My 2015 Experiment: A Personal Kanban Goal Calendar

If  you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions. Sadly, there is no magic wand that can help you change your life or achieve something to which you’ve long aspired.  The reality is that you have to set tangible goals and then take the individual steps that are needed to achieve them.

Sounds simple, right? Yet many an ambition has floundered because of a lack of follow-through. Especially when you have big dreams that require you to reach a tough series of goals over a long period of time, it’s easy to become distracted or disheartened along the way.

When I sat down to plan my goals and projects for 2015, I realized that it’s shaping up to be a particularly big year for me, with a number of significant challenges lying ahead. How was I going to make sure that I achieve what I set out to do?

By combining an idea that came across my Twitter stream last year with Personal Kanban, I have devised a mechanism I believe will help me to do just that.

Step One: Visualizing deadlines by quarter and month

I recalled a particularly inspirational Fast Company Design post from 2014, proposing that you use a calendar-based goal board to keep you on track:

Fast Company Calendarized Goal Board

Fast Company Calendarized Goal Board

This is also how corporate budgets work. Annual expenditure is planned by calendarizing it and forecasting your financial position at the end of each quarter.  Since I plan to be spending my valuable time on these goals and projects this year, I quite like the monetary connotation of this approach. Corporate budgets are finite, as are the number of hours and days to my disposal this year.

But predicting when  you’re going to do something is one thing. Deadlines, although concrete and tangible, are in fact just predictions of completion. A lot can happen between setting the deadline and actually delivering on it. Ask any project manager. 😉

In addition, although this calendarized goal board is a good visual indicator, it’s too static for me. Unless you add some other elements to it, e.g. crossing out items that are done, you can’t easily show progress. It also doesn’t leave room for change. And let’s be real here – change happens over a period of 365 days.

Step Two: Visualizing completion with just-in-time planning

Drawing inspiration from the calendar goal board, I have created a separate Trello board for my 2015 Goals and Projects that deviates slightly from the default To DoDoing and Done columns. Instead, it has columns for Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 goals, with a card per goal.

My 2015 Calendarized Personal Kanban

My 2015 Calendarized Personal Kanban

Each month has two columns – one for the discrete actions and tasks that must be completed that month, and a corresponding Done column.  Each quarter also has a Done column (out of view in this picture). This is where I intend to collect all cards from the Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 columns as each of these goals is completed.

To remain agile and change-positive, I only planned out the discrete tasks and actions for January, rather than attempting to do so for the year, apart from one thing I knew I’d want to do in February. At the end of the month, I’ll do the same for February, and so on during the course of the year.

Since I do want to keep track of changes in my thinking for future reflection, I have also introduced coloured labels to capture Planned (green) and Unplanned (yellow) goals and tasks. To show Work In Progress, I have decided to attach a second orange label to the goal and it’s associated monthly tasks and actions.

Step Three: Reporting visibly and regularly

One of the age-old wisdoms related to goal-setting, is that you should share your goals with others and regularly check in on your progress visibly and transparently. Now I’m not planning to share my Trello board with you all. As it is, I’ve greyed out details where I felt they were inappropriate to share, and I will continue to do that.

However, I have decided to run this Personal Kanban Goal Calendar as a visible experiment through the Scrumfamily blog this year. Every month, you can expect one post reflecting on the progress and process lessons of the past month, somewhat similar to my Mommy Dojo Kanban series of last year.

At the very least, this gives me a committed reason to post at least a month. As a matter of fact, today’s post is one of the discrete January tasks associated with my Writing goal for the year. How meta. 😉

Feedback and Ideas

I’d love to hear how others are keeping their goals on track, whether you’re a Personal Kanban practitioner or not. GTD, Covey, whatever – all flavours of Kool-Aid welcome. 🙂

Let’s inspire each other to make 2015 the year in which we not only set out to achieve great things, but actually do!

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