Step 2 of getting my WIP under control: Categorizing ALL THE THINGS

by Angela 11. January 2018 19:00

I took an actual, honest-to-goodness, “no working when people aren’t paying attention: vacation for the holidays so it’s been a quiet few weeks for me. Last time I posted, I described how creating a “one version of the truth” repository for visualizing, prioritizing, managing all of my commitments was a great start to flattening out my over-commitment-then-working-crazy-hours-to-not-under-deliver roller coaster.

So once everything was in one place, my task from my coach George was to identify all of the roles I fill, both at work and at home, and create buckets for chunking up all of my To Dos. For one, I get visually overwhelmed easily, it’s a thing I recognize about myself, so it’s always more effective for me to take in small chunks of data and parse it out if I can. It also gives me another easy “filter”. So I spent some time thinking about my day, and while I sometimes felt like I filled like 20 different roles, it broke down to just 6 major themes when it came down to prioritizing what I focused on during my work day. Luckily Nozbe allows you to create “projects” for lumping things into buckets, so I started there:


The reason this was super important for me, was that like most folks, I cannot be really effective unless I am allowed to focus. So say I have a couple of hours of unstructured time in my day, I could turn on Slack and open my Outlook Inbox and start reacting (I’ve done this, it’s not recommended), or I could decide that working on marketing focused tasks is a good idea. Combing through dozens (or hundreds!) of jumbled To Dos stresses me out, and I tend to pick what’s easy instead of what’s most important or the most effective given my mental state. For instance, if my free time is during a time of day I don’t feel particularly able to be “on” I might not pick tasks that require me to be super attentive or to think quickly on my feet. But if I’m juiced up and feeling particular inspired, I might take on sales or networking related activities. I owe a lot of this thinking to Nancy Gaines.  She is a big advocate of figuring out when your “power hours” are, batching similar activities, and managing your calendar appropriately around that.  Batching similar activities is much easier when they’re already categorized.

Of course within those categories, it’s still important to refine the lists on a regular basis. Rank them by importance, flag things that can be delegated, delete things that are no longer important (THIS IS HARD!), and when hard due dates exist, make sure they are visible. Refinement leads me to Step 3, which is developing a cadence for iterating on those lists, committing to things, and knocking it all out.  Or as George likes to say, CRUSH IT!

Stay tunes for more on cadence and planning.  


Continuous improvement | Productivity | Agile

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