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A guest post by Romée Jager

Do you also feel overwhelmed and overloaded before the day has even started? Then don’t worry, you are not alone. It is 7:30 AM and I started working half an hour ago. Even though it is only the beginning of my working day, I already feel that I am way behind on my tasks. I am staring at my screen and scrolling through my emails, opening a few, marking them as unread again and giving them a colour code. 

I feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start. My solution? Preparing myself a cup of coffee. While the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans reaches my nostrils, I think about how to structure my tasks for the day ahead. 

I am wondering why we ‘’only’’ have 24 hours in a day and I start wondering whether I will make it in time for my dinner appointment, as I will probably have to work late again. I feel like my mind is going in a downward spiral and suddenly I remember something that Angie Weinberger once told me: ‘’it is not that we need more hours in a day, instead we should prioritize better’’. 

I mean it would be great if somebody could invent a time machine and could double the time we have in a day. But let’s face it, as the time machine is not invented (yet), we need to find ways to boost our productivity to simply get more done in the time we have. 

Manage your Energy

If you enter ‘’Improving Productivity’’ on Google more than 226 million results pop up including many articles providing productivity hacks. We already provided your Angie’s seven productivity hacks.

However, when implementing those tips it is fundamental to consider your biorhythm. Knowing your chronotype is key.

Instead of just scrolling through our emails and randomly doing some of our tasks, we should carefully reconsider when we do certain tasks in order to increase our productivity. According to Daniel Pink, international best selling author of six provocative books about business and human behavior, big chances of performance can be seen depending on time of day. Therefore, instead of just doing our tasks randomly, we should carefully plan and structure our day. Our day is divided into three periods of productivity that Pink calls: Peak, Through, and Recovery. 

As you plan your day ahead, you need to consider your different periods of productivity. Do you recognize any of the mentioned productivity periods? Consider when you are in which productivity period. When do you have the most energy during the day? 

During which part of the day are you the most focused? Try to identify for yourself the different levels of productivity during the day and plan your tasks accordingly. Personally, my peak time is during the morning until lunch, therefore, this is the time for me to do some highly focused work. After lunch, my productivity drops and I see myself scrolling through my emails again. 

As I already had three cups of coffee, it is not the time to get another one. Instead, this is the time for me to start on the administrative tasks and routine activities. During my ‘’Through’’ period I start feeling that the ‘’Recovery’’ is coming and I move to more creative and insightful tasks again. 

Everybody has their own subjective understanding of chronological time. 

How to get started

Maintaining a Have-Done Diary could be a great help to recognize how you use your daily time and to give you an understanding of when you are focused. When you have identified your different productivity periods, the next step is to plan your tasks accordingly. After a while you can see your productivity skyrocketing and your pile of work slinking. 

As a consequence, you can peacefully shut down your work computer and feel satisfied. You can even plan your tasks for tomorrow already. You can now be at ease and can attend the dinner parties with your loved ones. You might even sing along with the radio while driving home, because you got things done! You come home and your mind is where it needs to be, present in the moment. 

If you want to learn more about timing and our hidden patterns then we recommend you to read the book ‘’When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’’ by Daniel Pink. 

Do you find it challenging to identify your productivity periods? Or do you feel that you need to reset yourself again? Then our RockMeRetreat from 18 to 25 November 2021 is for you! 

During the RockMeRetreat we will work on boosting your productivity. Hopefully, once you come back from this week you will feel refreshed and inspired again and ready to tackle whatever challenges arise. Does this sound interesting to you? Then you can sign up here to be invited or Angie will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation. 

About the Author

Romée Jager is the Academic Intern at Global People Transitions. She loves travelling and is passionate about exploring new cultures. As a soon to be graduate in Intercultural Management, she considers herself as an interculturalist. She has been working in a Dutch governmental youth panel for over 7 years where her aim was to give the youth a voice in the Dutch political system. She believes in continuous learning and is passionate about exploring and doing research. She wrote her master thesis about Defensive Nationalism and is interested in furthering her research. She is wishing to pursue a PhD in social sciences. 

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Entsorgung

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas and none of my own ideas are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming me.” – Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1954

When I was a teenager, we had set meal times and would actually sit on a table together at least twice a day. Our family brunch on Sundays would often lead to a conversation about a “problem”. My dad was studying to be a Carl Rogers client-centered therapist at the time and I am not sure if he sometimes tried to use a questioning method or if he was just very skilled in giving me and my sister the space and safety in which we could just “let it out”. 

Having this kind of open environment in which you would be able to talk through anything is a family tradition which we still live with when we are together. Even though my dad and sister have left this earth already a long time ago, my mum, my aunt and I often sit down and just talk through anything, we love to analyze why a person shows a certain behaviour and how we can solve relationship issues. For me, this is so normal that I sometimes need to remind myself that it is not at all “normal” but rather extraordinary, especially in the German context. I would assume other families have a stronger discussion around political topics, money issues (how to save it) or even more mundane topics like sports.

I, on the other hand, have realized in a conversation with friends that sharing problems and openly talking about feelings, insecurities or areas of your life where you might not feel like “Wonder Woman” could be misinterpreted or it could come across as if you don’t really know where you are going. 

Which is funny, because right now I feel completely safe and on the right path of my life. I have a strong sense of alignment between my strengths and my life’s work. Insecurities of artistic types are normal because we expose ourselves to critiques a lot more often than the average business professional but most companies also train people to use other words than “problem” or we are not allowed to use words such as “drama”. 

It took me years to weed out the “corporate speak” in my writing and even a word like “alignment” creeps me out a bit as it feels “corporate”. This year during a meditation I chose the word “Roots” for my word of 2021. Solving problems is one of my roots and hence I wanted to share four beliefs behind problems with you.

Problems remind us of Math in High School

When I think of problems I think of my favorite math teacher (who also died rather young) and his gigantic triangle. He had the outer appearance of a garden dwarf but he was a great math and physics teacher. He even made me like physics at some stage. In math we had to solve problems all the time and sometimes this would cause stress. I can’t remember this from school or university but I know that I personally don’t like those psychometric tests which are sometimes still used in banks and consulting firms to weed out candidates. The classical IQ tests focussing on calculations in your head can be stressful if you grew up using a calculator. “Being bad with numbers” is a common stereotype of women and often used against women. I’m concerned that women might often not be “bad with numbers” but with the pressure of solving a mathematical problem without using EXCEL or without a calculator and under time constraints. If you take this into consideration with a bit of practice and a good teacher every math problem usually is solvable. And this is exactly what I mean with a “problem”. It’s a riddle that is complex and will need time, practice and different angles to be solved. Do you like crossword puzzles? Could you imagine an upcoming “issue” or pickle to be approached like a crossword puzzle? Write down all the pieces, paint a picture and see if a solution shows up.

Problems seem to be too complex to solve

Sometimes solving problems alone is not possible. Problems might seem too complex to solve. You might have a machine in front of you and you always follow the same steps and always end up with the same error messages. For this kind of problem you either need Google or you need to ask someone who understands the machine better than you do. You need to potentially try several times and several different approaches. You can write down what you did to solve the problem, you can ask a bot for help or you can ask around in your network. Maybe someone else has encountered the same problem and has a solution or a workaround. My advice is usually to break the problem into smaller tasks or to paint an image to understand the components and how they are interconnected. Are you confronted with a problem you cannot solve? Which steps have you taken and tried already? Would it be time to ask for help? If you aren’t getting help, should you escalate the issue to the next level now? What is at stake? Can you allow yourself a bit of discomfort?

Problems harm our “Wonder-Woman” self-image

Having problems is often associated with shortcomings and hence harms our self-image of being a perfect “Wonder Woman”. However, this self-image also creates a lot of harm, especially when life isn’t perfect. For example, when I was in my thirties and forties not being able to get pregnant, nor holding my marriage together in two locations with two careers was a real problem. Up until then I was living in this illusion that life was planable and that all you had to do was to take action and be a go-getter. I might have exaggerated this a bit too much since I lost half of my family rather early in life. I probably thought “okay, from now on I will just plan this better.” (I really love plans, spreadsheets and to-do lists.)

Life isn’t like that and during my coach training I learned to accept that. I also learned that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. And do you know who is really a “Wonder Woman”? It’s a woman who loves herself anyway, despite the failure of her body at producing offspring, despite her failed marriage and despite the stain on her top. Ask yourself if you could accept a little more each day and what it would take to “be yourself”? What does it mean for you? Maybe start with a small change, like wearing a different outfit or letting your hair down.

Problems could show us a dependency we are not happy about.

Often a problem is a conflict of two or three different interests pulling into different directions. It can also stem from opposing beliefs and constructs of reality. If we cannot seem to solve a problem alone we might feel dependent and many of us don’t like to ask for help. It’s a common stereotype that men don’t like to ask for directions. However, I don’t like to ask for directions either. Mainly because I have a hard time differentiating left and right sometimes and again asking for how something is done best could show a weakness of sorts. Are you afraid to ask for help? Are you unhappy to depend on a colleague, a mentor or a friend? If so, ask yourself why that is? What is so shameful about asking for help?

Problems are here to guide us on our past. Obstacles are learning opportunities and pain is useful. Approach your day with a small problem you wish to solve and add a weekly practice to your RockMeApp around solving problems.

If you feel overwhelmed with a bigger problem and you don’t know how to ask for help or who to turn to, maybe it’s time to talk to me about a coaching program or the RockMeRetreat. Please reply “Magic” to this email and we will make an appointment for a free consultation of 30 minutes.

Have Done Diary

When clients ask me how they can fit more into their day I tell them to forget time management. We manage our time when we have enough of it. When we are stressed and under the pressure of delivering something on time we forget all of the methods and act like crazy headless chicken or chucks.

Over the years of my early career having worked with bankers, I learned that time is money, and efficiency is considered a must. Responsiveness during the job meant that I would call back immediately and respond to emails as fast as possible. Today, I feel this paradigm has shifted to social media, WhatsApp and other messaging systems. 

When you are constantly in response mode it is hard to get any work done. With the pandemic and all of us sitting on video calls all day you might often feel drained in the evening and as if you did not get a lot of important work done during the day. If this feeling continues during the week and then several weeks you might not only feel drained but also frustrated with yourself.

If you also struggle with productivity these seven tips will help you to claim back your diary. Do you want to have more time with family and friends? Do you want to start a new hobby or continue one you started years ago and then dropped? 

If your answer is “Yes, but I don’t have time”, practice one or two of the methods given below.

1- Have-Done Diary

In consulting firms, you have to maintain a timesheet in which you document daily how you use your time. This can be great to give you an understanding of where you are focused and where your priorities lie. Similarly, you can increase the value of this exercise by maintaining a daily diary in which you document your accomplished tasks (Have-Done-Diary). I recommend a notebook and handwriting for this exercise.

2 – The Pomodoro Method

Find your most productive time in the day and block 90 minutes for creative and conceptual work. Set a kitchen timer for the task to 25 minutes. Work without picking up the phone or checking emails or social media. Then take a five minutes break where you actually get up from your chair and move.

Then work for another 25 minutes and take another 5 minutes break and a third junk. See how much you accomplish with this method. This is called Pomodoro-Method and you can even get a timer on your browser.

For many professionals, the most important brain time is the early morning but I hear there is the other camp of night owls as well. So it is up to you to find your best 90 minutes in a day.

3 – The Eisenhower Matrix

When you are overwhelmed use an easy categorizer. So when you’re backed up on work and overwhelmed, using an easy categorizer will help manage your tasks. Work with an A, B, C, D categorization system whenever you add a task to your diary or task list. Use your time block for A tasks, schedule B tasks and delegate C tasks. If you can’t delegate to anyone think about blocking an hour in the afternoon to just work on those C tasks.

Very similar, but not exactly the same is to work with the next one.

4 – The Pareto Principle

“What is important is rarely urgent, what is urgent is rarely important.”

20% of the most important tasks will have an 80% of impact on our success according to the Pareto principle. So it is critical that we understand what these important tasks are that we should spend time on. One example: You might think you don’t have time to make networking a priority even if we know that if you want to move ahead in your current job or if you are looking for a new job, this will clearly be a game-changer. You might know that you should sit down and write that book you have been dreaming about for the last five years but other operational work always seems more important. The book would catapult you into the league of experts in your field and enhance your personal brand and might even give you the peace of mind that you have accomplished one of your “Big Five”.

5 – The Peace Island

In your busy and tightly scheduled day, try to build one island of peace. The island can be lunch with a good friend, a massage, running, or sitting outside watching birds. Simply put, taking the time out to enjoy a peaceful moment in the day. The island of peace needs to  be a place where you cannot use your smartphone or have it be switched off to ensure no distractions and  you are not allowed to take away tasks from this place. This could be your meditation space, your garden, or a café you love. Ideally, you bring your diary with you and use your time there for reflection.

6 – Repetition Checklists

Repetition, routine, and checklists are great ways to take the stress out of tasks that need to be accomplished but do not require much of our focus. I personally prefer to work on such tasks in the late afternoon or evening as I feel more available then. Examples are packing for an event, preparing your travel cost claim and scheduling meetings and other appointments. 

To establish a weekly routine especially if you are working from home every day right now I recommend a weekly planner, where you schedule a few regular tasks on one day of the week, for example on Mondays you endorse contacts on LinkedIn and you return the glass bottles during your lunch break.

7 – Outsourcing Housework

I encourage you to outsource your housework from grocery shopping to cleaning, this idea might be new or odd to some but it makes the most sense. Most of the housework you might still be stuck with but at least you can win about three hours per week and more importantly some peace if your house is cleaned by another person. You will also notice that you keep the house tidier if you have regular external help.

Add one of these practices to the weekly practices in the RockMeApp and answer the four reflection questions in the RockMeApp on a weekly basis. Practice one method for several weeks and let me know what happened. If you wish to further work on your focus and productivity I recommend you join our RockMeRetreat from 18 to 25 November 2021 in Switzerland at Kloster Ilanz. Sign up here to be invited and we’ll set up a call to discuss this further.


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. 

Zuerichhorn "Heureka"

Despite what is happening in the world I have been keeping myself really busy. Honestly, getting stuff done gives me deep satisfaction and having a lot of great client conversations raises my energy level to the max. So, I personally feel that I work on my mission to bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility and my team is helping me along.

However, many of you work in corporations and don’t have the luxury that I have where I can choose how I spend my time and with whom I am talking. Many of you still feel the pressure of having a boss or someone to report to and their demands sometimes drive you crazy.

However, being “busy” is not the same as being “effective” so I wanted to share a method that has helped me over the last few years to feel a sense of accomplishment over the holidays. You probably will notice that this year the annual Christmas rush and madness will be different. Not only because we work from home a lot more. I think that our common anxiety level is already a lot higher this year than in the past and working towards the year end might even seem less stressful this year because your adrenaline has been high the whole year. Please let me know if you wish to talk to me. I will give priority to clients but I am also available for our readers here for calls.

I wanted to list a few topics that I am observing in projects and conversations and give you a method on how you can deal with it in a playful way. This is also an activity where you can involve your family and as Chase Eskelen and yours truly recently wrote “Family Success is a Team Sport”.

(This just reminded me of my father and how he used to organize family meetings when we were kids. A funny thing at the time, but I assume that now it is a thing.)

The Perpetual Machine

What I am observing inside corporations and what increasingly frustrates me is the lack of accountability and constant waste of resources and time. It reminds me of Jean Tingeluy’s artwork “Heureka” at my favourite spot in Zurich. Often it seems that many functions and positions are just there to maintain a well-oiled machine but the value they add to the client or company they serve is minimal. 

Bad Data Quality

We also use a lot of time correcting or searching for data because the original source does not contain the data or the data is flawed. We have to rely on our brain to remember specific scenarios so we can cover all exceptional circumstances. We hire more consultants to help us administer a workflow tool that does not deliver the data we need instead of training the data entry specialist in the Philippines or in India so that the data is entered correctly. We implement three levels of controls instead of helping the first handler of the data to deliver a zero error quality report.

Flawed and Broken Processes

Do you often chase someone because they forgot to take action on an item they were supposed to deliver so you can continue your process. You might be correcting processes and mending broken ones because the decision makers do not understand the process and just run around like a headless chicken. Sometimes you might feel like a mother at work trying to collect the toys that the children left lying around all over the floor. You pick them up so that nobody trips but you are also not really noticed as you do your work quietly in the background.

Administration to Control Digitalization

Many digital processes still are in the baby’s shoes so they often need someone to check them and make sure that they are completed. I have been in arguments with my bank because they don’t offer a draft function so that I can enter payments right when I receive the invoice and execute them later when I have enough funds in the account. My payments regularly get stuck because of cash flow issues. Then I need to build an administration around the digital process. And the funny thing is that here they always blame the customer. They hardly ever say: “This is an interesting idea and if we can help you with that we will consider it.”. 

Lack of Integration

The more digital you work the more you miss the link between systems. Be it through platforms or API’s. However, often you work with many different tools and providers and then it is your responsibility to link them all and like LEGO build a castle or a spaceship from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I like IKEA approaches too, but sometimes I wish I had more detailed understanding of programming languages so I could focus on important deep work rather than fixing the lack of integration of various tools.

Sometimes I feel we lost all of our ideals of Total Quality Management from the good old nineties. At the end of a day we often feel totally exhausted but haven’t achieved anything meaningful. 

What I have noticed is that I can live with certain flaws in my personal space. I can accept a less than perfect light in the bathroom but I cannot accept it in my work. 

One of the reasons why my apartment almost looks the same as five years ago is that my energy goes more into my profession. Now that we are spending more time at home it has become more of a priority for me so I clean up regularly and try to keep the recycling piles low. I also have a few home improvement projects to work on. However, the paid work usually takes over and that leads to me not speaking to good friends forever (SORRY!).

The 25 Priorities Kanban Board

In our team, we have developed a visualization method (The 25 Priorities Kanban Board) to help us prioritize work before we add them to Slack, Trello and the number of G-Sheets that I use for planning. I am a big fan of planning and consistency so this method basically helps me to keep track of my priorities and get stuff done.

You need 

  • A stack of colorful post-it notes.
  • A few big pens
  • A flipchart size (A1) poster or a blank wall.

Here is how it goes:

  • Five Pink Post-It Notes (Work Projects)- Here you write down your five most important work projects to complete until Mid-December.
  • Five Green Post-It Notes (Home Improvement) – Write down five projects you wish to complete at home before the holidays. 
  • Five Yellow Post-It Notes (People) – Write down five people you wish to connect with before the year-end.  
  • Five Orange Post-It Notes (Love Tasks) – Write down five requests of your partner or children that you would like to fulfil until the year-end.
  • Five White Post-It Notes (Self-Care) – Here you write down five wishes that you will grant yourself before the year-end.

Send me a photo of your Kanban Board and observe what happens.

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