February – Expanding Projects and Unexpected Shifts

Personal Kanban Calendar Lesson #2

This is the second (very belated!) “retrospective” post on my 2015 kanban calendar goal board experiment. If you haven’t read the original post, I suggest you do that now, before reading further.

A quick reminder that each month’s post is supposed to lag behind the actual use of the calendar by one month.  This post covers lessons from February, as it was supposed to be published in March. That clearly didn’t happen. More about that below.

What did I plan to do in February? (Sprint 2)

  • Much less than in January, that’s for sure! I had made the classic mistake of taking on too much all at once in January, resulting in many tasks not getting done. At the start of February, I had to decide whether all these incomplete tasks were still valid and, if so, whether they should all roll over into February to be completed.
  • Having learnt my lesson from the previous month, I instead chose to distribute those tasks that were still valid across February, March and April, instead of pushing them all into February. One or two even moved down in priority to June, since I realized I would have more time during the winter school holiday to actually take on a project of that size.
  • During January I had also realized that one of the January tasks (applying for high schools for our son) was in fact a substantial project of its own, involving many, many sub-tasks. I hadn’t realized this going into January, since I’ve never had a son in high school before. Somehow, the advice of those who had warned me that this was going to be a monster job hadn’t quite seemed to sink in, either. (Sound familiar from any work projects you’ve worked on recently?)
  • With that context, I only took on 10 tasks, one of them which was an unplanned task that came in during the month. I completed 7 out of these 10 tasks. Two of them rolled over to March and were done subsequently, while the other has continued to languish on through March, April and now shortly into May …

What did not work in February?

  • On the surface, things worked much better. I certainly did get more done than in January, and I did so with substantially less self-imposed pressure.
  • However, I’m still procrastinating on similar things as before (paperwork, returning phone calls and emails and setting up follow-up meetings), and that one task that is continuing to roll over month after month is very worrying. It’s a personal matter that I suspect involves some level of guilt. At some point, I have to decide what to do with this task – either do, or do not.

What worked in February?

  • Taking on less tasks, without a doubt. As a result, when a major life change came my way during the course of February (being retrenched from my job), I was able to take on this new challenge without feeling too overwhelmed. And instead of immediately adding all the actions related to this shift into February, I set out breaking the problem down into chunks to handle during March and April.
  • The built-in flexibility of the goal calendar really served me well in this regard. Let’s face it, a retrenchment is going to have you revisiting your priorities for the immediate future, isn’t it? My plans for March and April are looking quite different to what I had imagined, but I’ve been able to create a new P1 life goal (Work: Find New Job), and move a few other personal projects out visibly, explicitly and indefinitely.

What have I changed?

  • In terms of the goal calendar process itself, I realized halfway through the month that I hadn’t kept track of roll-over tasks properly. I went through the January roll-over tasks subsequently and tagged them with “Jan”. I have continued to do that through March and April. The result:  Highly visible signs of my ongoing procrastination in some areas that are demanding me to do something about the matter.

My most powerful insight this month

Keeping some capacity (slack) available to deal with new tasks is not a luxury, it’s critical. If I had overloaded February with too many personal tasks and projects, it would have been much harder to deal with a major, unexpected life change with equanimity.

Next Month – Closing Doors and Opening Windows

My next post will deal more deeply with my changed work situation and the impact this change has had on my personal plans for 2015. My new context, compounded by another deeply emotional personal challenge, has contributed directly to the delay in posts.

Look out for Personal Kanban Calendar Lesson #3, coming your way soon-ish. 🙂


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