Stop Being Horrible At Communication

I am the first to admit - I'm pretty horrible at communication sometimes. But I have made a conscious effort in the last few years to communicate better and more effectively with my wife, my kids in the youth group, my church, and my church leadership. 

So how can you be more effective at communication? Here's some tips to help out.  

Minimize channels. Some of us have lots of ways we communicate. If you're tech savvy at all, then you may have more. Right now I can think of 4 emails, 6 different social networks, and 3 websites that I get communications from. All of my notifications come to one email. The sometimes overflowing river of emails and notifications comes all to one email address. If I don't do any serious communication on Google+, for example, then I set up my notifications to be virtually non-existent from Google+. I unsubscribe to 3 or 4 "accounts" per week to minimize how many emails I get a day. I even have pre-written TextExpander snippets to reply to emails and Facebook messages I get for routine things like speaking engagement requests and tech requests. But I have taken all of my networks and things and minimized it to one channel that routes everything to me in an organized fashion. Gmail is also a great product for organization and archiving as well. is a great free webmail client as well. You can have multiple email addresses for work, recreation, and organizations but route them all to one main email. 

Act on incoming data. Sometimes we can't respond right away to a question or request in a Facebook message or email, but you can act on that notification. Find an application (mine is Drafts for iPhone) that will remind you to get back to that message the next day. If someone has something urgent, they should call you. Otherwise, emails, messages, and other internet communications cannot expect less than a 24 hour turnaround. So whether you take a few minutes to respond to a request or mark it down for later, just make sure you act on it. Looking at a message on your phone or computer and making a mental note to "do that tomorrow" doesn't work. You'll forget someone's request or message and they might wonder if you're ignoring them. 

Get organized. This relates closely to our first tip. If you have a lot of speaking engagements, have an old fashioned paper calendar to write them down on in your office, or at least input them into a calendar app. Use Contacts Cleaner to fix up your iPhone or iPad's contact list. Give people ONE email, even if it is coming from different sources. Use Drafts to jot down quick bits of text and info for saving to Dropbox. Organize your desktop and computer to make it easier to find things on said computer (I used Alfred for finding whatever I need - I probably have 1,000 folders on my computer). When was the last time you organized your filing cabinet? Buy a pack of manila folders and get labeling. Case in point - my wife and I are buying a van this week, and we all know that minister's taxes and salaries are a little wonky, and having an organized, labeled filing cabinet let me grab files very quickly that I needed instead of searching for them. I was also able to pull down several things for our VBS this week and save myself a lot of time having to redo layouts of certain things - they were already done last year and in the VBS 2012 folder, so why do it again? Everything on your computer must have a folder, in my opinion. 

Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and become better organized and be a better communicator. Preachers, summer is a good time to get organized, and youth ministers, August may be a great time to reorganize for you.