Too much to do, not enough time: We all know this problem. And the higher we climb on the career ladder, the more extensive the issue becomes. Our colleagues constantly draw us into meetings only because they need us to make the decision. Or our colleagues ask us, how we can solve certain problems, which derails us from our daily plans. Also, sometimes we think, it takes us a brief moment to resolve an issue, but then work the whole day on said issue and forget everything else, what we were planning for the day. And there are many more examples on how life influences on what we plan to do.
We all have been there and in the end we only end up doing, what is right in front of us and forget about the rest of our backlog. Instead of working and developing further, what is important for us, we only work on what is urgent right now.
The worst part? We know that and still continue working on the small issues and do still not know how to find a way out of this spiral. We feel trapped.
How to solve the issue of too much to do?
It has been a year sicnce I have been using the Personal Agility System (PAS). Peter Stevens created it, when he was looking for solutions on how to get more things done and be organized about it. His solution is to use a Scrum-like approach to life.
While I had symptoms like the aforementioned, I would not say, that I was the most disorganized person. I usually got things done, I had a plan on how to go about my tasks and could usually achieve my commitments to other parties. Nevertheless, there were tasks piling up, which were important for the company, but I kept procrastinating them: Frequent routine activities such as regular updating the books for good accounting practices, writing blog articles or doing Sales activities.
So, I went into a PAS training provided by Peter pretty open, but also curious, what would be the whole thing about. And in the end, it entirely changed the way I was looking at my work and organized my daily tasks.
Before I dive into how I reorganized my life, let me summarize my key takeaways:
- Identifying and being reminded daily, what really matters for myself and how to align my activities towards my purpose. I am looking at my workload more comprehensively instead of just getting things done.
- The idea of Celebrate & Choose, which helped me to become more non-judgmental on what I have not achieved. I also learned, that it is not relevant, how close I came to what I have planned but rather about, how I achieved more value in my activities.
- Two easy tools with clear own developed guidelines (Priorities Map and PAS Compass) helping me to stay aligned on the bigger purpose in my life.
An Agile Week
At the beginning of every week, I will create a preliminary plan within a “This week”-column on a Kanban-like board (Priorities Map). This could be anything related to the following categories:
- Existing customers / Organizational Development
- New Customers / Business Development
- Private activities or any Errands
- Anything related to building up my personal position within the community.
The above list gives me a prioritization of what is important to me and helps me to prioritize work. For anything what is recurrent work, I will create a new card for each week. For example, if I have recurring activities at an ongoing customer, I do create a card for this customer every week.
In the beginning, my achievement of completed activities in the past week gave me a good understanding on how much I can get done during the new week. However, as I usually miss individual activities initially, now I just follow my gut-feeling. I create initially a list of 17-25 activities per week. In the past, that number would have freaked me out; this is not the case anymore.
An Agile Day
Every day in the early morning (sometimes the evening before) I move any activities of what I plan for this day from the “This week” to the column “Next”. I call it “Next” and not “today”, so I would not put a psychological deadline to it. In the end, I often still have too much to do. So, I am pretty optimistic on what I can achieve in a day.
Throughout the day, I work on the activities and keep the board (Priorities map) always updated. I move cards from column to column, when:
- I completed this card: So I move it into the column “Done” (Every Week gets its specific column for completed work in this week; thus we create a “Breadcrumb Trail”).
- I did not complete this card yet because sometimes we need to wait for feedback or activities for one specific client are distributed throughout the week or follow-ups are happening. Then I just move it back to my “Next” Column according to my priorities.
- I did not complete this card yet because I could not find the time. (Life happens). Then I decide, if I will likely find time for it later during this week (and move to the “this week” column) or will move back to the overall backlog within my priorities. In that case, I will pick it up next week again.
Now, most importantly for me is to look at this tool organically and not fixed. We know, we hardly can plan a day, because of … Life. And that is ok.
Changes towards more impact
Therefore, the most significant change in my life by using PAS was how I organized the Done by week column (the Breadcrumb Trail) I added all activities to the column in the order of how much effort I spent on this activity (most effort on top and least effort on bottom). Additionally, whenever I moved an activity done, I decided as well, if that task made me happy or not.
With that setup, I want naturally as much as possible on the top to make me happy. And that is what happened: With keeping 2 weeks of achieved activities telling me, if most of the work I am doing is making me happy or not, it helped me to direct my focus to what really drives me. Now I feel that I complete also much more “dreadful” work. And even I still don’t like the activities by themselves, I am now becoming happy after I completed them.
In the end, I don’t know if I complete more activities or if I am better at planning. Also, I am not certain, if this approach does make me better in planning. It certainly does not give me more time. I still have too much to do and not enough time.
But thanks by using that approach I know that I put more effort on what really matters for me. I keep shifting my focus to things, I really care about. In the end, I feel much more accomplished and even much happier.
What do you think about this approach, would you think, something similar can help you? Or join us for our monthly Business Agility Online ThinkTank am 30. Juni 2021 to learn more about that.