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 flowHaving 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 doneIt 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.