Personal Swimlanes

I was recently facing a bit of a conundrum. I was trying to work out why I was reading far more using Audible than I was out of paper or even kindle books. The obvious answer was because because I was listening to 45 minutes of audiobooks at double speed every morning but I was only getting half an hour every other night with my real book (currently Waltzing with Bears). The former I was fairly sleepy at the start of the day, the latter as I’m trying to keep my eyes opening in the evening.

The obvious answer I came up was because I was spending less time with my mind on the physical book. But also most likely because I could listen further than I could read.

However, as I pondered the question a little further I also realised that I was trying to do several things in that precious 30 minutes in an evening. I journal every day, I am reading a book on my kindle as well as the paper book and I enjoy painting my Warhammer and Game of Thrones minatures to undwind. In other words I had too much WIP in my evening routine!

We all know that WIP is very bad news and kills all productivity, what I had uncovered in my own routine was a bottleneck where I was trying to push several projects through the same 30 minute space in my day.

Wondering where else these existed I began thinking about my working day and carved my time into three categories. These are Hands Free, which are tasks I can complete while my hands and eyes are occupied on something else like driving or housework. Computer, which I spend a lot of time at so I created two parts. Hands On, which are times when I can complete a task with my hands. For example reading a paper book or painting my toy soliders.

I decided to call these Personal Swimlanes, you can now clearly see why I was having so much trouble delivering on the last one. I was thrashing between the various projects with no focus on any of them.

So, what’s the solution?

Well – you’re looking at it. By indentifying which work falls into each categories I can properly throttle WIP coming through and prioritising. Right now I’m focusing all my “Hands On” time on finishing Waltzing with Bears. When I finish that (in 70 odd pages) I’ll look at what the next project to move onto is. At the moment it’s looking like that unit of Ultramarines I picked up the other day!

What Swimlanes do you have in your day? Am I missing any? How do you focus your precious hands on time to make sure you focus on one project before moving onto the next?

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