Welcome to Orcmid's Lair, the playground for family connections, pastimes, and scholarly vocation -- the collected professional and recreational work of Dennis E. Hamilton
Productivity: This Is Not a Kanban
Since I cleaned up my work space somewhat last March, my attention to productivity techniques and management of my commitments has spiraled into nothingness. My open loops are more prevalent and more open than ever. I stopped working through the startup for Totally Relaxed Organization and I haven’t opened my TROG Bar in months. My only Getting Things Done practice is to empty my in box (except there are 56 orphan items there right now). It’s been so long, I completely forgot that I was ever participating in a Zen Habits Monthly Challenge.
Here Comes the New Methodology, Just Like the Old Methodology
I’m going through self-help productivity techniques the way others go through weight-loss programs. And with no better results.
My devolutions is so complete that my entire structure for managing commitments has degenerated into pages in a notebook (#63 in the current series) and an accumulation of Post-It notes of random incomplete tasks.
The small white note with the checkmarks was created on a hotel-room notepad in London last May. I’m still carrying it around along with my morass of open loops.
There are other places where I keep commitments tucked away on my computer. They are also shuffled around and ignored.
I Will Be Fooled Again
I rarely examine any of these items with critical concern for how the tasks are actually to be accomplished. I’d have to face up to their not being done while I am busily not doing them instead.
And now there’s Personal Kanban. I’m a fan of David Anderson, although I have no opportunity to apply any of the agile management methodologies. Although I appreciate that kanban methodology has been a powerful instrument in the work of teams, I mostly just glance at the various accounts. The lingo is mysterious and the application seems even more out of reach in my personal situation.
That changed when I saw twitter updates from David Anderson and then Jim Benson on the possibilities of a Personal Kanban. I began to follow along and browse through Benson’s series of blog posts on the topic. My buddy Bill Anderson and I created weekly (weakly) checkpoints on taking steps to understanding the kanban methodology from a personal perspective.
The Essential Reality Check
I see appealing features after an initial look at Personal Kanban. I want those features in raising the bar (now so low) on my personal productivity and effectiveness.
I also realize that my application of Personal Kanban is doomed to the dustbin of forgotten methodologies. The common factor in the recurring result of my experience is me. Not the methodologies.
To have a different result, I must work differently.
Where I Stop
After a few hours and days of mixed success, I stop looking at the structure that holds my current commitments. I just don’t look there to true myself up. I indulge distractions and eventually the new methodology has disappeared. Lately, I seem to end up in worse shape than before I began.
But before that point, I stop in another way. All of the recent methodologies I have examined start with housecleaning followed by housekeeping. I take out some trash, but never all of it. I cling to it and don’t let it go. Or, I don’t want it but cleaning it out is overwhelming and I never create an occasion for accomplishing that. Or I clean up piece-meal, insisting to myself that when I get things organized, I can then be organized. Mostly, I get distracted from all of this and eventually forget to clean up the mess, which remains in its piles around my office and elsewhere in the house.
I was in a conversation on how I am the poster-child for methodology failure. Here are my other indulgences:
OK, Where From Here?
It was suggested that someone needs to take a kanban board down and hit me over the head with it. I need to be the one to do that. Plus empower others to be ruthless with me when I go off the track.
I am going to apply Personal Kanban in my life. It will be fun to deal with the details of the techniques. But the real accomplishment will not be in messing around in the technical and conceptual nuts and bolts. It will be my stepping beyond my automatic approach and having Personal Kanban win for me.
If I fall down, I will get up and keep dancing.
(1) make sure you get a Nerf kanban so you don't injure yourself.
(2) keep it as light as possible
(3) you may need to consider that you are Dennis. Always will be. And that procrastination may well be part of your work style.
(4) kanban is not your Mom or a police officer. Give your kanban a hug and let it love you back.
Jim said what I was thinking, although I didn't know it. A long time ago I learned that part of my style of learning involves side paths and seeming distractions. I'm not the Type-A firecracker that seems so lauded. So be it.
My personal kanban experiences include some of the same old familiar issues I have with work. But it is helping me to focus on a few things I find important. In that sense something is working for me.
Like any kind of cleaning - I experience the same kind of issues when cleaning the house - it is really a matter of stopping discussing ( head place ) and moving to doing (action)sometimes with as little thought as possible. Analysing lack of progess also is a way to not proceed when one already knows what has to be done. I think it is part of the human condidtion.
A hug from your sister who also has more projects than she can do in a lifetime. But gads that makes life worth looking forward to each day! Love ya bro, Carol
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