A Merry Personal Kanban Christmas

Things have been a bit quiet on the Scrumfamily blog since October. With Silly Season in full swing our Personal Kanban strategies have been working overtime, though. How else do you survive the merry-go-round of school concerts, end-of-year functions,  as well as preparations for family and holiday events while winding down your work year?

With our household settling down happily after Christmas Eve dinner, I’ve taken some time out to share with you how we’ve stayed sane in the run-up to this year’s festivities, using Personal Kanban in both hi-tech and lo-tech ways.

Keeping Track of Gifts

Inspired by this lovely example of kids creating  a prioritized Santa Backlog, we decided to do the same this year, incorporating a variety of our existing Personal Kanban tools and practices.

Gift backlog, with blank stickies for new requests

Gift backlog, with blank stickies for new requests

Step 1: Creating the Backlog

On the first weekend of December, we hit the major toy shops with the kids. They had a ball roaming around, handling and pointing out items to add to their lists. Dad and I trailed along, iPad in hand. For each new request, the kids helped me create a card (different colours for each child) in an iKanban project. Cards were ordered by priority, and moved up and down as reconnaissance continued.

Step 2: Grooming the Backlog

At home that evening, I converted their gift backlog to a physical backlog with stickies. Over the next week, they could review and move items around, or add new items.  By the end of that week, they had to be sure of their priorities so we could write Santa and mail the letters on time.

Step 3: Communicating the Sprint Backlog

Christmas stocking with letter on tree

Communicated Sprint backlog

On the following weekend, the boys wrote their Santa Letters, running up the stairs every so often to check their gift backlog on the upstairs landing. Writing these wish lists had never been this easy. Each of them knew exactly what they wanted and we were done in no time. We popped their letters in their tree stockings, ready to be mailed the next time we passed the Santa mailbox at the local toy shop.

We are now patiently tracking Santa to monitor final delivery. We have it on good authority that the elves wrapped up their part of the work almost two weeks before Christmas. 😉

Preparing for Christmas Weekend

I enjoy the trappings of Christmas, especially cooking and baking up a storm. Nothing spells home comfort to me quite like the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house.

But with us celebrating on our own, without the extended family, I was to be chief cook and bottle washer this year. And  since I was still working until the 23rd of December, I had to plan carefully to make sure that everything got done on time.  This was one project where the deadline was rather firm and could not slip!

One Week: Breaking Down the Work

To help me manage the various value streams, I relied on iKan. It was the first Kanban app I ever installed and I still prefer it when I need multiple ad hoc projects that require quick and easy setup and simple prioritization.

With Christmas Eve 7 days away, I created three projects to track the Christmas Baking I planned to do each evening, additional Christmas Goodies to buy and the Christmas Menu I was planning.

This approach worked like a charm. By Thursday evening, I deleted the Christmas Goodies project, since there were no outstanding items to buy to support the other two projects. By Friday evening it was clear that I had planned to do too much Christmas Baking. There were two more items on the backlog, but the cake tins were  full. I guess they didn’t make it into this Christmas edition.

Kanban on a tray with stickies in To Do

Kitchen Kanban on a Tray - Compact and Mobile

One Day: Getting to Done

On Christmas Eve morning, I converted the items from the Christmas Menu project to a physical kanban that the whole family could see and participate in. I wanted to keep it in the kitchen – the hub of the remaining cooking activities – but I couldn’t spare any workspace.  A small melamine tray turned out to be the answer, since we could move it around as needed.

Although I had to drop a dish from the menu, and Christmas Eve dinner ran an hour late due to unforeseen technical challenges, both the family and I were wholly satisfied with the delicious outcome. Best of all, I haven’t felt anywhere near the kind of stress that the home stretch of  preparations usually brings with it when I’m the only Christmas Cook. Quite the opposite in fact. Apart from a period of about 30 minutes, when all the dishes were being finalized, I never felt under pressure or that I’d missed something.

And with everybody now happily off to bed, I can turn out the lights to signal Santa that we’re ready for Sprint Review. Let me just  move the “cookies and milk” sticky on the tray …

This entry was posted in Kidzban, Parenting, Personal Kanban and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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