Method to the Madness

I may have a great deal of artistic dreamer in me, but at the end of the day being organized is what keeps me productive. I cannot focus without systematic organization of some sort…but I will admit that too much kills the creativity so there is a balance. Organization allows me to execute ideas and projects that would otherwise remain simply ideas. I used to live by post-it notes, my spiral bound planner, and a dry-erase wall calendar. But, these days my organization has gone digital. I thought I’d take a minute to share some of my favorite apps and a bit of my workflow for getting and staying organized.

A few months ago I went looking for a more robust task-management system. The twittersphere offered up several suggestions. I tried Action Method for a bit but it didn’t stick for me…I think it was the lack of a desktop app…not really sure. I also tried out Things and it stuck. I’ve been using it for several months now and love it. The desktop app is a one time $49.99 and the iPhone app $10 I think. A small price in my opinion for getting and staying organized. The only feature I’m still waiting for: over the air syncing…right now it only syncs on a wireless network.

Things is my to-do list. You can set up areas of responsibility as well as projects within those areas. I really love, however, that I can add a to-do item that doesn’t fall into any of those categories…it just kind of floats. I can also schedule due-dates for items and even set them to repeat. For me, part of being able to create and dream is emptying my mind of distractions or things I’m trying to remember. When something comes to mind I put it into Things and then I can forget it. Since reading Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
I’ve been more disciplined at making sure the to-dos I put in are action steps…breaking projects down if necessary. At the start of the day I take a minute to rearrange the items in my list for that day in order of priority. Sometimes the list gets cleared. Other days, things get rescheduled because something else important arrises. I’m learning to be okay with that. :)

This is a huge aggregation tool for me. I use it to collect ideas, articles, blog posts, conference notes, business cards, etc. If I find something I think I may want to remember I clip it into Evernote and file it in a variety of notebooks I have set up. I love the search capabilities and the fact that I can access it from my desktop or my iPhone. The things I put into Evernote are meant to last…they’re things I want to keep for future use and reference.

Simplenote & Notational Velocity
I started using this app duo after Scott McClellan wrote about it on the Collide Blog. It’s been great for capturing quick, random thoughts, important information, or just keeping details about a project within quick reach. Also, if I’m in a meeting or conversation and don’t have a paper journal with me, or just want electronic notes instead of handwritten, it’s great for that on the phone or desktop. For me, what goes into Simplenote isn’t meant to be permanent. I sort through it once a week (I have this scheduled in Things) and either let ideas/thoughts sit there and marinate a bit longer, delete them, or turn them into action steps in Things. Simplenote is more original thoughts & ideas whereas Evernote is often inspiration I’ve collected. Both of these are free apps. Simplenote is the iPhone version & Notational Velocity the desktop app but they sync over the air.

If something has to happen at a specific time, it goes in iCal. It is my appointment/places to be system. I don’t often put meetings and such into Things…I like to keep those separate from my task list…just how my brain works I guess. But I also don’t like to clutter my calendar with too many “to-do” items. There are two things I have in iCal so that I can get an alarm on my phone for them everyday – one is an Idea Capture and the other a Photo Capture. Just two things I attempt to use to make myself stop and take time to create for the sake of creation…not for a project or product.

Paper Journal
Yes, there are still times when I go analog. There is something about the physical act of writing that I like when it comes to recording long term goals/dreams/big ideas. There are also times when I’m in a meeting or conversation with someone and prefer handwritten notes to typed. Eventually though, everything in my paper journal ends up in one of the digital apps. Sometimes I file the notes/thoughts/ideas into Evernote for long-term keeping. Sometimes they go into an ongoing note I keep in Simplenote called “Blog Ideas” to marinate a big longer. There are others that become action steps in Things. I go through this paper journal about once every other week and filter things into Evernote, Simplenote, or Things. Sometimes, there are things that end up staying in the journal itself to marinate a bit longer.

So, there you have it, my favorites. Do you use any of these tools? What are others you use?

Story Isn’t a Strategy

I love the concept of story. I believe in the power of story and would call myself a storyteller. Story based communication is often the most powerful and has the longest lasting impact and potential to incite transformation and action. Bottom line: story is good.

However, I think we (I’m including myself in that) get dangerously close to using story as the latest “technique” or “strategy.” And I think in the process we are going to ruin it. Story is powerful because it’s relational and God designed us to be relational beings. When we turn it into a strategy or technique we strip away that relational quality.

I think we’d see a greater impact if we stopped trying so hard to tell a good story and instead we focused on simply living a good story. Because if we live a good story I think communicating in story will naturally flow out of that. I think we need to find a way to be intentional without being strategic. When we become too strategic we quickly lose focus of why we are really doing what we’re doing in the first place.

How do we do that? Short answer: I don’t know. I think I know what it looks like when I see it, but I can’t yet define how to get there. And maybe I never will…maybe it looks different for each individual/organization.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Photo Friday…Fall in love



I love Fall. It is by far my favorite season. I love the snow in Winter. I love the return of life and the freshness of Spring. And I love the nights of Summer. But, there is nothing quite like Fall. It’s a season worthy of being called Autumn…it carries with it a sense of sophistication and confidence. The warm sun and the cool breeze. Crisp mornings perfect for a hot cup of coffee and evenings that are ideal for sitting around a campfire with friends. It seems that Autumn is a time of regathering…after everyone has been in and out on Summer vacations, we settle back home in Fall and spend more time pouring into relationships. I like that. As cheesy as it sounds Fall really warms my heart.

What’s your favorite season? And why?

Learning to Love Random

“This is so random”

I’ve uttered that phrase more and more as of late and I’m learning to love it! I used to be a schedule and routine freak. When my routine got thrown off I got bent out of shape. It drove me crazy because I liked being in control. These days, I’m learning to be okay with not having control. I’m learning to love random. I’m learning to love my routine being thrown off…or maybe just learning to find routine in the random. In fact when I have too much routine now I get bored. Crazy how things change :)

When I say “life is so random” I usually mean that things aren’t going as I would have guessed…that reality isn’t matching the picture I had in my mind, and that I feel like I’m hanging on for dear life…in a good way! (This post is just one example) It reminds me of something a friend tweeted several months ago: “I don’t know all the mysteries of God, but I do know this: when you’re in His will, you are hanging on for dear life, not forcing things to happen.” Maybe it’s not so much that life is random but that God’s plans are different than mine. And living the life He has designed for me means rolling with the punches and hanging on for dear life.

Are you a lover of routine or do you welcome the “random” in life?

The Secret’s Out

Have you been following the buzz around #secretsoutOCT5? Perhaps you read something about it on the Orange Thread Media blog, saw a tweet about it, or read this post from Stephen Proctor about it. The team behind the Playback Drive isn’t just continuing to dream big, they’re doing something with their dreams. I’ve got nothing but love and respect for these guys and am so excited to share their newest project with you! If you missed it, Luke McElroy from Orange Thread and Stephen Proctor broke the news today via livestream… is live. is the first website dedicated to resourcing the multi-screen community. Their heart truly is for community and relationships in everything they do and this is another step. If you use multi-screen set ups for events, worship, or anything in between, I think will quickly become your number one source for content. I got a sneak peek at the site a couple of weeks ago and the content is top notch! Not only will you find great stuff from Orange Thread and WorshipVJ but also from two of my other favorite producers, Awake Images and Thr-ve, among others.

I know you’re curious…so, what are you waiting for? Take a minute and check out the site: Sign up for a free account AND get 12 free credits to use on the site! Want a few more details? Check out this post on

And I’m curious…how many of you use multi-screen set ups on a regular basis?

Waiting for Silence

Silence is a funny thing.
I hear it in the early morning hours as the sun is just coming up
in the hum of city streets in the distance
and in the still of the night under the stars.
I hear it in crashing waves
and an empty church building.
I hear it when conversation and music meld together in a coffee shop
and in the comfortable break in conversation with a friend.
I hear it when I close my computer and walk outside
and when I turn off my phone.
When I hear it I see it
and when I see it I hear it.
And I always feel it.
Sometimes it’s golden
and other times it’s absolutely deafening.
Sometimes it’s like a burden lifted
an unexplainable peace
and sometimes it’s a weight too heavy to carry.
On the days when I think I need it most
it seems elusive, taunting me to catch it
but it remains just out of reach.
And so on those days I surrender
I sit in the noise and wait
wait for the silence to catch me.