If I’ve learned anything from being a project manager over the last decade, project management really distills down to making lists and being persistent about finding out how to check items off. I mean is there any better feeling then seeing tasks get completed?
Well, maybe a dry martini and a night out of the house. But we have to work with what we got these days.
So naturally when you really love something (for example making lists) you go totally overboard and completely burn yourself out on whatever that thing may be. I found that as I learned more about project management processes and how to organize/work through tasks the more it found it’s way into my everyday life. This lead to two very big life lessons:
1. Decision fatigue is very real
2. I put a lot of unnecessary invisible expectations on myself and it really increases my mental load
I was lacking some serious balance and it left me feeling guilty for not doing enough and completely overwhelmed at the same time. Being a grown up is very hard.
How did I resolve this? I didn’t. I still struggle through these feelings daily, but it did force me to confront the these issues so I could take stock of what was important and what wasn’t. Keeping my house spotless all the time? Less important. Going out and connecting with friends? More important.
So to help me with some balance and unload some of that invisible work, I started a VERY light Kanban board to help track work that needed to be done at home. Kanban is an agile process that basically allows you to keep a flow of tasks moving. If you want to get REAL nerdy read the wiki about it’s origins in manufacturing and a full rundown on the process.
Here is what I’ve put together. If you don’t think I wiped the door down to remove smudges before this picture then you would be wrong. How does the back of a door get so dirty?!
There are four parts:
‘Parking lot’ section - top left. This is for larger things I know need to get done but aren’t urgent. Or my procrastination station.
‘To do’ section - bottom left. These are smaller tasks I usually save for weekends. Do I get them all done? Definitely not.
‘In Progress’ section - middle bottom. So I know what I’m in the middle of doing whenever I get distracted by children.
‘Done’ section - bottom right. Yes it’s currently empty. But I swear things make it in there occasionally.
I’ve done my best to keep this as simple a process as possible. I’ve tried color coding priority with different color post its and sectioning out by month but it was just too much process to maintain.
The board as it is now has ended up being the best blend of simplicity and mental load management, when I have to many to dos in my head I’ll just walk over, grab a stack of post its and start writing things down.
I get a balance of making my lists but not dealing with the pressure to get them done. It’s the best and if you like making lists then I highly recommend.