Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kan-Do

As with many other areas of my life, I tend to work in an intuitive way: whatever comes most to mind at any given point is what gets attention.  It's not an ideal way, and there's another side to my character which likes to be very organised and make lists and cross off the items as I go.  This side usually comes to the fore when the intuitive wakes up in the morning - or worse, in the middle of the night - with its brain buzzing and unable to sleep because there seem to be so many things that have to be done...right now!  If I continue not to be able to sleep, the more organised me gets up sometimes, makes a list, and sends the intuitive (and itself) back to a blissful sleep.  

Leaving work matters to the intuitive is only of value once you've started work.  Getting the intuitive to get moving is more of an issue.  Intuitives tend to get overwhelmed by too many projects being on the plate at once. 
 
In Evernote I came across a simple model for putting projects into perspective. It was devised by Toyota in Japan (get your genuine Toyota parts here!), and is called Kanban. 

With Kanban you have a whiteboard with three columns named Backlog, Doing and Done.  I wouldn't have thought a column for work that was Done would be necessary, but on second thoughts, it's valuable to have that sense of completion written down in front of you.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of writing and rewriting on the whiteboard, just use sticky notes.  While it's certainly easier to move them from one column to the next, there's perhaps some value in having to rub out and rewrite (in a new column) the various project items.  Just shifting bits of paper around can become exactly that: shifting bits of paper around...

Some people use different colours for different kinds of projects.  But don't get stuck on a colour scheme at the cost of getting started.

The first step with Kanban, is obviously to write down everything you need to do. This will probably show you that you've taken on too much but write the things down anyway.  This may be a time to ditch some projects, pass them on to someone who can do them better, or rethink their value.
 
Next, select five things you're committed to getting on with straight away. It's useful to make a mix of urgent and important items.

The next step requires discipline, but that's what the system is all about.  Get to work!  Move through the tasks and complete them.  Say No to suggestions of yet more things to do until your workload has been reduced.  Congratulate yourself on completing tasks.  
 
I haven't used this system - as yet - but I can see its merits.  I've listed out my projects, however, and they turn up regularly on Google Calendar, but there isn't quite the sense of progress there that I'd like to see.  I know that no system will actually make a person work when their inclination is to avoid the work, but all systems are worth a look if you think that there's hope of moving forward.  I need to move forward on at least three projects, probably more.  Maybe Mr Kanban can help....!  And can also help me see whether I'm overloaded and need to put some things on the back burner, or decide to forget about them altogether. 
 
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