Tag Archives: 8 ways

a handout for presentation planners

You’ve got a presentation on Wednesday. You have two hours for teaching and discussion and brainstorming and planning. You have a simple subject: social media.

put out the fire of fearWhile the room is still empty, you need to think about what you can give the audience.

Some of you are thinking this sounds familiar. It is. I wrote back in October about 8 ways to get invited back. I talked about giving the audience a map, or a kit, or sandwiches or crack.  I was giving us a thinking tool to help us focus on what we want the audience to walk away with.

As I was working today on the project above, I went back to my categories in that post. I decided which metaphor I wanted to give the audience. It helped.

So I decided to turn the October post into a one page PDF you can hang on your bulletin board.

8 ways to get invited back (PDF)

I hope it helps you, too.



8 ways to look at six months

coffee cup and paperThat’s how much of the year is gone.

Six months. Seems like years. Seems like days.

I decided to give the two of us a way to evaluate these six months. I hope it helps.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or something) and sit on the deck and let’s reflect a bit.


1. I actually know more about these three people than I did 6 months ago.

________                  ________                       ________

1a. And here are three things I know about them.

2. If I add my blogs posts together, I have written this many words that wouldn’t otherwise be written: ______

3. Though I wish I’d done more, I have to admit that I’ve given this much _________ (time, money, stuff) to help other people.

4. Though it isn’t as much as I think it should be, I have talked to God _____________ times  and I stopped to listen _____________ times.

5. I’ve read about ____ (#)  topics.  ___% of them had nothing to do with my job.

6. I have told _______ and _______ how much I care about them _______ times a ________ (day/week/year).

7.  Six months ago I didn’t know how to __________ and now I do.

8.  Though the list keeps growing, I have to admit that I’ve crossed at least ______ items off my to do list every _____ (day/week/month).

Bonus: Go back and write the numbers and phrases and people that you want to be able to list on December 30.

8 ways to write this particular afternoon.

1. Sometimes it is okay to not write.

2. Sometimes it is okay to leave yourself out. (Just tell the story, not how you got there and why it matters so much to you.)

3. Sometimes you need to feel more before you write more. (Just put the draft away. Maybe readers need the mulled version rather than the immediate reaction.)

4. Sometimes it is okay to live parts of life unreported.

5. Brevity, though not obligatory, helps.

6. Sometimes it is easier to write the next post than the current post. (So start both and finish the second one.)

7. Sometimes your heart needs space to catch up with your life. Pay attention.

8. Sometimes you just need to start the tea. (That activity can jar your thinking)

remembering three words 8 ways

Some of us created lists of three words at the beginning of the year. But how do you remember them? Because it’s Tuesday and February, I figured we could all use a reminder about reminding ourselves.  (See Chris Brogan’s post on three words for 2009 for background.)

1. Create a wordle (wordle.net) of the three words and other words that matter to you. If you type the three words multiple times, they show up bigger. If I were good, I’d provide a wordle tutorial, but I’m not that good. (Besides, there is this issue of focus that I’m working on).

2. Let other people know your three words. They can help you find material or ideas or accountability. For example, I have a guy in Texas feeding me ideas and asking how I’m doing. (Thanks, Tim).

3. Explore your three words regularly. I’m doing it here at the Levite Chronicles. In fact, if you look back through my posts this year, you will find regular links to focus and to deliberate practice. Singing is my own problem and I’m not writing about it.

4.  Find opportunities to talk about your words in other settings. For example, I had the opportunity to do some training. I had my choice of topic. Of course I picked deliberate practice. The more we become our own experts on our own words, the more likely we are to do what we wanted to do.

5. Be willing to change your words. So your three words for the year become your three words for six weeks and then two of them change. Big deal. You are adjusting.

6. Write summaries of your progress. Whether in your blog or in a journal or using a Sharpie on your bathroom mirror, let yourself know that you are working on this list. You’ll be more likely to trust yourself in the future if you are holding yourself accountable to yourself for encouragement as well as criticism.

7. Lighten up.

8. On your calendar for April 22, write “three words review.” That way, after Easter, after spring break, around the equinox, you’ll have a reminder to think through what you are doing.

So, do you remember your three words?

not much year left

At the beginning of the year, I wrote an 8 ways post about goals and about accomplishing stuff (January 1, 2008) . With a month left in the year, I went back to that post to see what I had said, to see how I was doing.

I realized that the original post is worth reviewing as we get to the end of 2008. There is still time to redeem the time.

1. Ask yourself or your partner in accomplishing life, “list three words for the year.”
Rather than giving you a roadmap, these can give your heart direction for the year. (One of our words for the year is “smaller”, reflecting a desire to live more simply with many fewer purchases.) [This was a great idea, except that I don’t remember all three words. One was “smaller,” one was “simpler,” and one may have been “finish.” I’m hoping it was because this has been a year of finishing some things.]

2. Identify month-long rather than year-long goals.
This year I set a goal for August, for thirty days of posting. It was achievable because it was sustainable. I did the same for Advent. I’m planning it again for Lent. [The lent project turned into a group project, which was great And I’m finishing two months of posting tomorrow. And I’m still working with shorter-term goals. What about you?]

3. Talk next to rather than across from a guy.
Nancy realized that part of our success in walking and talking this year came because we weren’t looking at each other. I’m certainly not opposed to looking at my wife–quite the contrary. However, it is easier to talk while side by side. (The real principle here is that we need to make progress comfortable).

4. If “purposes” or “directions” are more helpful than “goals”, great.
Progress is more important than language.

5. Interact with people.
I’ve been stretched by conversations this year in ways that I never would have imagined at the beginning of the year. I think differently than I did…and so do some of the people that I’ve talked with. And the truth? Our projects may fail or fizzle, but the more we are deepening in relationships, with both other humans and with God, the less significant those projects are. [This has been ever more a year of meeting people and talking with people. And of having to remember how important that is.]

6. Let goals masquerade as things you want to do.
You think, “I want to read that particular book.” Do it. Then you will have read something, grown your world, given yourself something to talk with others about, challenged your thinking, and kept either a library or bookstore in business. (And here are some books to consider…from my “bookstore” or I could loan them to you)

7. Tell other people about what you are wanting to do in as direct or vague a way as you want to be held accountable.
There are a bunch of people who are really tired of hearing that we’ve been walking. The more we talked about it, however, the more we knew we needed to keep going. And as we were at the mall this morning, we noticed a couple we know who have decided to walk at the mall. So we’ll keep talking about walking. [They didn’t keep walking. We have. But I am also sure that we need to tell people our core goals. Or we’ll forget them.]

8. Forget about lists. Just live.
(Although ironically, just living can turn into a whole collection of 8 ways lists.)


Advent starts on Monday, December 1 (at least my book does). You could make one of your goals to use an advent calendar or book.

My advent ebook is available as a FREE downloadable pdf, advent2008, (Right click on the link to the left and save the file to your computer). Or leave me a comment and I can email it to you. It’s also a digital book on yudu.

8 ways people talking about intentional social media strategy may (still) be right

(This first appeared June 25, 2008. I think that the points are worth repeating and the people would probably appreciate new traffic!)

You know, them.

The people who suggest that you can be thoughtful and strategic about this blogging stuff.

I mean, the people:

  1. like Joanna Young, who suggests that you can generate a month’s worth of posts in 30 minutes. She talks about creating a mindmap with the theme of your blog. I tried it one day, while driving. I wrote one phrase, “affirming words” on the middle of a post-it index card. I generated 5 post topics in four minutes. They wrote themselves quickly and they actually were thoughtful and connected and significant.
  2. like Liz Strauss, who suggests that you can build an editorial calendar for different days, and that you can map out a month of blogging activities and control your blogging time rather than having it control you. A month ago I started a theme for Sundays. I’m working through the week the same way. (Note: the calendar idea is near the bottom of the post. It stayed with me for months before I realized that I could do it, too.).
  3. like Chris Brogan, who suggests that you stop just thinking about your personal brand and instead, actually do specific things in social media. I discovered that I have several things covered, but that I need to be more specific about a few more.
  4. like Becky McCray, who says that we need to learn to say no. Actually, Becky has said a lot of things to help me focus, but that’s one collection.
  5. like Rob Hatch, who is proof that people on the other end of social media are people. There are other examples, and you know who you are, but who’d have imagined Brogan’s and Hatch’s and Swanson’s in the same physical space at the same time?
  6. like Cheryl Smith who started a blog intended for public consumption but didn’t tell anyone about it until she had written enough posts to prove to herself she could. That kind of patience has borne fruit for her. (And she let me look ahead of time and helped me find some words from Isaiah that I had been trying to remember for months.)
  7. like Paul Merrill, who I finally believed about turning off the comment approval. It has freed up conversation wonderfully. (In the process, I also finally got wordpress set to email me each comment so I know. It hadn’t been working before.)
  8. like these faces who remind me by their daily patience and love that the core of social media is the social, not the media.

What I learned from stress


I’m supposed to write a post for Robert Hruzek’s group writing project. And the theme is “What I learned from stress.”

And I just know that he wants something about how stress helps us find out what we really believe rather than what we say we believe.

Or that stress in life is like the accent in a word…it changes the meaning and helps us understand. (content and content, for example).

Or that stress is a refining process.

But I’m not sure I’ve learned those things from stress.

Here’s what I have discovered, however about stress. I would say learned, but I haven’t learned these because I all too frequently act as if they are brand new:

  1. Stress fractures. I am more cranky then usual when stretched. And there is greater likelihood of thoughtless comments, of raised (or lowered) voices, of (more than usual) stupid words uttered. (In fact, I’m feeling cranky now. hmm.)
  2. Stress causes (adrenaline) addictions. I have this odd belief that I write better under pressure. It goes way back. As a result, I think I might almost intentionally put things off so I can get the rush.
  3. Stress, relieved, leads to migraines. You’ve read about my migraines before if you have been reading this blog. After unusually busy times with poor sleep and poor rest and poor silence and poor balance, my head explodes. Often not in the middle of the chaos, but when there is a moment of stopping. (They used to come on my day off. So I tried not taking one. But that wasn’t particularly helpful.)
  4. Stress, good or bad, wears.
  5. Stress causes candy corn. Or maybe it just leads to candy corn. Or coffee. Or donuts. Or whatever is around. (Oddly, it hardly ever leads to carrots.)
  6. Stress is. Can’t avoid it, it’s not life without it. And it’s existence can’t be denied.
  7. Stress is often a result of choices. When I decided to finish this post in a little window of time which suddenly took longer than I planned and means that I am now almost late to the next event, my choice increased the tension in my chest and the sense of needing to rush and the beginning of the excuse-generating mechanism and….i gotta go. I’ll be back later.

    [3.5 hours later, after discovering that the event was at 7:00am not 7:30am]

  8. Stress acknowledged and reflected on and managed and released teaches. Stress unexamined or examined trains. Training builds habits. Teaching builds understanding. (I know, oversimplified, optimistic. Deal with it.) We may learn nothing from the stress in our lives and our reactions to it and to other people. However, stress can train us…to avoid certain people, to pursue certain activities, to live in fear.

Now, go read the rest of the posts that Robert will link to. They will tell you all the good stuff that people have learned from stress. I’ll just sit here and relax. And eat candy corn.

8 ways to be productive with the next half hour

1. I’ll get some sleep as soon as I finish this post.

2. I wrote to Lowell, briefly, and a couple other people.

3. I still need to read the chapter, maybe in the morning.

4. I worked on the January project while driving this morning, realizing that it needs to start in December. I’ll tell you about it soon.

5. When I go to bed, i’ll probably take Psalm 4 with me.

6. Piles? What piles?

7. We walked through the “Oasis”, the four of us. That’s what they used to be called. Covered bridges, they span the tollroad in Illinois and house restaurants, restrooms and signs.

“Velcro available at gas station..”

We looked and laughed, all of us. Nancy and Andrew moved on. I pulled out my phone. Hope laughed. “I knew you would,”

I’m so predictable.

The sign? I don’t know what it means. My guess, because it was on a storefront at the oasis for EZ-Pass units, is that it is referring to the velcro for attaching the automatic toll-paying unit to the windshield.

8. A list? As a previous boss who spend time as a school principal used to say, “Your plan for the day evaporates when you get out of the car in the parking lot.”

She was right.

Thanks for playing.

Good night, everybody.

8 ways I could have been productive with the last half hour

1. I could have slept.

2. I could have written a couple emails to Lowell and others.

3. I could have read a chapter in a book I need to review.

4. I could have picked a name for a new blog project I want to start in January.

5. I could have meditated on one chapter from the book of psalms (111, more precisely).

6. I could have sorted out one of these piles.

7. I could have written a compelling post about the velcro sign.

8. I could have clarified my task list for the day.

In fact, I spent thirty minutes wandering, and all I got was this lousy post.

Unless, of course, it changes how I approach the next 30 minutes.

What’s in your next 30 minutes?

8 ways goes parenting

I write elsewhere on occasion. This week I took my 8 ways series to GNMParents.com with 8 ways parenting is not like real life.

Here’s a sample:

3. In real life what you wear matters most when you are a teen. In parenting what you wear matters most to your teen.
4. In real life sleeping late is a weekly reward. In parenting, sleep is a weekly reward.

For the rest of the list, head over here.