Productivity Apps to Grow Your Marketing And Grow in the Gospel

Me and productivity apps. Oh boy. I’ll admit it.

I’m not prone to throwing fists. But the one person I want to sucker punch is the “uber-productive” business leader.

Sure. It would be a punch fueled by envy. But maybe I could play catch-up while he gasped for air.

Yikes, why so jealous bro? Because like you, I’m “aspiring-productive” far more than “uber-productive.” Those business leaders with their productivity act together make me jealous.

As soon as I see their blog post or email article, I spiral into self-demeaning talk and excuses.

  • I’m an unorganized buffoon. No wonder I can’t land bigger clients.
  • If I could just be like [Uber-Productive Leader], life would be so much better.

After a few lines, the crack between who I think I am and who I should have already been by now grows into a chasm.

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The Gospel And Your Productivity

Adopt a gospel sanctification approach to better understand and evaluate your productivity.

A chart of my sanctification would look like a half-century graph of the stock market. Some small growth. A few spikes followed by some crashes. Two steps forward. One step back. 

But by the grace of Jesus, overall growth!

The same is true of my personal productivity. There are ebbs and flows. Overall, there has been growth since I started my business way back in 2001.

Gospel Sanctification Is More Than Just a Handy Analogy For My Productivity.

The ups and downs of my personal productivity graph look like my sanctification graph because they’re connected. After all, I’m one person. ‘Productivity Robby’ is the same person as ‘trying to follow Jesus’ person.

The gospel project going on in my life affects all of my life. All compartments and categories get dumped into the gospel mixer. Ironically, this makes life simpler.

The Productivity “You” and Spiritual “You” Are The Same Person

This is clear from Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” For Israel, this meant no more juggling local deities. 

Imagine a shepherd looking at his daily calendar early Thursday morning. Today’s task: Take the sheep over three meadows, through a patch of woods, across a small dry creek bed, and finally to a small pond for a drink.

For him, this meant prepping offerings and sacrifices for the gods of the meadows, the god of the woods, the angry god of the dry creek, etc. That’s worse than a presidential candidate shaking hands, giving speeches, and chatting up donors in 12 swing states the day before the election.

The gospel brings good news. There is ONE God over all of life! Goodbye categories. Adios “business life” separate from “church life.”

A Simple Question to Check Your Productivity Against the Gospel

The older I get, the more I laugh at the folly of my own heart. I’m an idol-producing factory. Knock one idol off the throne of my heart, and I’ll replace it with another. While I stand over the idol I just knocked off like retired Cowboy safety Darren Woodson over an unconscious receiver, I place another idol in its place.

So here are two simple questions you can use to check your productivity at the heart level:

If your Personal Productivity is on the Uptick, ask yourself…

  • Is my recent productivity growth healthy or unhealthy?
    • Healthy: the fruit of the Spirit (self-control)
    • Unhealthy: fueled by a desire to grasp more (power, influence, recognition)

If your Personal Productivity has taken a downturn, ask yourself…

  • Is my recent struggle with productivity connected to other poor patterns in my life like…
    • ditching responsibility for entertainment
    • people pleasing and taking on too much
    • not asking for help from others to appear self-sufficient

One more thing. If your productivity is on the rise, brag on the Spirit and His work in your life. Share it with others! If you’re struggling, invite a close friend to bear the struggle with you.

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Practical Productivity Help for 3 Great Productivity Apps (And How To Set Them Up)

How about some help from a fellow “aspiring-to-be-more-productive” business leader?

Here’s how I setup and use 3 great productivity apps. One of these you definitely know. Two of these may be new to you.

I’ve talked about them over on my Church Planter Starter Kit blog

The Biggest Problem With Productivity Apps Is…

Knowing about productivity apps or tools is the first step. But several of my friends struggle at how best to set them up. These apps become “un-productivity” apps without the know-how to set them up. 

You know the routine. 

  • You hear about some new productivity apps.
  • You download one.
  • You open it.
  • You stare at it for a minute. Gulp!
  • You waste several minutes pointing and clicking.
  • You start feeling like a goober because you can’t figure it out.
  • You bail.

Today I’m going to show you how I setup and use three productivity apps: TextExpander, Evernote, and Workflowy. These three apps help me get more done in my work, marketing, and everyday life.

Set yours up right, and you’ll be more productive, save time, and grow your marketing!

First up, TextExpander. This nifty app lets you insert snippets of text using simple shortcuts. Choose between the standalone desktop version or the monthly subscription version to sync across devices.

You set up a text expansion with 1.) a shortcut you type and 2.) the text to expand. For example, to expand my name, I type the shortcut ;RF which expands to Robby Fowler.

I set up shortcuts for common things I  like:

  • my name
  • home address
  • website address

Get More Marketing Tasks Done With TextExpander

I’ve got text expansions setup for:

  • my bio
  • business taglines
  • product introduction boilerplates
  • business bylines

I use them all the time. I don’t waste time hunting down old emails with the bio to copy/paste. I don’t search through old docs for product descriptions. I don’t go to my social media profile to dig up a bio.

Bottomline, TextExpander makes me a better marketer.

Check the free resource guide for a set of startup shortcuts. You can set them up in under 10 minutes and save hours of time.

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Evernote helps you remember everything. You’ve heard of it or already use it.

I use Evernote most often on my computer. One of the keys to Evernote is tagging. My first note dates back to October 28, 2008. So I’ve got a lot of them. Not long after, a problem appeared. I had tag mania. I had so many tags I needed another app to manage my unwieldy list of tags.

I finally landed on a system. Now I can tag things:

  • quickly
  • consistently
  • effectively

Step 1: Setup Your Tag Buckets or Categories

Organize your tags the same way you organize your life. For me, it works best to think of tags under a few different buckets or categories. Here are my buckets:

  • Business/Personal
  • Time
  • Source
  • Topic
  • Favorite

I found when I go back to Evernote in search of something I’ve captured, 

  • Why did I save it? Example: It had something to with my Robby Fowler business.
  • When did I create/save the note? Example: I know it was last year.
  • Where did it come from? Example: I know it was something Michael Hyatt said.
  • What was it about? Example: It was an app to help with copywriting.
  • Why don’t I have this memorized already? Example: I use this all the time…I should make it a ‘favorite’.

After several iterations, here’s how I set up my tagging. Because I use it most often on my computer, I based my system on my keyboard.

Step 2: Pick a Weird Character for Each Tag Category or Bucket.

The obvious question is WHY!? Why the weird characters? So I don’t have to remember anything, of course. Let me unveil the mystery. It’s pure, simple, genius.

  • When you start typing a tag in Evernote, existing tag options appear. 
  • By starting EVERY tag with one of those 5 symbols, I never have to remember a category of tags. Or better yet, I never forget an important category or bucket when saving a note. So I never go, “Why didn’t I tag that note as something Ray Edwards taught me…I know he said it…where is it!?!
  • I never confuse tags. I don’t have 6 variations of tags around ‘swipe files’…or was it ‘swipefiles’…or ‘swipe copy’?

Here are the “weird” characters I use.

Glance at your keyboard—the top row that has the numbers. I chose the first five characters/symbols, left-to-right. So the first key is the tilde ‘~’ (hold down the shift key). The next is the exclamation point above the 1 ‘!’. Move to the right one more, and you have the ‘@’ above the 2. 

The final result looks like this. I start EVERY tag in Evernote with one of these 5 characters.

  • ~
  • !
  • @
  • #
  • $

Step 3: Tag Every Note With A Tag From All 5 Categories…With These Exceptions

First, tag every note with the business/personal tag. 

Second, tag every note with the year. (Yes, I know I could search or sort by year. But tagging the year works better for me and only takes 1 second.) 

Next, add the source tag, like ‘@rayEdwards’ if the source is memorable for you, and the source is common for you (ie not a one-off). If it’s a one-off, I don’t include an ‘@source’ tag and move on.

Fourth, add any relevant topic tags like #app, #design, #freebie. Every note should have a corresponding topic.

Finally, tag any note you come back to over and over again as a ‘$favorite’. Yes, you can add a note as a shortcut. But some notes are favorites, yet not worth cluttering my shortcuts list.

Get More Marketing Tasks Done With Evernote

I’m on my web browser a lot. I use the Evernote web clipper browser extension all the time. Setting up my tagging system as described above helps me store research clippings fast. Finding them later in Evernote is just as easy. For example, if I came across this article and wanted to save it for future reference, I’d tag it:

  • ~RF (work)
  • !2018
  • @robbyFowler
  • #productivity, #apps, #evernote

Finding it later in Evernote would be a cinch.  Then I could refer to it when writing my own article on a similar topic. Or share it on my social media account to serve my audience.

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This is my favorite app. It’s a lean, mean, organizing, productivity app machine. I use the web version and updated app on my phone and iPad. Let me explain the magic of WorkFlowy, since it may be unfamiliar to you:

  • Think of bulleted lists.
  • Now make them collapsable (fold sub-points, or unfold/show subpoints).
  • Now Zoom in/Zoom out (kinda like drilling down) so you only see the list you’re working on.
  • Drag, drop, reorder with ease.
  • Get all the clutter and unnecessary formatting out of your way. 
  • Capture the flow of your thoughts, meeting notes, marketing ideas, sales call outlines, etc.
  • Feel the power of distraction-free organization pumping through your veins.
  • Go conquer the world and be home by 4:55pm to the delight of your spouse.
  • As the fiery sunset drenches your ocean view, grab your spouse and…(ok, you get the idea).

How to setup Workflowy for better marketing and productivity

I use WorkFlowy for everything (with the exception of that last bullet point above).

The key to workflowy is to limit your top 2–3 levels of bullets to no more than 7. Your brain has a hard time organizing anything more than that.

Then once you drill down, you may have a Workflowy view with tons of bullets. For me, it’s a long list of articles under Robby Fowler work and another under Church Planter Starter Kit. That’s where I outline every blog post for each of my blogs!

The three things I love most about workflowy are:

  1. Drop-dead simple to use (minimal formatting and NO learning curve on any platform)
  2. Zero distractions (because you can Zoom down and clear the clutter)
  3. Context, context, context (because I can zoom out and expand or collapse sub-bullets to see where this fits into the bigger picture)

Get More Marketing Tasks Done With Workflowy

Workflowy is up on my Desktop 24/7. I get ideas for marketing, copywriting, articles, or podcasts all the time. I capture them and flesh them out in Workflowy.

Once I turn an idea into a blog post, podcast, or marketing initiative, I mark it complete in Workflowy. I can then hide or view completed items. I hide them for less distraction. I view them for reference to generate more ideas.

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3 Productivity Apps and Your Marketing: How They All Fit Together…

With the correct setup, these apps can help you get more done in less time. They can help you steward your time wisely and grow your business. With a little gospel reflection, you can also be set free from:

  • Comparing your productivity to other “experts”
  • Equating you being “more productive” the same as you being “more obedient” or “more loved”
  • Trying to manage “productive you” separate from “spiritual you”

Remember Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The more you rest in Him, the more productive you’ll be. The gospel is sweeter than the best productivity apps.

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I’ve put everything you need in this free resource. Download the Guide Now ».

Setup Your Productivity Apps

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