Monday, May 11, 2015

Four Free Apps Every Youth Pastor Needs to Increase Productivity

The Internet and the mobile Internet has changed the game in youth ministry.  My first church had dial-up when I arrived in 2000.  My current church is next door to wikipedia (literally) and has downloads in the 180mbps.  My first laptop was functional.  But my laptop and desktop today (I have both) as well as both of my mobile devices (iPad 3 and iPhone 5) are highly functional and productive pieces of machinery.

I'm always looking for new apps.  BTW: If you have an app suggestion that you feel to be particularly beneficial, feel free to leave it in the comments below and why you find it effective and I'll check it out.  (Always learning!)

Here is a short list of 4 free apps that increase my productivity and might help yours.  This, of course, is not exhaustive list.  And they are my "go to" favorites.  I'm always meeting people and youth ministers who have never heard of these.  Therefore, I share.

Four Free Apps to Increase Youth Minister's Productivity:

1. Evernote: What seems like eons ago, I used to carry a moleskine tablet with me everywhere.  I wrote down lists, ideas, thoughts, message prep, literally everything that I was working on.  About 5 years, a friend introduced me to Evernote (thanks DG) and I've never picked up a moleskine again.  Evernote is a free, cloud based notebook.  They give you 60mbs per month (plenty for text, pdfs and notes) for free (with an option to upgrade to a "plus" membership for $25/year or a "pro" membership for $50/year). At this point, I have been a free user for nearly 5 years.  I have over 2250 notes.  I clip sermon ideas, notes from conferences, lists, to-do items, blog posts, anything that I think will be useful in the future and everything I'm working on.  It works on your computer and mobile devices and cross syncs seamlessly.  So I have my notes regardless of where I'm working and I always have my notebook in my pocket.

2. Wunderlist: I have been a Wunderlist user for years.  Wunderlist is a free to-do list that syncs between multiple devices. It allows you to create to-do list groups (days of the week, projects, etc) and then add items and check them off when completed.  It also allows you to put reminder times on to-dos and due dates.  I like that it's simple.  The checked off items remain in the list, though hidden, and can be unchecked the next week if the same project is due.  There are a variety of to-do list apps out there... but they always seem to want to do more.  Wunderlist is just a to-do list app.

 3. Feedly: I mourned when Google Reader went away several years ago.  I had been a Google Reader for a long time.  Feedly offered to import my blogs in quickly and efficiently and gained a new customer.  It is a free RSS feed reader.  Feedly allows you to categorize blogs and read them on different platforms (desktop or mobile) and syncs what you've read and haven't.  The interface is clean and easy to use.  

4. Dropbox: I work on 4 different devices (a laptop, a desktop, an iPad and an iPhone).  Dropbox is a free cloud based storage program that allows me to store documents, pictures, etc in the cloud and assess from all the different devices.  It integrates with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on iOS so I can make changes on the fly.  There are other services that provide more space (Dropbox starts you with 2Gbs and gives you more if you refer (referral if you'd like one and want to give me extra storage).  But I'll trade less storage space for quicker service (OneDrive gives 15Gbs but is mercilessly slow).  Dropbox allows me to keep my active files on all my devices at the same time and work on any machine.

Honorable Mentions:

A. Podcasts: I listen regularly to a bunch of different voices: leadership conversations, youth ministry podcasts, other preachers, radio shows, etc.  Podcasts is a quick and easy way to listen and keep up with the conversations.

B. YouVersion Bible: Thousands of Bible translations, including all the majors (NIV, NLT, EV, etc) for free, in your pocket.  Thousands of reading plans ranging from a few days to a whole year and sections/thematic plans to whole Bible plans.  Plus, and I have found this to be time saving, you can listen to the Bible read if you are driving or working out.

Those are just a few of the things that are keeping my functionality high.  What's keeping you working efficiently?  Comment below! Working more efficiently allows me to get more Kingdom Work done!