October – The Homestretch

When I sat down to plan my calendar board at the end of October, I knew that time had caught up with me on a couple of fronts, and that I had to adapt accordingly.

For starters, I only had two months of the year left, and there were still a number of Priority 1, 2 and 3 items left to tackle. I could also not hope to write and publish individual reflection posts to cover all the months I have missed since April.

Keeping Things Real

Instead of agonising over the fact that things hadn’t quite worked out as originally planned, I decided to embrace the reality of my context instead and decided to proceed as follows:

  • After reviewing all the remaining task cards on my board, I was very  happy to discover that I was able to move a handful of them into Dropped – Achieved Differently (5 tasks). I had in fact done them, but hadn’t done the necessary backlog grooming to rename and/or change the description of the task.
  • As for the rest, I introduced a final 2-month Year-End General Sprint for 20 cards  I considered important or urgent enough to take on by the end of December.
  • Finally, a number of others went into lists for Dropped – No Longer Key This Year (5 tasks) or Dropped – Obsolete (Time) (2 tasks). Only time will tell if any of these tasks will make it into 2016. Some may well no longer be relevant at all.

Taking Stock

Although I did manage to complete 5 of the final 20 tasks I had set myself, and 3 or 4 of them are currently in progress and may just come in under the wire, I had clearly still been over-optimistic in my planning for the final push.

The reality is, that it’s been a tough year and I’m tired. And although I’m on leave until early in January, I have no intention of using all my time to make up tasks on the goal calendar. It’s time to rest properly and enjoy the downtime with my family.

Looking Ahead

In the final days of 2015, I’ll be using a little bit of my time to set up a new goal calendar for 2016. This approach has worked very well for me, specifically because it has taught me a lot about the way I (fail to) prioritize some key administrative areas of my life, and how I continually over-commit on personal side-projects – sadly, to the detriment of my family and my own peace of mind.

There will be a key change to the board, though:

I will be switching to 2-month cycles, instead of planning tasks monthly. Judging by this year’s results, this seems to be a more realistic cycle time for the majority of the tasks on my board. In planning each cycle, I will also be taking specific pains to pull only those cards into the cycle that I am confident I can actually deliver.

Year One of using the Personal Kanban goal calendar has been about visualizing my work so that I can navigate it more easily.

Year Two is shaping up to be about applying (and enforcing) more conservative constraints.

In short, next year I want to do more by doing less, and doing so well.

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