For my everyday “productivity” tool, I use a custom mix of practices adopted from Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Allen’s Getting Things Done, and Agile. In the past week or so, I felt uncharacteristically overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. As is typical in complex situations, the root causes were multiple (although easy to identify): we’re buying a new apartment and moving soon, we have a big family event coming soon, and (because life is not fair) got hit with several family emergencies.
Fortuitously I was in the middle of Jim Benson’s Personal Kanban – a book that was on my reading list for far too long. I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Benson’s keynote at Agile By Example a few years back and it opened my eyes to a lot of subtleties of tracking working via Kanban. As I consider my self a proficient user of Kanban, the book did not hold revelations (although I still heartily recommend it), but it did knock me out of my funk.
I had to set up temporary Crisis Kanban to get the important stuff handled!
That evening we set down with my wife to set everything up. Lacking a good whiteboard and wanting portability, I settled on having each value stream be a separate piece of A4 paper labeled with the name and relative importance. Tasks went (obviously) on stickies. Columns were the most simple possible – Backlog / Doing / Done. This allowed us to inventory all we had to do.
We agreed to make sure to close at least one task per day each. In the evening, we review progress and list out the 2-3 tasks e want to tackle the next day. \
Suddenly I’m much calmer.