Tag Archives: digitalnomads
Workshop Invite 23 September 2021

September so far has been more of a summer than the “Summer of ‘69”. Random song references are my thing now, and that makes sense because the #RockMeRetreat was never about “Rock’n’Roll Music” or “Jailhouse Rock.” “We will rock you!” so that no stone will be left unturned once you start on this journey of self-discovery with your Coach “Angie.”

Still, my dear, fall is here. We can still have a glass of “Summer Wine,” but the days are as short as the “Itzy Bitzy Teeny Weeny Honolulu Strand Bikini.” 

Rose petals sprinkled over my neglected Zen Garden, sunflower fields turned brown, and you have started to turn on the lights in the morning again. When you get home from work, you don’t want to sit outside anymore as it is dark, but you might vaguely remember this feeling you had as a kid when you were playing hide and seek at this time of the year, and it was just a notch better because it got dark at dinner time.

Apples are ripe for harvest, and the smell of onion pie and early wine hangs in the air. How do you remember the early fall, back when we were in high school? I remember a particular moment going down the stairs from our horrible grey concrete school building of the 70s, thinking, “This is great! I love being back at school!” I swung my newly acquired pepita jacket across my shoulders and closing my leather school bag with a sense of accomplishment. 

Do you miss those times where you felt like the world was in order and that you had all the opportunities ahead of you? You know when you feel like a “Rockstar” sipping champagne in a limo, with your Bono hat on, driving through “New York” with a bass drum pounding similar to the headache you will have the following day? 

Is this the life you want to have, without limits, without regrets, and certainly without the need to have a “boss” tell you what to do, as you know best how to do your job, how to build your contribution to the world and how to achieve your goals in work and life?

If you want to get to this focused and productive life level, you can start with building weekly practices and adding them to our RockMeApp. Last week I already spoke about seven easy-to-implement steps to help your body adjust to a new culture or new environment. This week, I would like to dive even deeper with these seven deadly rituals for focus and productivity

1 – Start Your Week with Monday Wishes

Starting your Week with Monday Wishes is a powerful way to start your week. Use your Have-Done-Diary (journal) to write down your wishes for the week without limiting yourself. Even if you end up re-writing your to-do list, just brain dump everything you wish for the week. The list should include fun stuff like “a bunch of flowers,” too.

2- Craft Your New Morning Ritual

I believe we should all have a morning ritual, and you can design yours around your needs, lifestyle, family, and pets. For example, you can think about which order you ideally go through your morning to have a happy and productive day ahead. Pro tip: Don’t check your mobile phone during this time of the day.

3 – Finish with Friday Reflection

If your workweek closes on Thursday or Friday, use the last hour of your day to clean up your desk, sort paper or emails, write a task list for the week ahead, and then go through our four reflection questions on the RockMeApp. Here’s a helpful virtue of separating the workweek from the weekend. I’ve talked about taking 90 minutes on Saturday to finalize open tasks instead of working late with a few of you. Test this; for me, it works well.

4 – Plan a Digital Detox Day 

Taking a real break from Social Media, especially those funny videos on Facebook, isn’t easy unless you have a plan on where you can hide your phone for 24 hours. You might be a parent and need to be reachable for your children. Using my uncle’s strategy to have an elementary mobile phone to remain reachable over the weekend for essential clients and family can pay off. Alternatively, you can try to apply willpower (just kidding). Turn on the “Radio GaGa” and listen to unexpected songs, hear the news without images and enjoy that wonderful feeling.

5 – Weekly Practices You Can Do Anywhere

Weekly practices are a vital element of our programs. They help with sanity maintenance and make you a happier person to be around (as opposed to your inner Mr. Hyde, who is also a corporate zombie.) If you are struggling to define what practices are helpful to you or haven’t even started, I encourage you to define weekly goals that you can achieve no matter where you are. Examples could be daily walking targets and relaxation exercises or keeping your space clean of clutter

6 – Consider my Productivity Hacks 

If you feel you have maxed out your productivity already, please test this: If you can implement one of these seven productivity hacks (1- Have-Done Diary, 2 – Pomodoro Method, 3 – Eisenhower Matrix, 4 – Pareto-Principle, 5 – Peace Island, 6 – Repetition Checklists, 7 – Outsourcing Housework) and you notice any changes you might still have potential to improve, and there’s always space to learn and get better at tools. Also, to let you in on a secret, I used to waste a lot of time with mundane tasks such as looking for the correct passwords or making sure I had the right document version. A year ago, I often needed to follow up on team tasks and could not always rely on them. We now use password managers, a few master spreadsheets, and SLACK for team communication. I cannot say that this has increased our productivity. Still, my stress level is lower as now everything is well organized and accessible from anywhere and all team members.

7 – Revisit Your Weekly Planner

When you started working with the weekly planner (we usually hand this out at the end of all programs), you might have noticed an increase in productivity right away. Now, with a bit more practice, you might see that you could make optimizations or that you could change your meal or exercise plan for the fall. I recommend that you keep the general structure and only optimize what doesn’t work well yet.

How about you practice one virtue for eight weeks and let me know what happened? I would love to hear from you. If you wish to further work on your purpose, performance, and productivity, I recommend joining our RockMeRetreat from 18 to 25 November 2021 in Grisons, Switzerland. Sign up here to be invited, and we’ll set up a call to discuss this further. 

On Thursday, 23 September 2021, we finalize our preparatory workshops with “Packaging Moves – Getting More out of Your Global Mobility Deal.” Respond with “I want to be a Rockstar.” or nominate a song for our playlist.

Angie

Further Reading

https://teachings.eckharttolle.com/path-to-liberation-resisting-and-demanding-nothing/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/tech-sabbatical-10-ways-getting-offline-helped-me-to-live-la-dolce-vita/

https://www.greenhomediy.co/love-your-home/

5 Things Highly Productive People Do Every Sunday That Most Others Don’t

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2018/07/5-powerful-health-benefits-of-journaling/

https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884

https://www.thespruce.com/decluttering-your-entire-home-2648002

 

 

Ilanz, Graubuenden, Switzerland

Living a Life of Purpose – Four Ideas for Sanity Maintenance

Did you just have another day where you cleaned up your desk, wondered what you had achieved today, and got home to a stack of dishes, a pile of clothes, and a crying son? Did you spend last night driving your daughter to SCUBA class, squeezed in a conference call, and forgot that it was your mother’s birthday? Did you then at 11 PM sit down thinking “Why am I not moving on with my life?”

Often we think we are too busy to do that right thing, the Ph.D. we wanted to start, the Master we wanted to finish, the weight loss program, and healthy nutrition we wanted to implement. We keep ourselves too busy to meet a new partner. We play safe and the older we get the less risk we are willing to take.

Often we spend our time doing the wrong stuff. Sometimes there are good reasons to hang onto a job, a client, or even a marriage. Sometimes hanging in there is part of the deal (“…for better or worse…”) but there is also a fine line between going through rough patches and self-destruction.

In the past, I also got stuck in a story that I have been telling myself for the longest time. I have achieved balance in my life through continuous learning and weekly practices. And to speak like a true ZEN master: It’s the practice, not the achievement that makes it important for me. 

After you have been exposed to this pandemic and the anxiety in the world you probably lie awake at night thinking about the latest argument with your manager, the constant nagging of your spouse about living “here” and your teenager trying to find their identity as an artist.

You sometimes spiral down into the rabbit hole of worry and your inner Gollum starts telling you all the critical feedback you have received EVER as if you are Arya Stark and had to remember every man who was ever bad in the world. If you feel like this (even on the odd occasion) I would like to invite you to the following sanity maintenance practices

1 – Press the Pause Button

You might not know how to do this but I will teach you. For those of you who are following our programs you probably understand that maintaining a weekly practice helps you in the process of being more satisfied with your achievements. 

2 – Plugin Your Purpose Batteries

For some of you, reconnecting with your purpose sounds too difficult to even get started. Maybe you thought you had defined your purpose clearly but now you have doubts. Is that really the reason why you are in the world? Is this the area of work and life where you can influence the world the most for the better or are you just in this for the status, the money, and the company car? Is your reason for this international move the next career step in Caracas or is it the housing allowance and the package your company pulled together?

3 – Divorce Work from Your Self-Worth

When I speak to some of you I understand that work plays a very important role in your life but so does your spouse, your children, parents, siblings, and friends. You are more than a breadwinner and after having been in the corporate world for such a long time and having made it here, don’t you think you deserve to focus more on your important relationships? Don’t you deserve sipping rosé in the Biergarten at Zurichhorn on a Saturday? Open-Air movies with your loved ones on a school night?

4 – Kill Your Inner Corporate Zombie.

You do not have to be a corporate zombie either. The company pays you to deliver 42 hours of work (in Switzerland). All productivity research shows that our productivity declines after six hours of focused work. Potentially, we need to deconstruct the 42-hour workweek as it was designed for industrial workers, not knowledge workers, let alone our new breed of Digital Nomads.

Money has a limited value. When basic needs are met, the rest is a luxury, and no pair of shoes, no holiday, no luxury car will replace your health, your happiness, or time spent with your ailing elders. What is it that you truly need? Have you ever worked out how much money is enough? 

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post “The Digital Nomad – Part 1” that we’re growing my company organically. I was inspired by creator Paul Jarvis and his book “Company of One”. Paul takes off time during the summer and winter when he thinks he made enough money for the year. How you can learn that will take a bit of reprogramming. I invite you already to join our upcoming free workshop series, where we will tackle:

1) Getting More out of Your Global Mobility Deal -> Packaging Moves

2) Designing Work to Support a Global Lifestyle  -> Persisting Mindsets

3) Becoming the Trusted Partner for Your People -> Presencing Moments.

All workshops will be held online via Zoom on Thursdays at 5 PM starting 9 September 2021. Guest speakers, workbooks, and slides will be given to you later through the participant list.

You are invited and you can just let us know that you want all the invites by replying “Rockstar” to this email.

Kind regards

Angie

P.S. Please note that seats are limited and that we have to have your reservation by 30 September 21. Should we need to cancel the RockMeRetreat because of the Pandemic we will pay your enrollment fee back. If you need us to send a formal proposal to your employer please contact our project manager Anne-Kristelle Carrier.

If you want in on the Rockstar Pipeline > Sign up to the RockMeRetreat list

It had never occurred to me that a ballpoint pen is actually refillable. I did not even think that it was using ink. To be honest, I was never a big fan of the biro, ball pen, or dot pen. How could you even have so many words to describe the same instrument? In high school, the taste and smell made me nauseous. 

In an attempt to motivate me to “get back to school,” I cleaned up all my desk drawers and found two hand-softening silver ink dispensers rolling over a ball. With these two, my handwriting looks as beautiful as that of Daisy, the kitten. Have you ever seen kittens handwrite? Me neither, but she came to mind, and it’s a beautiful thought. She sports a pink bow tie with white polka dots, greyish fur, and blue eyes like Terence Hill (If you don’t know this actor you are too young for my programs). 

Daisy is going back to school next Monday, and she will be organized and have refilled her pens. Let me tell you how I spent the summer as it might seem to you that I am always on and productive. I really needed a long break this summer, and I wanted to spend time with my family in Germany. At the same time, I had signed up for three courses during the summer. 

Do you know how your mind often just needs new input? This is me after being “productive” for months. I need new input.

That kind of learning only works for me with a structure, so I worked on a particular “summer schedule” for three weeks, where I worked productively for six hours maximum. The rest of the day I enjoyed meals with my mum, went for a walk, sat at lake Constance, licked on dark chocolate, mango, and greek yogurt ice cream (because that’s what you do in Southern Germany), tested the rosé wine selection from the local supermarket and held my grandmother’s hand while she was trying to get back on her feet after an unexpected fall. 

Why am I telling you this?

In “back to school mode,” you might be looking forward to more routine, having the kids out of the house for a few hours and a place to go to that you call “workplace.” I wish I could tell you that you will get back to your routine in no time and that the 761 emails all contain information only but need no action really because honestly, nobody was at work. 

Everyone was sipping rosé in France or eating tomatoes in Mallorca. Because this is what you do when you are a grown-up. You eat tomatoes, dip the mozzarella in olive oil and crema di balsamico, add two leaves of container-grown basil, and for a good time, you eat an extra slide of the garlicky mayonnaise-dripping sauce that you would never touch at home.

This little holiday adventure is over. Stop slacking. It’s back-to-school season. As we don’t know yet how this fall will pan out, I wanted to give you a list of ideas of how you can start your back to school routine:

1 – Hand Write Your Brand

In case you are still looking for a job, and you have missed signing up for our HireMeExpress program, here’s one idea: Why don’t you let me handwrite your biography for you? Most people have a rather generic way of writing about themselves. Most resumes are boring and hard to understand. Let’s work together on developing your personal brand, your purpose, your one-sentence mission statement, and your creative valve.

2 – Design Your Workspace

Put on your favorite playlist and clean your home and your workspace if you work from home. Make your workspace so attractive and full of creative passion that you wish to return to it magically all the time. Clean out your wardrobe and anything that reminds you of “old me.” 

3 – Create Your Magic

If you wish to live a life full of purpose, you want to figure out what matters to you, understand who you need to serve and how to do it, and then create your magic. It’s not that hard once you get started. Follow your intuition despite the fear you might feel. Focus on what matters to you and what is important to get to your goal and acknowledge that you have what it takes within you to be you.

The hard part comes later when you are creating your art, your work, your creative brief, or your ZEN garden in the backyard, and you start doubting yourself… But first, you have to get there! Dear First Name, we can help you find your own path during the RockMeRetreat 2021.  I would personally like to invite you to our RockMeRetreat 2021. The RockMeRetreat is a seven-day leadership retreat held from 18 to 25 November 2021 at Kloster Ilanz, Switzerland. 

Sign up here for our mailing list to show your interest. Tube mail this love letter to anyone in your company or your circle of friends. And if you are not sure if this is for you I’m sure you’ve heard of this modern communication device called a mobile phone. Type +41791922877 or respond to this message to arrange a call with me. We will be happy to take your reservations until 30 September 2021. 

Further Input:

 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/do-you-want-to-live-a-life-full-of-purpose/

 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/how-to-get-rid-of-clutter-in-five-steps-spring-cleaning-for-more-productivity/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmM0kRf8Dbk


By Nabeha Latif, Digital Media Guru

Traveling the world with your laptop and setting up temporary offices in foreign coffee shops or on exotic beaches sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how easy being a digital nomad is depicted to be! The position, although flexible, requires some serious hard work and dedication to the craft. Experienced workers earn a hefty income and with a flexible work ethic, it’s the ideal job for some. For newcomers, however, the going is a bit tough when they’re starting off, they definitely need the right sort of advice that accelerates rather than hurts their futures. Let’s look at some essentials of being a Global Digital Coach and successfully clearing those early hurdles to cement your presence in the field.

What is a Global Digital Coach and what do they do?

A Global Digital Coach by definition is known to be a tech-savvy individual who works in a nomadic or remote environment, not an avid traveler going around putting scenic stories on their socials while barely doing any work.  Typically, you have a variety of skills embedded into their arsenal, beyond just having the ability to work in almost any environment. Such professionals provide digital services from their advanced skill set and work as independent entities. To become a successful Global Digital Coach, you’ll need to polish some essential digital skills. With the world rapidly advancing and social media being an intuitive and exciting platform, there is no base as solid or versatile, or as essential to being a Digital Nomad. 

A digital presence isn’t optional anymore.

Marketing in today’s day and age requires you to go digital. Whether you’re building visual heavy content for the likes of Instagram or Snapchat, or focusing on a balance of visuals and text for Facebook and LinkedIn, you need in-depth knowledge of the platform and how its algorithms and functions work. More importantly, however, you need your own presence online where you can showcase your knowledge of platforms, tools and your specialist skills. That means a website. 

Websites are still essential

With the increasing dependence on social media platforms, one would think that there is no need to have a website when you could just list your business details in the profile section of your social channels. However, websites allow you to set up your online office front and create, so to say, a place where prospective customers can come and browse through your wares. That makes them essential to establishing a foothold in digital work spaces.

Thanks to platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and more, building your own website has never been easier and requires little to no prior coding knowledge, though that always helps! A basic website should consist of contact information, skill and work showcases and a payment gateway, if applicable. The aforementioned tools can also integrate with website metric tools which will help you understand what visitors to your website like or dislike about how you have presented your virtual place of business, allowing you to improve and refine the user experience. As in marketing, websites require iteration, improvement and further iterations to keep you competitive in the industry.

Demystifying Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms have a plethora of tools to manage ads, content creation and customization to help you target your desired audience smoothly. It can be daunting to be handed all those tools and being told to grow your brand, so we are breaking down the critical features of the major social platforms that will let you hit the ground running.

Why LinkedIn (LI Pulse)?

LinkedIn’s reputation as the more ‘formal’ social network makes it quite underrated when compared to the other networks. Its versatility as a platform, however, is what provides a gripping edge for marketing. LinkedIn is primarily used to connect a user with business partners and other similar field workers to grow their PR (Personal Reputation), and having a transparent connection with a brand through such a platform provides quality engagement.

Setting up your brand page with as much detail possible is a solid first step, whilst keeping your page banner (cover) as well as display (profile) picture up to date. Much like the other networks, boosting your content is fairly similar but there are a few key differences. LinkedIn offers a few ad types for you to select from, the simpler being a Sponsored Post that appears on your audience’s feed at set intervals. Then we have Sponsored Messaging, which, unlike the sponsored post is much more personal. It allows you to market and message your target audience directly without hoping that your content appears on their algorithmic feeds.

There are further options within this method but the core usage is the same. A user or face of the company is utilized to send these messages, this will benefit the theme of LinkedIn as a platform and keeps a healthy professional conversation for you to benefit off of. If going directly with your customers isn’t your brand image, keeping it on the lighter side of things, Text Ads might just be your solution.

Launching this campaign requires the least effort, but the right placements and wording could have the most benefit! This method works on creating new leads and works on the base of PPC or Pay Per Click which allows you to have further control over the ad. 

Finally, we have Dynamic Ads. This offers a unique ad and placement style that is not commonly available on other platforms. Dynamic Ads showcase your brand page to those who share similarities in job description, title, location, and other profile data. This ad shows up amidst your feed and showcases any fellow associates following the page you might be interested in. These can be customized according to your need whether it’s brand awareness, recruitment, or highlighting a specific service you offer. It is highly effective so tweaking it to the right audience will provide the results you need!

LinkedIn provides a campaign manager that allows you to manage your ads from one central hub, altering anything necessary and providing key insights with its open kanban view. The campaign manager is utilized to oversee ad performances and analytics to narrow down your desired results. But this isn’t the only way to boost your brand or monitor its performances. 

LinkedIn Pulse is a key example here. Unlike traditional ad methods, Pulse allows you to publish larger amounts of text in the form of articles. The inclusion of more data from a single post is a huge benefit, which allows you more space to hook your audience and convert their interest into business. Pulse articles have an advantage over other posts as it is known to stay on newsfeed longer and even appear on Google search results. Users can also find any of these articles on your company page. This is especially useful for B2B purposes but is versatile to be molded into any form you wish.

Joining relevant social groups to chat and learn about the community is also a great option. Posting surveys and asking for other’s views on a subject can surely benefit the brand growth, so don’t be shy to start a conversation in groups.

Instagram (Live and Stories)

Though a Facebook subsidiary, Instagram’s platform couldn’t be more different. With an emphasis on visual content (pictures, Instagram Live, Stories and Reels), Instagram focuses on appealing to its audience’s sense of aesthetic and it’s really paying off – Instagram is one of the most popular platforms right now!

Instagram is open to many popular brands, as engaging with customers and users directly on this platform is very easy. The image-based scheme truly lets the brand show its true colors, but how do you target the audience you want? Here are a few key tips you’ll need to boost your brand image.

Instagram offers a few options when it comes to ads, which mainly consist of the format whether it is a picture or video and whether you’d place it in the feed, explore, or story. Let’s go through the simplest way you’d opt for after your page has been set up. You have the ability to boost posts from your page directly, this is especially helpful if you wish to boost your followers. 

Since Instagram has a few key ad placements let’s talk about those, starting off with the stories. While swiping through stories and advertisements is seen to pop up, this ad can be image, text, or video-based with the option to swipe up and direct the user to the website/store. As for uploading a direct link to any comment section or story that won’t hyperlink itself, this is a sure way to do so. However, you can upload links to your page bio. Other ads include the main news feed posts, much like your normal feed, an ad can be presented in the signature box or 1:1 ratio format. These can contain carousel ads that let you post multiple pictures in a single post or a single video. The caption or text on these posts is substantially more considered to a story but you’ll miss out on the variety of colors and widgets a story offers. Collection ads also fit into this segment, which acts as a collage of images on one frame which allows the user to grasp more detail in one glance. The explore page shows the trending side of Instagram mixed with your personal interests, ads on here are similar to that of the newsfeed.

Though social platforms thrive on ad spend to help brands reach audiences and grow, certain organic methods are fairly common and useful as well. Instagram Live is an excellent example. You can broadcast events, Q & A’s, quizzes, discussion, and much much more from just one feature! This also allows you to go live with another user or brand to collaborate. Engagement can be boosted through the poll and slider options on Instagram Stories, which act as a fun medium for discussion. Similarly, the Ask Questions widget can be used for Q & A’s as well. Most influencers and accounts use stories as their daily mode of interaction between followers, reserving the posts for more priority content.

Facebook (Groups)

The reigning king when it comes to online connectivity and social media. Facebook practically coined the terminology used by current platforms and its early rise to its current peak is unmatched. Over the years Facebook has received multiple updates, often revamping the entire layout and introducing various tools as well as options to make itself more than just a fun way to talk to friends. Let’s dive in to see how Facebook works behind the curtain, and how you can market yourself or any brand using it.

For starters, you need to set up your page with all the necessary details – profile images and essential details about your services and availability are essential. This will help you present your page, and get an easy start with the marketing tips ahead. Facebook has several options when it comes to advertisements, so let’s get to them.

While posting on your page you’ll notice an option to boost that post. From there you can set the target audience, budget, and other details to get the most out of your spending. Similarly, videos and multiple groups of pictures can be boosted. Pre-existing posts will also have the option to boost or you could opt to boost a newly made one. 

Similarly, there are other ways to set up ads or boost your brand in general. In terms of ads, you can define a set audience or experiment with changes to see what sticks better. From there you can use ads to get likes, engagement, messages, and even direct leads, there’s essentially a model for each company type. Facebook ads can be narrowed down to very specific targets which isa big bonus, as you’ll be targeting those who matter most. Not only can you select your audience based on age, gender and location, but you can also shortlist them based on their interests, habits, likes and even the time they log onto Facebook.

With share options, you’re able to connect other social media networks from Facebook and post to your accounts seamlessly. This works especially well in coordination with Instagram and its stories, so you’re essentially getting the best of both! 

If it’s only increasing the number of likes that entices you, Facebook conveniently has an option for that as well. To manage all these ads and their varieties, the platform offers extensive analytics, and reports to oversee your growth. Also, not only is the network completely capable of advertisements and its management on its own but with the monstrous number of online tools and APIs available to link with Facebook, it completely raises the bar to another level!

With so much available under Facebook’s hood, that’s only a part of the whole story. A series of campaigns can be run without you having to spend a penny! These do however involve strategic planning and effort, yet the results are totally worth it. Like LinkedIn, Facebook has multiple groups that you can target based on location or type. These groups are a solid way to engage with the masses directly, posting regularly and keeping tabs could help you build a following that is completely organic. 

If you’re selling products, for instance, Facebook Marketplace and Buy/Sell groups could be targeted directly with Facebook being so populous and receiving billions of users each month, it comes as no surprise such techniques work out to be fruitful.

About the Author

Nabeha Latif

Digital Media Marketing Consultant

SparkZing.Net

Nabeha Latif is a Digital Media Consultant since the last eight years all while being a prominent influencer! Her vast experience in the digital hemisphere has cemented her as the go to Digital Guru. A major in Digital Marketing, She pushed herself onto the scene with a host of varying micro and macro projects, she is also actively involved in providing business development services related with marketing. A few key names which have grown onto new heights with Nabeha’s expertise include the likes of UNICEF Pakistan, Cesvi, Ali baba Inc, Nescafe Basement, NBC, EuroVillage. Nabeha has worked with Global People Transitions and Angie Weinberger from the early days and is an estimated member of our team.


The Digital Nomad – Part 3 – Improve Your Productivity Kanban-Style

Last week, when you could not fall asleep because you felt overwhelmed by the increasing number of items on your to-do list, you had the brilliant idea to buy post-its and start to plan your next four weeks. Then, you also thought about writing down your 25 priorities. 

You already felt a little relieved and fell asleep. However, the question remains “did you actually do what you planned the day after?”

I bet you didn’t do it even if you thought it was a great idea.

 

The good news is that what happened to you last week happens to most of us too. The bad news is that when you do this in your personal life, you are more inclined to do the same in your professional life as well. We accept a mediocre solution or we try to put a plaster on a process instead of analyzing the root cause of the issue.

According to Schwarzt et al (2014), the great majority of companies see this phenomenon as a challenge to productivity and overall performance, but struggles to handle it. According to Deloitte, over half of the respondents to her survey  say that “their organizations are not doing a good job helping workers address information overload and today’s demanding work environment.” 57 percent believe their organizations are “weak” when it comes to helping leaders manage difficult schedules and supporting employees manage information flow.

Have we lost all of our ideals of Total Quality Management (This is a management approach to long-term process through customer satisfaction. In a Total Quality Management effort, all members of an organization participates in improving processes, products, services and the culture in which they work)  from the good old nineties? Do you know about Kanban and visualizing process flows?

We need to learn how to become more productive and we need to learn it now. If, like me, you are always eager to receive tips on how to increase productivity, check this podcast out.

Kanban 

Kanban is a lean method which originated in lean manufacturing, which was inspired by the Toyota Production System. It aims at managing work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. 

In knowledge work and in software development, the aim is to provide a visual process management system which facilitates decision-making about what, when, and how much to produce. 

Among the most important characteristics is that work items are visualized to provide a view of progress and process, from start to finish, usually through a Kanban board. Indeed, in Japanese, kanban means “signboard” or “billboard.”

Kanban Boards 

A colorful, tidy and good-looking kanban board is one of the most effective tools in project management. It can be used to plan and work through any project, both in your personal and professional life. 

Kanban boards visually display a certain process in its various stages using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each phase of the process. Cards are moved from left to right to show progress and to help coordinate teams performing the work. 

Simple boards have vertical columns for the “to-do”, “doing”, and “done” work.  Alternatively, they may be labelled “waiting”, “in progress” and “completed”. Complex Kanban boards can also be divided into horizontal “swim lanes” representing different types of work or different teams performing the work. Additionally, it can subdivide the “in progress” work into multiple columns to visualise the flow of work across a whole value stream map.

Example of a Kanban board:

 

Seven core practices for Kanban

 

Here I suggest six core practices that will make you optimize the efficiency of the tool and become a master of kanban boards.

  1. Visualize the flow of work. You cannot work on a Kanban board, either physical or electronic, if you cannot visualize the process steps needed to deliver your work. Depending on the complexity of your process and your work-mix, your Kanban board can be very simple or very elaborate. Once you visualize your process, then you can visualize the current work that you and your team are doing. 
  2. Use Colors. Use post-its in different colors for different types of projects. Or, if you decide to use this tool for personal life projects, consider using different colors for different kinds of activities (orange for the projects you wish to complete at home, yellow for your children’s requests, and so on).
  3. Limit WIP (Work in Progress). It’s important to reduce WIP to a minimum to encourage yourself and your team to complete work at hand first before taking up new work. Work currently in progress must be completed and marked done. This creates capacity in the system, so that you can focus on new tasks. Limiting WIP helps you finish what they are doing already before taking up new stuff. This practice is also useful because it communicates to the customer and other stakeholders that there is limited capacity to do work, and they need to plan carefully what work they ask you or your team to do.
  4. Manage Flow.. A Kanban system helps you manage flow by highlighting the various phases of the workflow and the status of work in every single phase. Based on how well you defined the workflow and set the limits to WIP, you will observe either a smooth flow of processes or work piling up as a bottleneck forms and starts to hold up capacity. Kanban helps you analyze the system and adjust their work accordingly to improve flow. In this way, you will manage to reduce the time it takes to complete each task. By improving flow, your delivery of work becomes smoother and more predictable, making it easier to communicate to your customer when you will manage to get any work done. You will also automatically increase your reliability to your customers’ eyes.
  5. Make Process Policies Explicit. Visualize explicitly your policies, process rules or guidelines for how you do your work. In this way, you create common ground for all those involved in the process to understand how to work in the system. The various policies can be at the board level or at a “swim lane” level or for each column. Examples of explicit policies are: what defines a task complete, what describes individual “swim lanes” or columns, who pulls when, etc. 
  6. Implement Feedback Loops. This practice is an essential part of any good system. Kanban encourages and helps you implement different types of feedback loops. If you want to deliver the right work in the shortest possible time, it’s crucial to get feedback early, especially if you ended up on the wrong track.
  7. Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using the scientific method). The Kanban Method helps you implement small changes and improve gradually in a way that is sustainable for you and your team. It encourages you to form a hypothesis, test it and make changes according to the results you obtain. In a few words, it aims at tackling issues through a scientific method. As an individual or team who aims at being agile, it’s fundamental that you evaluate your process continuously and improve as much as needed.

Notable tools

This is a list of tools that implement the Kanban method. You can test some of them for free.

  • Asana, with boards.
  • Azure DevOps Server, an integrated ALM-platform for managing work in and across multiple teams.
  • CA Technologies Rally, provides teams with the option of managing pull-based, lean software development projects.
  • Unicom Focal Point, a portfolio management and product management tool.
  • Jira (software), provides kanban boards.
  • Microsoft Planner, a planning application available on the Microsoft Office 365 platform.
  • Pivotal Tracker provides kanban boards.
  • Projektron BCS, project management tool, provides kanban boards for tickets and tasks.
  • Trello, cards-based project management.
  • Tuleap, an agile open source tool for development teams: customize board columns, set WIP (Work In Progress), connect board with Issue Trackers, Git, Documents.
  • Twproject (formerly Teamwork), project and groupware management tool.
  • Wrike, an Agile Collaborative Work Management Platform.

Reflection

Think of three ways a Kanban board could facilitate your own professional and/or private life. When you come up with ideas, try to be very specific. They have to reflect what you do and how you operate on your daily routine. 

If you haven’t tried Trello yet, try navigating it and setting up your own account.

 

Resources

If you want to learn more about Kanban: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_(development)

If you want to learn more about Kanban implementations and Kanban boards:

https://www.digite.com/kanban/what-is-kanban/ 

If you want to know why you should use Kanban in marketing https://business901.com/blog1/why-you-should-use-kanban-in-marketing/

If you think your lack of digital competencies is affecting your productivity: https://globalpeopletransitions.com/lack-of-digital-competence-affecting-your-productivity-heres-how-you-escape-that-rut/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends/2014/hc-trends-2014-overwhelmed-employee.html#:~:text=The%20overwhelmed%20employee%20Simplify%20the%20work%20environment&text=Too%20much%20access%20to%20information,us%20into%20%E2%80%9Coverwhelmed%E2%80%9D%20employees.&text=Sixty%2Dfive%20percent%20of%20executives,ready%E2%80%9D%20to%20deal%20with%20it

Productivity Makeover with Graham Allcott (Podcast): https://www.sundaebean.com/2019/12/02/152-productivity-makeoverwith-graham-allcott/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press.