In my previous post I recounted how I had come to the conclusion towards the end of last year that I had allowed my Work in Progress to overwhelm me. This necessitated me to pull the line in my Personal Kanban system both at work and at home.
Before I could restart the line, I had to understand what went wrong so that I could apply appropriate solutions. I also had to understand why I made these mistakes so that my solutions would address the actual root cause, not just the symptoms.
Too much work in progress at work
To start with, I had not limited my Work In Progress explicitly on my whiteboard at work. I had relied on the real estate in each phase column to implicitly limit the work in progress. But instead of heeding the physical limit, I had just found creative ways to stick new stickies over and under each other.
By doing this, I had violated the primary principle of limiting work in progress. And Instead of addressing the rather obvious visual indicators on the board I continued to deceive myself that this was just a temporary state of affairs that would be resolved if I worked just one more late night. How often does that happen to you, or in your organization?
Too many boards at home
In addition, I had taken the self-deception one step further and created a number of separate boards to keep track of personal tasks, hobbies and administration. Ostensibly, each board was under control. Work in Progress limits were in place and the phases were well below their limits.
What wasn’t visible was the lack of progress on each of these boards. Because I wasn’t explicitly measuring lead and cycle time (something I also wasn’t doing at work) it was somewhat easier to ignore the fact that some stickies were staying put for weeks on end.
The Human Factor
Between these two areas of my life, the sum of the parts was far exceeding the capacity of the whole … I was constantly tired and grumpy, and my stress levels were skyrocketing.
What was difficult to fathom was why I had allowed this to happen, after all my experience with projects and teams, and the calm balance we’ve started achieving with Kidzban. I certainly don’t have all the answers here, but I have come to some conclusions after some serious introspection:
- I generally set higher standards for myself than for others. This has always been the case, since childhood. Running a large backlog of work has therefore become the norm rather than the exception for me over the years. Although I’m much better than a few years ago, I have an inner voice that keeps pushing me to do more. I fact, when I introduce myself to people, I really should start with “Hi, I’m Maritza and I’m a recovering workaholic.“
- Superwoman Syndrome undoubtedly played a significant part here. Many working moms tend to overcompensate by taking on more than their fair share at work and at home. At work, it is to prove that being a mom does not make you less productive or driven than your male colleagues. At home, it is to prove that you’re no less of a mom and wife than any home executive.
- I love hobbies. In fact, I think my main hobby may be collecting hobbies. I am a true gatherer in this regard. I gather more hobbies than I have capacity for, and they’re usually ones that are consuming in some way or another, like blogging. Ehem.
Having come to these conclusions, it was time to act. The third and last post in this series will focus on the changes I made to improve things. But you’ll have to wait a week or two. My current Work in Progress does not allow more frequent blogging. 😉
This is Part Two of Three in a series. Read Part One.