level of energy. For example, if you are not a morning person, planning a weekly early morning breakfast meeting may not be a good idea.
  3. Nourish yourself in a healthy way. Get to know your body’s needs and feed it well. For example, instead of depending on only a piece of candy or a cup of coffee to jazz you up, accompany it with a high protein snack. Keep healthy choices handy at your desk or in a lunch bag. Sometimes I make power smoothies to take with me and sip on throughout the day to avoid the hungries. Take a cat nap a couple of times a week during your lunch hour. Use your break times for true breaks like stretching, getting some fresh air, or reading a book purely for fun.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Water helps in so many ways and when your body is working more efficiently, you’ll feel more mental energy too. Think of water like you do gasoline for the car–it’s wise to keep the tank full for the long haul.
  5. Plan cushions. One cushion I often need is the re-entry time after a trip. I love to travel, but a trip with all its elements can be mentally draining and the first day back can be a low-energy one. It’s best if I can have several hours or even better, a full day to ease back into the normal routine. If you can’t have a re-entry day, try to plan a light task/meeting list for the first day back at the office (i.e. don’t dive back into major projects or creative work.) This allows you to catch up on email, refocus on your regular responsibilities, and reconnect with people and news you may have missed.
  6. Get outside regularly. There’s something about connecting with nature that reminds you that the world is a much bigger place than your little corner of it. This can dissipate those draining mindsets that come from too much self-focus.
  7. Exercise. You knew this was coming, right? Exercise is a challenge because it may not be something we enjoy. At the very least, find some way to incorporate extra movement into your days. Wear a pedometer and work on increasing your step count. Make a habit of taking a walk at lunch time 2-3 days a week. Incorporate some form of exercise into your morning routine. I have a stationery bike in my master bedroom that I try to use three times a week right now.

How about you? How do you manage your energy levels?