Visualise Tasks (Personal Kanban) and Visualise Time Investment (Pomodoro)

There has been a good deal of discussion from me on the matter of personal kanban for managing the flow of life without losing one’s mind or dropping a major ball. A major point, however, is not the tool, but in how you use it. Kanban focuses on continual improvement, and in this particular perspective, discovering more effective uses of Personal Kanban in one’s life should be an effort of continual improvement on a metacognitive level. Although we are not done with 2012, this year has already marked a lot of improvement for my own ability to accomplish more without compromising quality and professionalism. Blog posts dedicated to continual improvement with visualizing tasks were provided in January, February, May, and July, with this blog identifying yet another improvement where I now feel is the ‘perfect system’ with the full recognition that it will improve yet again.

The last evolution of my personal kanban board gave visualization to my dreams so that they have a higher chance of reality, and shorter term decisions can contribute to those dreams. Yet another evolution has seen the following changes:

  • Separated the fantasies column into three areas: fantasies, areas that I’m pursuing, and areas that I’m actively pursuing that week. Therefore, that third column gets updated each week with a tag noting what specifically I’m doing to address it.
  • My meetings still have their own column, but instead of making an artificial Done column visual with all the meetings included, I simply add a tag noting that the meeting happened. My philosophy is that meetings are not accomplishments. They are a method to reach an accomplishment.

These are important changes on my kanban board, but the thing that really tripped me up was not visualizing whether I was killing myself or not. I can immediately see if I was productive, but was it unrealistic, i.e., working 14 hours a day is not practicing quality of life. This is where I came to the conclusion that the personal kanban board wasn’t enough because I was not about to enter the world of kanban metrics for my personal life. Personal Kanban is about visualisation of the tasks, not calculating cycle times. In my opinion, the vast diversity across projects, goals, dreams, family, and careers that are typically represented on a Personal Kanban board cannot provide meaningful or predictive data through cycle measurement. However, we should have a pulse for how much investment one is pouring, or ignoring, into aspects of our life. I resolved this for myself through a separate visual tracking system for Pomodoro iterations.

This has allowed me to estimate Pomodoro iterations across the major aspects of my life, providing more intentionality for the invested time I’ll spend for certain tasks. Already I can see that I really hit it hard early in the week, die in the middle, and then pick up steam throughout the rest of the week. This awareness helps me understand my own motivations and exhaustion, especially since the estimations do not include basic yet time consuming elements such as email.

Some things are simply repetitive and I want to ensure I’m doing something with them, such as working out, music, and watercolour. As we can see, a reflection on how I could better incorporate watercolour would be useful.

This does not mean that this resolution is the perfect answer for you. My husband uses a very different system that works great for him. However, if we continually expose ourselves to new ideas and methods, these effective systems will continue to allow us to live effective and fulfilled lives.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

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