How I’m Getting Things Done with Field Notes

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles 

Field Notes are the clever, collectible (and thus, a bit addictive), design-focused notebooks that all the bloggers rave about. They really are fun, fairly affordable, and quite useful.

I use my Field Notes as my pocket notebook. It goes where I go to capture thoughts and ideas while out-and-about. I also use them to plan out my day.

When I’m disciplined, it goes like this:

  • At night, I’ll prepare the page for the next day by writing the day of the week, month, date, and liturgical feast if applicable at the top of the page.
  • Right below that I will write down the readings for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Daily Office.
  • On the left side of the page, I will list the most important things I’d like to get done for the day (no more than six usually). As the day goes on I just capture item below that to make a running list.
  • On the right side of the page I’ve started making a simple daily agenda from 9-5 with any hard commitments I’ve made so I can see my day at a glance and add to it as necessary.

I’ve used Patrick Rhone’s Dash/Plus system (similar to Bullet Journal) as a quick way to indicate meta info on each list item.

Here’s what a typical daily page looks like:

 

I use a Pilot G2 .07 mechanical pencil to write in my FN, which I love, because the metal tip retracts when not in use, making this a pocket-friendly pencil.

If you want, you can get tons of nice covers for your Field Notes, but they’re fine without, as long as you are okay with your notebook developing some character. I like having a bit of extra protection for my notes, so I had a cover custom made from this Etsy shop.

 

How I’m Getting Things Done with Trello

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles and Say hello to Trello, a new tool to organize your life and ministry

I have a “team” in Trello called Trusted System. Within that team I have six boards:

  • Next
  • Projects
  • Tickler
  • Someday/Maybe
  • Reference Lists
  • Horizons & Areas of Focus

Next

My Next board has four lists of cards:

  • Inbox – for throwing stuff in as go throughout my day
  • Waiting for  – anything that needs to get done ASAP but I’m still waiting on someone else’s action (reply to an email, etc)
  • Next – Stand alone physical next actions ( for example “move bookshelf from living room to hall nook”)
  • Agendas – One card containing a list of things to talk about, per person need. There’s always agenda cards for my wife, bishop, associate pastor, administrative assistant, plus a few others as needed.

I use Trello color-coded “labels” for contexts. My contexts are:

  • Home
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Read
  • Phone
  • Errands
  • Anywhere
  • Laptop

Projects

My Projects board contains anything that that requires more than one physical next action. As I review this board every week, I add physical next actions to my next board. I have two lists on this one:

  • Current – Projects that are active
  • Pending/Delegated – Similar to “Waiting for” on my Next board.

Reference Lists

This is a pretty flexible board that just contains any lists I need on regular basis for reference. Mostly just packing lists as this point.

Someday Maybe

My Someday Maybe board has six boards, each with stuff I’d like to do eventually, but are not at all pressing. As I review this I move these things to the appropriate places on my Projects or Next boards. My lists are:

  • Personal Projects
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Writing
  • Stuff to buy
  • Home & Family

Tickler

This functions as a complement to my physical tickler file and my digital calendar. It is made of four lists:

  • January – March
  • April – June
  • July – September
  • October – December

As I go through the year I drag the current quarter to the left so it’s always the first one I see. I use this to put date-specific reminders, files/confirmation numbers I’ll need etc.  This is for stuff that needs to happen around a certain date/month, but is not set in stone. So “schedule eye exam – January” I’ll just throw in January-March. When I review this board, I’ll move stuff to the appropriate place as needed: Projects, Next, or my calendar.

Horizons & Areas of Focus

This board is made up five lists. The first list is Mission and Core Values. The first card contains my personal mission statement:

“Help others discover and grow in the great love of God.”

Below that I have a card for each of my core values:

  • Spirituality
  • Family
  • Fellowship
  • Fun
  • Service
  • Stewardship
  • Creativity
  • Rest

In each of those cards I have a list of core habits I try to cultivate. So in the “Stewardship” card I have:

  • Spend less than I make
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week
  • Review calendar weekly

The other lists are “areas of focus” or “spheres of life.”

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Parish Priest
  • Musician

Each of those lists has four cards:

  • Desires – Specific ideas of what I want to be like in these areas
  • Actions – Concrete ways to move toward the vision (no more than 3 at a time)
  • Challenges – Thinking ahead to possible obstacles
  • Vision – A description of  the big-picture “end result” in each of these areas

Why I observe Lent

I had been in an emotional and spiritual struggle for years, processing how the Body of Christ could be so defined, so marked, by division, quarrels, and willful ignorance of each other. My spiritual journey had led me right into the middle of some of those painful internal wars, and I hadn’t escaped without getting hurt. Continue reading Why I observe Lent

What I learned about the Holy Spirit from my wife’s life-threatening blood clot

About two weeks ago now, my wife Amber noticed some swelling in her left leg. She was experiencing some pain and discomfort, but (being the strong woman that she is) wasn’t sure about getting it checked out. After a call with our midwife, however, she decided to go in for an ultrasound.

Now, when you go in for an ultrasound, they usually send whatever results you get to your primary care physician. The ultrasound technicians themselves aren’t doctors, so they’re really not supposed to give you any information, because they very well could be wrong.

Nevertheless, Amber knew something was up when the tech kept looking at her mid-ultrasound and asking, “do you still feel okay?” and then about 10 seconds later “how about now? You okay?”

And then a little later, “you really need to see your doctor, like…right now.” Continue reading What I learned about the Holy Spirit from my wife’s life-threatening blood clot

If your heart belongs to God, so does everything else

When my wife Amber and I married each other, a lot changed for both of us in the days immediately after our marriage. For instance, we went from two separate bank accounts to one, joint bank account.

All of a sudden someone else could see everything I was spending my money on. I remember well the days before I got married, when I could buy video games and technological gadgets without really asking anyone for permission, just because I wanted to.

Those days are long, long gone.

Things changed because I became responsible for more than just myself.

Before we got married, I had a car and, Amber did not. After we were married, if someone asked Amber if she had a car, she’d say yes, of course I do. My things stopped being my things and became our things. In effect, my stuff became her stuff. And while it took some getting used to, I really didn’t mind. Why is that? Because the relationship was worth it.

Because on a summer day in 2005, I gave Amber my heart, and everything else followed from that.
Continue reading If your heart belongs to God, so does everything else