At times we all feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the jobs piling up, whether in our email inbox, or in our own to-do lists. Many are overwhelmed all the time. It's as if our lives are being driven by that pesky list of demands. It feels like they are pushing us, each vying for first place in our attention and our efforts.
Well, it's time to stop being pushed by our work. Instead, try pulling your work through.
This week in our Leading Yourself online Workshop, we are going through a module called, From Push to Pull, where we explore the technique called Personal Kanban. Kanban boards originated in lean manufacturing as a powerful way for teams to improve their internal communication and performance. Then Kanban became a common tool used within Agile development teams, so much so that many now think Kanban originated with Agile.
Many now think Kanban boards originated with Agile.
A few years ago, I read Jim Benson and Torianne DeMaria Barry's Personal Kanban. I was hooked. I introduced it into my Organising Yourself Effectively workshop, and people loved it. It became one of the most popular tools that we covered. Stories came back of how clients had adopted it into their working lives. This was yet another example of people discovering the personal power of tools used more commonly in a project management context.
Personal Kanban became one of the most popular tools in my personal organisation workshop.
Here is one of the videos in the Workshop, using the online platform Trello to illustrate the personal kanban.
This isn't the first time I've written about Personal Kanban or Trello. A few months ago I posted a piece called, Tools that evolve with our work.
To become free, we need to think free, and not like victims.
As the above video shows, though, there is something quite powerful about the idea of choosing to pull work through, and not being pushed by it. To become free, we need to think free, and not like victims. Personal Kanban, simple though it is, can help us with that move to freedom in our daily work.
Do you use kanban for your personal organisation? If so, leave a comment below. If not, what do you used?
If you were told that unless you made a lifestyle change you would die, would you change?
Would you, though?
Research shows that you're probably wrong.
In this video, I report on some fascinating research first made known by Alan Deutschmann. The results are surprising but hopeful.
What emerges is an unlikely but compelling story of how we are influenced much more effectively through our hearts than our heads.
One of my favourite quotes comes out of this research:
"Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear." Dr Dean Ornish
For most of my career I have sought the changeless, timeless principles - in project management (in my contribution to PRINCE2), in programme management (in my contribution to Managing Successful Programmes) and in my work on Stakeholder Engagement (see Practical People Engagement). You will find principles in all these, many written by me.
Yet I have to admit that, setting aside superficial lifestyle changes and different technology, the world or work now has some very different forces at play to those I was aware of in the 20th Century. This video explains why.
Leading Yourself Online is a unique series of workshops where I will coach you through the framework I set out in my book, Leading Yourself. It aims to help you:
For an idea of what impact my workshop called Organising Yourself More Effectively had, watch this video interview with Jemima Alder of ResMed, a global medical business.
I will be bringing the best of my workshop experience to the online program, where you can join me and an exclusive community of fellow Leading Yourself Online owners. You will benefit from their shared experiences, as well as be encouraged by their own stories of breakthrough in their work.
'Leading Yourself Online Workshop is a unique program.
If designed it for the busy manager, who cannot afford the time to attend a physical workshop.
However, this is a time-limited offer. Registration is only open until Noon GMT Tuesday, 17th January ... and then we start the series of workshops.
If you want to get on this workshop series, then you need to act quickly... because we soon will be starting.
If you're ready to gain real traction in you work, to get organised and work unfettered, then your next step is to click the button below and get registered on this unique program.
See you there...
One of the fundamental problems the western rationalist mind is that it finds it hard to think in non-linear terms. Our thought processes habitually follow the linear, “If I do this, then I will get this, and then I will achieve this” kind of mental narrative. We can find this works, but only in limited contexts.
In the world of engineering, marketing and projects, to name but three fields, we are learning to think more iteratively: to revisit and rework the results. This is more like thinking and moving in circles.
W.E. Deming, the American quality guru who was credited with revolutionising post-war Japanese manufacturing advocated his classic PDCA cycle:
Practising this led to continuous improvement. Manufacturing results improved because of attention to the feedback and improved as a result. In marketing, deliberate A/B testing yields similar results. In projects, we are learning to iterate, improve our estimates and customer satisfaction.
I remember a situation comedy on UK TV a few years ago called “Ever Decreasing Circles.” It had a hapless hero who always found himself in a spiral of frustration.
Circular thinking has had a bad rap. I’d like to reframe circular thinking as “ever increasing circles.” That is to say, that some circular workflows become more and more powerful.
Shall I go over that again?
[reminder]In what ways to you iterate positively in your life? I’d like to hear from you. [/reminder]
For a period of time, a friend of mine prevailed on me to take up golf. To begin with, it seemed like I was doing random gardening on a long walk. I became very conscious of my muscle movements in a swing, which club to choose, and experimenting with little rituals, like the number of times I looked up at the target spot I was aiming for. I also became aware of two things that could undermine my performance as the game progressed: my inner emotional state after a ridiculously bad shot, and my physical stamina - or lack of it.
For me, golf was like random gardening on a long walk.
I realised that the inner game of golf was all about self-awareness. What I became acutely focused on was being aware of my muscle movements, grip and so on. If I made a bad shot, I would attempt to adjust and see if I got a better result. I was constantly correcting myself.
In yesterday’s post, we looked at the Apollo 11 mission and how the accuracy of the launch targeting was a delusion; the reality was that they landed within the lunar landing zone by a process of constant correction - a sort of feedback loop.
Then I moved to talking about a more personal kind of feedback loop, the Daily Heads-Up technique that I use for my personal organisation.
At least every week, I review, hone and improve my key workflows.
Feedback loops can operate at different cycles, such as at:
In each case the feedback loop provides the opportunity for us to correct our course, to learn, and to get better results.
In the next post, I’ll look at how neglecting the course corrections, the feedback loop can hinder our effectiveness and growth, and why it is so easy to neglect this.
Today I’m connecting with my ‘inner geek.’ When it comes to stationery, particular stationery, I become a geek. One of my favourites notebooks is the A5 Leuchtterm 1917 145 x 210mm notebook.
Also, I use a tailored form of the Bullet Journal.
And today these two combine for me into one beautiful whole, because Leuchtterm has published its own bullet journal version. My cup runneth over!
I ordered mine from the good people at Bureau Direct.
Having written a book about personal organisation over this summer, I became acutely aware that my own personal organisation has evolved and continues to do so. This is normal and good. In fact, one client has shared with me that he does the same.
It seems that as we continually work on ourselves using the artefacts of stationery, apps and organisation systems, we are actually improving our self-leadership.
I’m also aware that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to personal organisation. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. This keeps me humble. It stops me being a legalist. There is no “one right way” of doing this personal organisation thing.
[shareable]Evolving your personal organisation system is normal and good.[/shareable]
For example, some people will get on with the Bullet Journal, others will prefer, say, the GTD system, still others will combine the two.
That’s all very good. The process of refining and improving my personal organisation system doesn’t lead me to the same result as everybody else, but the process helps me to discover my style and to improve my personal organisation in the process.
So despite my geeky tendencies, I have come to the conclusion that techniques and tools – including my beloved stationery – although worthy in themselves, are simply the elements around which we develop the most important and powerful forces in our lives: our personal routines and habits.
[shareable]It’s never about the artefacts. It’s how you use them that counts.[/shareable]
In my book and in my workshop on Organising Yourself More Effectively and my associated online courses, I review the Bullet Journal system with some respect. It is simple, elegant and can easily be tailored. It’s the use of it that I develop daily routines that serve me well.[shareable cite=”Aristotle”]We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.[/shareable]
Overall, it is important that I keep my inner geek in check. After all, it is the system, the routines and the habits that serve me in becoming more effective, not the lovely stationery.
[reminder]What are your personal routines that you find powerful? Do you use the Bullet Journal system? How do you use it?[/reminder]
When I began writing Leading Yourself, the working title I started with was “The Soul of Personal Mastery.” ‘Personal Mastery’ is a term much-loved in leadership academies, so I explored the idea of mastery. ‘Mastery’ has some negative connotations, so I backed off from it as the central label and moved to the concept of self-leadership.
However, my research returned me to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition, something that was referenced by the APM’s L&D team at one of their training providers’ away days. It appears that we may be investing in the wrong kind of learning solutions for some skill levels, and perhaps under-emphasising other kinds of solutions. Continue reading
My son Robin is a remarkable Agile software developer. He runs a company called Degu. Currently, he is developing a pretty cool business model around his film workflow management software. He has invited me in to advise him on strategy.[shareable]We need tools that can evolve with our work.[/shareable]
When the business is effectively YOU, you have to be very critical about your priorities and your choices. So I’m pleased to say Robin is reading through my new ebook on Leading Yourself. He is an avid practitioner of Personal Kanban, a technique I explore in the book. Both he and I use Trello.com for our personal and team kanbans, so he shared with me his current board. I thought it was worth sharing here because it illustrates how he is owning the process and the categories and continually reworking them to suit his circumstances.
For example, he has a very interesting set of labels for his cards.
Also, his Board has developed on from the standard To Do/Doing/Done to what we below.
As well as his “Backlog” column (otherwise known as the “To-Do” column), he has moved to using a “Stuck!” column. This allows him to park otherwise-frustrating work in this column and come back to it later. He is finding that when he does this often he finds that that piece of work becomes un-stuck and he can move on. He also has a couple of other columns I haven’t shown: “Mentor” and one for a key client/partner. This illustrates to me that Robin is working on his workflows and not becoming legalistic about them. They are evolving, as indeed his working life is evolving.
Increasingly I find progressive knowledge workers like Robin need the flexibility of tools like Trello and techniques like Personal Kanban. These tools and techniques help us think about our priorities and work areas dynamically as our work contexts and careers evolve.
Have you ever wondered whether your efforts at self-development are really paying off? Do you sometimes feel like you are just treading water in getting better at your job? How we really get better at something is a critical issue of time, money and effectiveness.[shareable]How we really get better at something is a critical issue of time, money and effectiveness.[/shareable]
For years now I have been a student of how we truly progress in skill… in anything.
In particular, I’ve looked at these skill sets: