Dear family, friends, and followers,
Occasionally, people joke that they have no idea what I do. I will be honest, it is hard to explain sometimes. I tell people I’m an author, but the truth is I do a lot more than write books.
I like to look back each month and examine where I spent my time and how well I progressed towards reaching my goals. It helps me stay accountable and I hope it helps explain what it is I actually do all day.
My 2019 Goals
My One Word: Together
90% / Double the number of members of The Religion Teacher (December 2017 to present) (+1%)
5,000/5,000 copies sold of Christ in the Classroom (Goal accomplished!)
218,541/1,000,000 words for kids (A part of my #1millionwordsforkids goal) (+4,022 words)
1/4 new published works of fiction on Amazon.com (+0 published books)
7/7 paid speaking gigs (+0 / Goal accomplished!)
472/500 Resources (Videos/Worksheets) for Members of The Religion Teacher (+19 resources)
72/100 books read (+5 books)
21/73 Books: Read the entire Bible from beginning to end. (+2 books read)
87/100 30-minute workouts (+9 workouts)
Incomplete / Play Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” on the harmonica.
How I Spent My Time in November 2019
I track every minute of time I spend working on projects using an app called Toggl (here is why). Here is a list of the top ten projects I spent the most time on last month:
- 20:41 – The Religion Teacher’s Advent Activity Pack (Revised)
- 13:06 – Speaking (Washington, D.C. & Huron, OH)
- 13:05 – The Religion Teacher Email & Customer Service
- 5:02 – Daily Review
- 4:38 – Weekly Review
- 4:21 – Morning Preview
- 4:12 – The Religion Teacher’s Advent Activity Pack (Revised) Launch
- 3:59 – The Religion Teacher’s Saints Worksheet Collection
- 2:22 – The Religion Teacher Videos
- 2:19 – Pre-writing & Brainstorming Stories
Total Time: 91:39
November 2019 Highlights & Lessons Learned
Revising Original Resources (Advent)
One of my goals for this year was to revise my two most popular resources for The Religion Teacher. In the Spring I released a new version of The Religion Teacher’s Lenten Activity Pack and in November I updated and revised The Religion Teacher’s Advent Activity Pack.
First, I was glad to see that so many of the lessons and activities stood the test of time. Years later, I still use the lessons in my own classroom. Nevertheless, there were a lot of new resources that I wanted to add. Most of all, though, I wanted to apply the principles and process of my new book, Christ in the Classroom, to the lesson plans. The result was a much better and more effective set of teaching tools that aligns with my vision for more encounters with Christ in class for kids.
The Milestone Method: The Journey to 500
I can’t remember how much I’ve written about The Milestone Method of motivation as an artist in these monthly reports. It has been the single, guiding strategy behind the work I do each day. It is the reason I set a goal for myself to write one million words for kids by the time I turn forty. It is also the reason why I increased my production on my big “one thing” goal in November. I wrote very little fiction because I wanted to reach another milestone as quickly as possible: 500 downloadable resources for members of The Religion Teacher.
When I first launched The Religion Teacher membership website, there were only 48 videos and worksheets. Now there are nearly 480 and I’m trying to get up to 500 as soon as possible. It will be a big milestone and one I am excited to celebrate. There are a lot of members of The Religion Teacher today and I’m so glad I get to wake up each day and create more tools for them to use in class.
After hitting the 500 mark, I’m going to turn my attention back to the one million words for kids goal in 2020. I will still add new worksheets and videos each month for members, but my biggest effort will be to write books that will help kids encounter Christ on a daily basis.
Speaking: A Homecoming
I was honored with a special speaking engagement in November. My home parish where I grew up invited me to speak at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the building of the church. It was a true honor. I saw so many people I knew so well in my youth. The audience was very kind and I am so grateful I got the chance to be there.
It was an extra-special experience because my family got to see me speak for the first time. My wife and children there in the audience looking up at me on stage.
Most of all, though, I was glad that my mom was able to come out for the event. She died due to a rapidly-growing leukemia less than three weeks later. It was a very special final memory for my kids to share with her.
Needless to say, she was very proud. It was the only time she saw me speak on stage. It was also the only time she wore her wig after her cancer treatments. 🙂
She was always my biggest fan. I will miss her dearly.