Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 13:
- Return of the podcast
- Progress with the support center
- New work with MailChimp
- Encouragement: Lana joins me today as we share our story of moving from Florida to Illinois, where we had no family, no friends, no house, no church, and no job. And the termite inspector said we should demolish the Florida house since we couldn’t sell it.
- Tech. Tip: Does your brain bounce around when you’re trying to study, write, or do other hours-long ministry work? Learn a technique to keep your mind sharp during these extended focus periods.
Resources mentioned in this episode
- Clockwork Tomato
- Pomodoro Time
- MailChimp (see Affiliate Disclosure)
- MailChimp for Missionaries series
Obviously, the return of the podcast is new. Originally, I thought I may have to wait until 2016 before I was able to start up again. Why? I knew I needed to focus on getting the Edify Hub support center filled out. There were several repeated questions from missionaries who used Edify Hub to create their websites, and I knew that trying to answer every question personally would not be sustainable.
Well, I now have many of the common questions answered in the support center. There will always be more questions to answer, and more features to add and explain, but for now, the backlog of work is done enough that I can start to return to my normal schedule again.
I’m also exploring some of the more advanced MailChimp features to better support those missionaries who are interested in building their websites with Edify Hub. So far, I’ve been personally evaluating and scheduling every application for a missionary website. If I keep that up, I won’t be able to help very many missionaries, so I’m working with my developer to use some of MailChimp’s automation features to help missionaries through the application and invitation process all the way through to completing their website – without my ever having to be personally involved.
Along with that MailChimp focus, I’m also seeing that MailChimp has made some minor changes to their website since I published my MailChimp for Missionaries series. I’m considering going back and revamping some of those articles to better reflect the current state of MailChimp.
If you’re interested in that MailChimp for Missionaries series, you can find it by visiting edifyhub.com/mailchimp.
And that’s what’s happening with Edify Hub.
Sometimes what appears to be God’s clear direction also seems to be completely illogical. I think of God’s command to Abraham to leave everything he had and everyone he knew – and without even knowing where he was going. I think God sometimes gives that kind of direction today.
Today’s conversation is a personal one. Listen in to hear a story about the questions and confusion that can arise when God seems to ask for a change in geography.
“Now what are we going to do?”
“What’s the next step?”
The path seemed to be clearing so well for the move to Illinois, and then that happened!
I still plan on making these monthly podcast episodes, but when a story is long enough to need two parts, I’ll plan to publish the following week, so be looking out next week for another Lift Up podcast episode to hear the conclusion of our story.
With my job, much of my day is split up into tiny fragments of time in between meetings – a half hour here, an hour there, fifteen minutes over here. But during evenings and weekends, when I’m working on writing or planning or other ministry with Edify Hub, I need to focus for extended periods of time – sometimes for hours on a single project.
It seems it’s not long before my brain starts to rebel, and I feel there’s just one more thing to do before I’m able to focus. I just need to refill my coffee cup. Or actually go make a pot of coffee. If I can just check email one more time – or facebook. And pretty soon, I’m off on a major distraction. On our last podcast episode, I mentioned RescueTime that lets me see how profitable my computer time is. But that report comes after I’ve already wasted time.
What I really need is something to help me keep my brain engaged in the real work that I’m trying to do at the moment.
As it turns out, brain studies have found that we are not always at our most effective when we try to maintain intense focus for hours at a time. Just like God created us to need a rest every seven days, it seems we’re also wired to need micro rests during periods of intense mental work.
I’ve recently started using what’s called the pomorodo method. Pomodoro is the italian word for tomato. Tomato? Is there some odd vitamin or chemical in tomatoes that helps us focus?
No. The name actually comes from the shape of a kitchen timer that’s often used to help make it work.
The idea is something like this.
Rather than trying to maintain intense focus for hours, set a timer for 25 minutes. You could use a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, or any other kind of timer you may have. But during that 25 minutes, you stay completely focused on the task at hand. No refilling the coffee, no checking email. Um, yeah – no going to the bathroom, either – which would be a good reason not to keep refilling the coffee, anyway.
But when the 25 minutes is up and the timer goes off, you stop working. Yes, seriously.
Step away from the desk. Think about something completely different. Let your brain rest while the timer counts down five minutes.
At the end of the five minutes, you’re back at your desk with renewed focus.
Part of why this works is that just knowing that the 5 minute break is coming can help with the willpower to stay focused. Part of it is also that stepping away and coming back again lets different parts of your brain work on the problem so you’re not stuck staring at the same details forever.
After a few cycles of 25-minute focus and 5-minute breaks, you take a longer break – maybe 15 minutes to prepare for the next few cycles.
You can do all of these cycles with a simple kitchen timer or the stopwatch app on your phone, but there are also dedicated apps designed to track these cycles for you automatically.
Using one of these free tomato timers to build in cycles of focus and mental rest, you can improve the quality and effectiveness of your brain work.
Today, you learned how you can gain focus and effectiveness during long periods of otherwise uninterrupted work.
You also heard how God worked in Lana’s heart and mine to lead us in a move that – to us – felt completely illogical.
Finally, we shared the progress of Edify Hub’s support center, some of our plans with expanding our use and understanding of MailChimp, and the excitement of being able to start the podcast once again.
Thank you so much for sticking around or coming back to listen to this episode of the Lift Up podcast. Once again, from Hebrews 12:12, I want to ask – who will you lift up today?