How to become a structure junkie
Formulating goals that you want to achieve in the coming years isn’t that hard. A little bit of daydreaming and brainstorming can get you quite far. However, structuring your work and life to realize your goals can be a little bit more challenging. A little confronting fact from doing the 16 personalities test is that I am more prone to working intuitively (read: chaotic and unstructured) instead of according to a well formulated plan with structure. In my quest to find the right methods to do so, I am sharing my favourite options with you today! Read on if you are in need of some structure in your life.
Set up our own Kanban board
We’ve elaborated on making a personal backlog before, which is basically a large to do list where everything can be added without any structure or prioritization. The next step is to prioritize and select the tasks that you would like to take on right now. I would recommend five or less, as that is a manageable amount without switching back and forth too much in between tasks. The five tasks move from your backlog to the Kanban board. Kanban is just a fancy Japanese word of a visual board where you can keep track of everything you still need to do, what is in progress and what is done. My favourite (free) ones are kanban flow or taiga tree. But what even works better for me is a plain old whiteboard or wall with some post-its. That way, it is way more present in my environment, reminding me of my tasks. I use little backlogs when I need to do stuff for careerlions.com, but also when I need to do some cleaning and chores around the house.
Last Planner System for goal achievement
In LEAN construction, a method to achieve milestones in a construction project planning is the Last Planner System. Choosing the right things do to right now, for a turnover date five years in the future could be quite the task to manage. Therefore, the Last Planner System (LPS) was introduced. LPS is a conceptual model that works with planning at different abstraction levels.
- In the Master Planning only milestones are formulated.
- In the Phase Planning a roadmap is defined for the upcoming two or three months, where the production capacity is matched with the demand.
- The Make Ready Planning is defined into assignments and tasks for the upcoming six weeks. Here the tasks and assignments have to be defined through the question: Are assignments specific enough that the right type and amount of materials can be collected, work can be coordinated with other trades, and it is possible to measure at the end of the week if the assignment was completed?
- The Weekly Work planning contains tasks from the Make Ready Planning, visualized on a Kanban board for example.
- The last level is called Learning, for example with Daily Stands where one evaluates yesterday’s tasks, today’s tasks and what the lessons learned are. This functions as input for the next Weekly Work planning.
According to Ballard, this planning system is based on the production capacity within a project, avoiding over optimistic planning and failing to realize it. Sounds like the way we want to achieve our goals without burning out, right?
Become a structure junkie
Dutch blogger Cynthia Schultz is known for her structured way to get things done and now she has shared here structuring knowledge into a workbook called Werkboek voor een structuur junkie in spe. In English, it can be translated as Workbook for a structure junkie in the making. Now that sounded like something I could use a bit more of. In her book, she elaborates on different methods to snip up goals into actionable tasks and realize your dreams. My fave chapter so far is the one that contains a checklist of the most common mistakes of not clearing your to do list.
- Indulging into distraction from social media;
- Checking email all day long instead of batching;
- Sitting all day long (standing or walking from time to time stimulates productivity);
- Saying yes to everything (here are also my methods to say no more easily)
- Sleeping badly;
- Eating badly or completely forgetting to eat;
- Meetings that go on for hours.
Caught yourself on a few of these points? That could be a reason why you’re not as productive as you wish. I catch myself on multitasking, sitting all day, sleeping badly, forgetting meals, and having a lot of (long) meetings. To cope with that I try to plan a full morning or day a week to work from home, without any distractions. I have been pleased with my personal increase in productivity!
What about you? Are you a structure junkie with some tips and tricks we could use? Or are you going to try out some of the methods we’ve elaborated on today? We have reviewed even more structure and planning tools, so there's a lot of options for you to choose from.