Efficient work. In search of the ideal process.
T he IT industry I work in offers plenty of methodologies and solutions facilitating productivity. Agile, Waterfall, RUP and many others are aimed at initiating teamwork and minimizing the risks. The products like TFS, Jira and others aid in the technical arrangement of human interaction processes in the teams and successful work on the project or standalone tasks. A lot of articles and courses help us to find the way around, choose and manage an efficient and comfortable process of attaining our goals. The IT industry boasts a lot of workable solutions, methodologies, products aimed at productive operations and efficient processes.
The nature of the work is clear – everything is set up and operates properly. But what about the personal goals, projects, tasks outside work? Is it possible to design an efficient process based on the IT methodology for the tasks outside work? Every day we solve the problems unrelated to the main job. We stick some labels on the fridge, make notes on the phone, keep a diary, a calendar etc. In this article, I will describe my process used for attaining my personal goals, planning, fulfilling the tasks and projects unrelated to my job.
Gathering statistics and analyzing the data
A week ago I read an article the author of which tried to utilize Agile to organize the home tasks. The stand-ups, the two-week long sprint and the “family retrospective”. Hah! Sounds terrific. I think the IT methodologies are not really suitable for the home tasks. The life can’t be divided into sprints, this may result in fatigue too soon. Yet, I apply some elements – planning, grouping the tasks in the projects, estimating the completion time, setting goals with SMART, using the Pomodoro technique. All this helps me to design a good process in order to achieve the desired goals.
Anyone completing the tasks follows a certain process, consciously or unawares. It can be a simple process – plan a task, do it, forget about it. Or it may be more complicated – set a goal, plan the tasks, completes the tasks, analyzes the result. A more complex process involves making the planning notes, choosing the goals, dividing them into the projects, outlining the tasks, registering the task completion and analyzing the reports. To design efficient completion of the home tasks, it is necessary to understand the current process, gather the statistics on the completed goals, projects, tasks for a lengthy period of time. Then it is possible to analyze the result and make corrections to the process.
I have been using iSmartLife application for over half a year and I have gathered the information about what I have been doing, when, how, with whom. It’s a very simple application; you can make notes, set goals, initiate projects and tasks in it. Also, the applications show your activity. The activity reduces every day and it has to be raised by the activity (fulfilling the established tasks). The application encloses the report section. Here is the report of my activity for half of the year:
The report clearly points out to the process changes. Now, I will go into detail on what the process has been like and how it changes.
Ideal process search
The previous process was very plain - I established the goals for half a year, grouped them in the projects to be performed, and created the tasks to be completed. I tried to separate the tasks in order to allow from 1 to 4 hours for each of those. Because I had the main job and devoted my time to it from Monday to Friday, I managed to tackle one or two tasks on business days. The peak of the load was on the weekends (as evidenced by the left part of the activity chart). Generally, everything is pretty simple - I have the goals, the projects, the tasks to be performed and registered as done.
This process is simple and efficient. I did a lot of hobby projects, tasks associated with education, improvement, and maintenance of the home, and attained most of the established goals. However, the left part of the activity chart exhibits the activity oscillations. My weekends were overloaded with the tasks, I would often get tired and have to suspend the work on the tasks. In addition, overworking hinders the motivation fuses irritability and increases the number of errors in the tasks. This all leads to suspension of work for a while (the chart downturns say it all).
Analyzing all of those results, I decided to improve the process:
- I have started planning the tasks for a week (previously, I covered a lengthier period of time). And this is good because I clearly understand what and when I will be able to do within a week;
- I schedule very simple tasks related to education or no tasks at all for Monday and Friday;
- I alternate the physical work with intellectual activities;
- I distribute the tasks more evenly, avoid overloading the weekends;
- on Sundays, I pay more time to rest and identifying the tasks for the next week;
- I attempt to complete the maximum number of tasks before the vacation;
- if someone can do my task better, I try to delegate it.
This change has yielded tangible results. You can see this on the activity chart (right part). The work has become steadier, free of rapid ups and downs. Besides, the number of completed tasks has increased as compared to the previous period, which is proved by the chart:
At this time, it is my ideal process that helps me attain the established goals and makes my work very productive. Of course, sometime later I may review it and make additional changes. A personal process may not be steady, it’s just like life, the life changes and so do the processes.
The personal work process is influenced by multiple factors (like age, goals, sex, country, experience etc) and certainly, it may differ from person to person. Hopefully, my short essay helps you to arrange and improve your own ideal process that will promote an increase in the productivity, completion of your established goals and improvement in your life quality. Do it! You can achieve better results!
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