Sunday, October 27, 2013

Get things done

As a Team Leader I work with a range of different tasks everyday. They are related to many aspects of my current company life from managing multiple teams, multiple projects, customers, improvements, reports to name a few. I work with short term tasks but also with long term ones like e.g. improvements. This makes that I have more tasks I am able to manage. It requires from me a good organization of work to get things done.

Introduction of Trello

Somewhere in 2011 I discovered Trello (trello.com). Actually, it was recommended to me as a project management tool. Trello "is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects and ideas into boards". I liked the simplicity it offers so I gave it a try immediately. I started with only one board (Work) and a really simple flow: Backlog > Busy > Awaiting Feedback > Done.

I started to move task from other sources to Trello too. After a few weeks I've noticed the expected improvement: no tasks are lost and my work process is improved. I decided Trello will be my only source of tasks, so I started to move tasks from other sources to Trello. No more Outlook tasks, Excel sheets, sticky cards on the monitor, notebook full of action points and tasks etc.

Evolution of the flow

Having only one Backlog column with all tasks led to planning problems. When you see 100+ tasks in one column it is really hard to know what is really important (despite ordering). Therefore I introduced a new column: ToDo. This column I placed between Backlog and Busy columns. ToDo column is the column where I put the things that I need to handle during the week. Usually on Mondays, I go through the backlog and select most important issues and I put them to ToDo column. The most recent improvement was introducing Today column. Every morning before I start doing anything I look at my board and plan my day by putting tasks from ToDo to Today. This helps me to set my daily goals and get most important things done.

Getting things done

It is important that tasks leave the flow quickly. I realized that some of my tasks were too big, e.g. improvements. During the week planning I started to slice bigger tasks into smaller ones. Now I don't have a task that I can work more than one day on. Thanks to that I can see the tasks are moving around my flow much faster. My process improved again.

Limiting work in progress

Initially, I did not care about limiting work in progress. I placed many items to Busy column and I assumed I worked on them. But this approach did not lead to good results. I was switching between tasks and I very often was loosing focus. Then I realized I need to be more strict towards myself. So I started limiting work in progress to 3 items (today I don't have more than 2 items in Busy column).

Having smaller tasks also helped here a lot. Today it is very important to me to really focus on the particular task and get it done.

Additional notes

To control my flow even more I apply some rules to my process whilst working with my task on Trello. I use labels to distinguish important taks (red label) and improvements (green label) from other tasks. I use card aging feature (http://blog.trello.com/introducing-power-ups-calendar-card-aging-and-more/), so I immediately see old cards in my backlog. And finally, I very often create cards via email (http://blog.trello.com/create-cards-via-email/).

Summary

I am happy with the improvements I made to my working process and I also know it is not the state of art. As an Agile practitioner, I am always looking for improvements. If I see something is not working, I change it and I find another way.

Disclaimer

This post is not sponsored by Trello in any way.

3 comments:

  1. Great post. Is your title 'Getting things done' connected with David Allen's book? He says about presenting to-do tasks in the separate context lists. I'm wondering if you tried using Trello for it. Have you tried to create separate board for other context than work (like @home, @city, @someday) or just create separate columns inside one board, each presenting different context list? I like you KanBan approach with your job tasks, but I'm interested how do you (or if you) manage you everyday/family tasks using trello as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I have Personal board, but I don't use it with family yet. I plan doing this but with physical board on the fridge or so.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would like to suggest proofhub project management tool for organized management and systematic execution of projects and tasks contained in them. It also has got labels for filtering and organizing of tasks.

    ReplyDelete