Adam Sandler's Netflix special, 100% Fresh, has been on my to-watch list since the moment it was released.
Like most Gen Y's, Billy Maddison essentially shaped my childhood, and the songs in this special did not disappoint me.
While reminiscing on the ol' school Adam Sandler days throughout the special, there was one song in particular that stuck out at a very different angle to what The Sandman probably had in mind.
Sandler raps about how simple life was when the only things he had to remember were his phone, wallet and keys.
Three essential and very minimalistic everyday items.
Which got me thinking...
We live in a society where we insist on making things complicated, and we don't even realise it.
Nowhere is this truer than in the world of workflow. With so many conveniences at our digital fingertips, life should be getting more simple. Software, virtual assistants, and productivity hacks.
But if I'm honest, our workflows are anything but simple.
So we've done the leg work for you, combing two straightforward yet marvellous productivity methods that have shaped the way we optimise our workflows.
So enough of the Netflix and chill, let's get down to business.
Credit: Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
What exactly is Kanban?
Kanban is a straightforward method that can be quickly adopted by anyone in any industry. Teams, organisations or even just yourself.
The method enables you to optimise the flow of your work and track your productivity through the power of visual information, the Kanban board.
A picture is worth a thousand words and studies have shown that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.
A Kanban board enables you to witness each individual task on your to-do list and move them through a straightforward workflow.
The board set up is a no-brainer.
By using either sticky notes on a whiteboard or, a web-based application such as Notion, map your workload with these five elements, and you will undoubtedly set yourself up for success.
- Visual signals - Write up your projects or tasks onto cards. Once on the board, these cards will help you to understand what you are currently working on.
- Columns - Each column represents a specific activity to compose a “workflow” such as to-do, in progress and complete. Your cards should flow through each column until completion.
- Commitment point or to-do - The commitment point is where you can store ideas for future projects or tasks, so you know when to pick up your next job and start working on it without leaving behind any current jobs.
- Work in progress (WIP) limits - WIP limits are the max number of cards allowed in one column at any given time. This helps to avoid any bottlenecks in the workflow.
A column with a limit of three tasks must not exceed the imposed limit. When the WIP column is “maxed,” you need to pay attention to these cards and work out how to move them forward before any new cards can flow through.
- Delivery point or complete - This is the end of a Kanban workflow. Your overall goal through this process is to take cards from the commitment point to the delivery point as quickly as possible.
Your board should look a little something like this:
The low down on focus booster (in case you didn't know)
Every man and his dog has either heard of or tried the ever so famous time management framework, the pomodoro technique.
If you haven't, here's the low down:
- Choose a task
- Focus for 25 minutes
- Take a short 5-minute break
- Repeat steps 2 and 3, three more times
- Take a longer break of about 20 minutes.
Think of focus booster as that really great but really honest friend. You love them for who they are, but you are also slightly afraid because at any point they can shoot you with an honest comment, which leads you into a moment of self-reflection.
For example, one day, you may be using focus booster religiously. You smashed through all of your work, checked your session report and realised that you completed everything you had set out to do.
Maybe you even awarded yourself with an early minute!
The next, you forgot to start the timer, a lack of motivation started to kick in, and you entered a downhill spiral of procrastination.
You remembered that high you were on only yesterday and then it dawns on you. You have absolutely nothing to show for today, and your session report demonstrates precisely that.
Meanwhile, coworkers are leaving the office on time, and you are sitting at your desk with your head in your hands, dreading the idea of the overtime to come.
For me, focus booster is, without a doubt, the most honest yet idiot-proof productivity app that has ever graced my computer screen.
All you need to do is start the timer, and you are in for a top-notch day. Idiot-proof, right?
How combining the two will create the most simplified workflow of your dreams
Outside of focus booster, the team works on a lot of large projects for our clients.
So we really needed a tool to help map these projects piece by piece to reach the required deadlines.
That's where Kanban boards and in particular, Notion come into play.
By utilising the board, this has given the team and particularly the developers more flexible planning options, faster output and transparency throughout the cycle of the projects.
As an experiment, for a full week, each member of our team created their own individual Kanban boards in Notion with projects, tasks or goals we aim to achieve.
Throughout the week, we teamed the boards up with our regular use of focus booster and got cracking.
Here is a quick guide:
- Plan your tasks - List each task for the week in the to-do column. If there is a larger project that requires more time, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks, e.g. multiple cards.
- Allocate pomodoros - At the beginning of each day, move cards from the to-do list and place them in today's column. Allocate how many pomodoro sessions each card might take, so you can visualise what your day is going to look like ahead of time. This avoids setting any unrealistic expectations.
- Get to work - When you are ready to start, move a card from today's list into the WIP column, start your 25-minute timer in focus booster so you can stick to your allocated pomodoro sessions. Remember to keep taking your 5-minute breaks.
- Evaluate - Once you have completed the estimated pomodoro sessions for a card, evaluate. Have you completed the task? Great! Move it into the complete column.
If you haven't completed the task, ask yourself, "how much do I have left to do? Will one more pomodoro session be enough to complete the task now? Or, can this be left until tomorrow?"
- Reflect - As the week comes to a close, now is an excellent time to reflect back on your achievements. Are you satisfied with the level of work you accomplished this week? Were your pomodoro estimations accurate? If not, what can you change next week to avoid any bottlenecks within your workflow?
This is an example of what my board looked like for the week:
And what my pomodoro plan looked like:
Our team's overall results
At the end of the week, our team completed a survey answering a few questions about Kanban and how well it worked for us.
"Kanban allowed me to visualise and prioritise my tasks better which can be rather difficult with other techniques. I liked how it allowed me to visually group tasks into columns such as "waiting" instead of forcing me to scan over all tasks to see which ones I needed to follow up on, which is the case for GTD. There is also a lower cognitive load with using Kanban since you don't really need to review and plan all tasks a week in advance."
Overall, the team rated Kanban a solid 4.6 out of 5!
You can take a further look on the teams overall results and opinions in our Typeform survey.
All in all, a very productive week was had by everyone, and I sat down to a moment of Netflix and chill without a guilty conscious hanging over me because I had wiped out my to-do list.
If you haven't checked out our recent blog post where we introduced the focus booster team, in a nutshell, we're a bunch of self-confessed Netflix bingers in our spare time. In a world of streaming, who isn't!
The song, phone, wallet, keys has now embedded itself into my brain and become a daily mantra of mine.
Leaving the house? I better remember my phone, wallet and keys.
As a result, I haven't locked myself out of my apartment, and the individual workflows of our team are only becoming more streamlined as the weeks go on.
If you or someone you know could use a bit more structure within their workflow this week, give our guide a go! Make sure you let us know.
Keen to see us try any other tools in conjunction with focus booster? Hit us up!