My February has been extremely busy, not least because I am moving house. And whilst I know that I am not more productive when I am overloaded, I noticed something else this time: my ability to prioritise is broken when I get too busy. I take on EVERYTHING that gets added to my plate because my head is too full to evaluate and throw out the less important things.
Kanban teaches us that having too much Work In Progress (WIP) slows us down. First there is the stress of coping with too many things at the same time, which impedes thinking, solutioning and prioritisation. Then there is the outcome of all this frenzy: too much WIP increases the lead time to finish any single work item dramatically, which means whoever is waiting on us has to wait. Which in turn creates more pressure for us… Vicious circle!
So what can we do? First off, stop starting and start finishing. Only take on something new once you have finished something that is already in progress. Then, much more difficult and much more important… SLOW DOWN! Create slack so you have time to think. Time to recover. Time to get perspective.
What becomes possible if you take 15 minutes everyday to lift your head out of the busy-ness?
PS: Do yourself a favour and watch Klaus Leopold’s Shipbuilding game video on YouTube. Or ask us to come play it with you and experience the impact of WIP for yourself.