4 Free Apps That Will Accelerate Your Team Productivity
The Problem Has Changed.
Only a few short years ago, we in the church world had a certain problem. We had work to do, teams to connect with, projects to complete - and very few affordable tools out there to help make it all happen.
Now, we have more tools than we know what to do with. There are dozens of church management systems, "to-do-list" apps and project management tools for your computer, device and/or tablet.
The problem is no longer a lack of tools, the problem is now an abundance of tools and the challenge of determining which ones to use. The problem has indeed changed.
It's like when you go to The Cheesecake Factory. The menu is so big, it takes forever to decide what you want and you're always worried there was something you missed and would have liked better.
Church teams are utilizing great tools all over the place but they have to choose which tools to use or they will keep trading one system up for another, causing a sort of tech fatigue among the people who are forced to use them.
That's why I made this list.
The following are 4 of my favorite productivity tools, some of which are not yet widely used. I've provided a basic description of what each does and some of their unique features. Also, all of these tools are pretty easy to use.
So here it is, my list of helpful (and free) productivity tools.
Slack is a communication and collaboration tool that replaces email and texting for teams. This app is widely used in the business space but has been slower to make its way into the church space. Because it is widely used, it is well developed.
This free app downloads onto all of your devices and compartmentalizes your team's conversations into channels; including you in the conversations that are relevant to you and keeping you out of conversations that are not. I start a slack team for every church I work with.
Slack not only allows channels and direct messages to channels (groups of people) and individuals, but it also keeps conversations organized and stored. You can drag and share almost any file type, integrate with an insane number of 3rd party applications, customize your notifications, and much more. The biggest downside to this app is if you have a team member that doesn't use a mobile device AND isn't next to a computer during the day, it' harder for that person to stay in the loop.
There are TONS of task and project management tools out there. People are always asking me which one they should use. The answer is, whichever one works best for you.
I know that's an annoying answer but the reality is, everyone uses a different app for managing their own to-do-list and some people still prefer paper. So trying to get a whole team using the same one is pretty tough.
That's why I love Taskade. This app allows you to create simple (or complicated) tasks, assign them to people, organize with headers and much more. No big deal, right?
What's unique about Taskade is it has a feature where you can easily create a custom link that will allow you to share OR embed a read only OR editable list with ANYONE. This means no matter who you have on your project or what they use to manage a to-do-list, you can share the master list with them regardless of whatever apps, devices, or accounts they have. The coolest use I've found with this app is I can do a project with a church, embed the task list into a webpage, and the list is always up to date and all they have to do to see where the project is at or check something off the list is check the webpage.
Check it out, it's pretty cool
Zoom is a video conferencing application that allows you to quickly and easily hold remote meetings with your team. There's a lot of obvious reasons why this is important but one not-so-obvious reason is perhaps the changing face of the typical church staff.
You see, it's becoming more and more common for church staff members to work part-time, bi-vocationally, or even from a distance. This makes having a meeting can be pretty tough, which can slow down the pace of getting things done. With zoom meetings, the meeting still happens, work still gets done, and you can even use this space for fun and fellowship.
There's a number of video conferencing applications out there and at this point, many have the same great features. I prefer zoom because of the ease of logging on for "first timers" and the free version they offer for folks who don't need all the advanced features. At the end of the day, it's really about the sound and video quality and the seamless ability to share your screen with the other meeting attenders. Zoom is excellent at all these.
The fourth and final tool is one I simply could not live without. Figuratively of course. Screencastify is an application made by google that very few people use or even know about. Quite simply, it allows you to create a simple screen flow (video) on your computer. This helps with quick demonstrations and tutorials for your team.
Now, you can certainly do this kind of thing with quicktime as well as other basic applications that already exist on your computer. The problem is, once you create the screen flow, now you have to save it somewhere and then compress it to a small enough size to email or upload somewhere. This is where Screencastify shines.
Screencastify is a Google application and connects with your Google Drive account. So once you finish creating your screen flow, Screenfastify automatically uploads the file to google drive and gives you the option of uploading directly to your You Tube channel. Once the upload is complete, Screencastify gives you a dedicated link you can share with anyone, allowing them to view the video you just made via Google Drive or You Tube.
It used to take me 20 to even 30 minutes to make a 10 minute tutorial because I had to edit, compress, and upload a file. I can do all these things in Screencastify and in almost no time. The paid version comes out to about $2 per month, and so it's totally worth the investment to have unlimited screencasting time and some of the extra editing tools, but the free version works nicely too!
Well, of course it's not. There are tons of other tools out there.
But I hope these help you connect and work better with your team; and of course, if you find yourself needing some extra help, feel free to schedule a call. We can talk about putting together a custom workshop for you and your team.
Founder and Lead Catalyst for Clearpath.Church. Josh is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is passionate about helping small churches find their voice. Josh lives with his family in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.