onsdag 30. mars 2011

PK Scheduler Diary

I've been working on a scheduling principle for Personal Kanban.

Say what?

A way of scheduling my Personal Kanban. Kind of mixing my PK and my calendar. And make it all portable. There's a story behind it.

In the beginning, there was Personal Kanban

It all started with my experimenting with PK at work. Obviously, as the team leader, I have different tasks than the others. I do things that don't go into the support system. And PK in its simplest form gave me tremendous stress relief. Even though I know there is a backlog, I can easily see how much I have already done today, not to mention this week. Tear down finished tasks on friday for a retrospect. It worked quite excellent - for the first couple of weeks.

Then came the questions. "When will this task get priority?" "How about this task?" The concept that I'd pick the highest prioritized tasks every day was not a good enough answer. Some tasks might never get picked that way. And I did not get a proper overview of what needed to be done when, even when the dates were on the cards.

Then came the calendar

So I made a scheduled version of the backlog. That is, I made a small four week calendar with space for one card each day. Any task put into the calendar will be the main task that day. Anything put on the calendar will be processed the day that has been scheduled for it. I will also not promise that the task will be processed any sooner - so it can safely wait until that day.

If I have any spare time after the main task, random events, random support calls, scheduled and unscheduled meetings, I pull new tasks from the unscheduled backlog instead of the calendar.

When a week has been cleared, that column is immediately reused for appropriate tasks from the backlog. The system works like a dream, and I go home with the knowledge that everything that I promised has actually been delivered.

Freedom of movement

Then a virus came along, and I had to work from home for a while. This promted the problem of only having physical access to my Personal Kanban and scheduler. I would drop by the office once in a while to get stuff I needed to complete tasks at home, and update the scheduler. I brought a bunch of cards with me in my meeting book.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to find out that the easiest way to carry my Kanban along was to use the first couple of blank pages as a portable Kanban board - of which I am not the first person to reinvent.

Except, I used those pages for the scheduling, and usually use the monitor for the board itself. Notes stuck on the left side are ready, below the screen is current, and completed on the right. At the end of the day, stick completed task in meeting book for future retrospect.

Combine with note taking

I delegated a meeting to the apprentice. I really don't expect anything ground breaking to come out of the meeting, but I believe the apprentice can learn a bit. So I gave him a link about note taking techniques. My favourite is a page split in two, left side for notes, right side for actions. Alas, my ordinary meeting book does not feature this layout, and although I could easily make this design by hand, I decided I just wanted something smoother.

Although the notepad generator is great, I wanted an entire book of these - one notepad per day. I believe we call these diaries. And indeed, the seventh sense diary that the municipality has bought features this layout.

So how do I combine this with my scheduled Personal Kanban? Easy! Put future tasks and relevant information on yellow sticky notes. Put them on appropriate dates. Left side (note side) I put in my appointments and other important information about that day. Right side goes for the important action item for that day. When the day comes, the page is my "ready" column. The monitor is still my "go" column.

When a task is completed, I use the notes section for the retrospect in addition to meeting notes - and throw away the used note. The right hand side is then filled with information about the new tasks required. At the end of the day, I produce new sticky notes for the new tasks that need to be scheduled on a different day.

For about two seconds, I wondered why I didn't just use the diary as a diary and write the appointments and todo-lists directly on the selected days? Before the two seconds had passed, I realized that the sticky notes represented a floating possibility of a future, plans might change, and the sticky notes make it easy to move them around easily. Anything written directly on the page, however, becomes the log of what has been done, learned and decided.

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