Are You Just Doing Things?

Jim BensonPrimers1 Comment

I’ll bet you have a lot of things to do. bp1

Of course you do.

We all do.

A Personal Kanban anti-pattern that I’m seeing is that people are filling their kanbans with things to do and then…doing them.

They are becoming productivity machines. And that’s…really bad.

Look, there’s a limitless amount of things to do and you can become super efficient and do much more of them than you ever dreamed possible. And if you do that, soon you will burn out.

So I ask you, Why not figure out which work is important?

This happened to us recently at Modus. We had our board which we’d been using for a year. The backlog was filling up with tasks that could be done, but didn’t necessarily need to be done.

At client sites and in classes, we frequently use our own board as an example. And our board clearly showed this anti-pattern.

So we did a few things that I will recommend today:

1. Categorize the Backlog – We divided our backlog into sequestered categories of projects. This helped us see where projects were in their completion and what areas of work were taking up most of our time.

2. Clean Up the Backlog – Clean up the backlog by deleting old tasks that have aged out or that people want to care about but don’t really care about.

3. Pick Dominant and Secondary Projects – One project at any given time should be your main focus. There will always be immediate, context-specific, daily tasks you need to do – but one project should be focused on and completed. Secondary projects are those which need to be done, but are either not the immediate focus or are supporting that focus.

4. Clean Up the Done Column – Done columns can fill up, especially when we are hyper-productive. Soon we have our boards laden with stickies covering each other and we don’t know what we did, when we did it, or why we did it that way. Dirty done columns are worse than to-do lists.

What you might notice in these four steps is that we didn’t prioritize our tasks, we didn’t make big plans, we altered the board to flow better and our the relationship to the work to be more focused.

In the next four posts, I’ll talk more about each one in depth.
Written in Mesa, Arizona

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Jim BensonAre You Just Doing Things?

One Comment on ““Are You Just Doing Things?”

  1. Pingback: Clean Up The DONE Column | Personal Kanban

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