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I think I've found a to-do system I like - Kanban

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The past month or so, the weekends have seemed like we've been doing nothing but running running running errands, but at the end, I never felt like I had accomplished much (though I know in my heart that that's a lie that my incarnation of All or Nothing Girl likes to tell me).

Recently I read about an on-line to-do tracker called Kanban Flow (kanbanflow.com) on Lifehacker, and just started using it this week. I did a little research on the site personalkanban.com, and discovered that the two rules are
a) Visualize the work
b) Limit the work in progress
I don't have connections to either company - just putting them out there so other people can research if they choose.
My understanding is that a) is to make it easy to see what is yet to be done, in progress, and done, and that b) is so one doesn't become overwhelmed or distracted - I tend to get overwhelmed, which causes paralysis.

Well, so far, it seems to be working for me. The columns on my board are:
Backlog - everything yet to be done - items can have sub-tasks, which is great.
To-Do Next - my staging area for the next things to work on (limited to 5 items)
In Progress - what I'm currently working on (limited to 5 items)

I really like moving an item from the In Progress to the Done column, and then choosing the next item from the backlog to put into the staging are.
I purposefully chose quick and easy-to-do items for my first weekend of using this system, and I accomplished 7 things on the list! It's really nice to see that Done column fill up - and the items are sorted by date, so I can see that I did 2 things yesterday and 5 today. In fact, looking at this makes me realize that I actually accomplished more, because I did quite a few things that weren't on the list:
- washed/folded laundry
- did a bunch of dishes
- trips to Costco and regular grocery store
- bought & returned shoes and did other miscellaneous errands.

I think the reality of to-do systems is that there are always going to be more things being added to the Backlog. However, while this weekend was just as full of running around as the previous 5 or 6 have been, right now I feel SATISFIED that I accomplished something. I'm attributing it to the power that seeing the items in the Done column has to banish All or Nothing Girl from the room for at least a little while. And, during the week, if I'm ever feeling overwhelmed, I can look at those DONE facts, and remember that I actually AM productive.

I must give credit to MOSTMOM1 for putting a name on All or Nothing Girl. She's always been around, but she's a lot easier to fight when I can name her and see her for what she is.
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