How to lose your excess baggage (and not pick it up again)


I received a great question from Sarah Turner in response to my post, ‘It’s Time to Leave Your Excess Baggage Behind’.  Sarah asked if I had any processes to help do this and yes I do.  In this blog, I will outline a process I have found to be a very effective way to manage my, and a team’s workload.

Agile is a simple and versatile approach

The process is based on Agile principles.  Many people believe Agile is a software development process methodology.  It is, and it is also so much more.  Agile principles work well in any situation where you have to manage the flow of work activities.  I used it to manage the creation of a new business.

Anyhow, let’s jump in.  I provide an overview below, but this is a process which deserves a lot more detailed explanation.  To help you put it to good use, I have provided a detailed process description as an add-on to this post at the end.

The key steps

Step 1:  Complete your GOST plan.  I wrote about this in a prior post and it is essential you are clear on where you are going and how you will get there.

Step 2:  From the GOST, create a list of tactics.  Size them using a rough measure of how much time is required to complete them.  Once each item is sized, prioritize them, considering dependencies and ultimate value potential.

Step 3:  Set a work period that you will manage.  It could be a day, week or month.  This is the period of time you will work to complete your tactics without resetting scope and priorities.

Step 4:  For your next work period, determine your capacity.  Reduce your capacity for time you are not available, for example vacation, doctor’s appointments and the like.  Reduce your available capacity by 20%, so you hold back some capacity as a buffer to cover the unknown.

Step 5:  Commit tactics to the work period until the available capacity is used up.  Commit them based on the relative priority of the items.  Now you will have a list of tactics you will complete in the work period.

Step 6:  Start work on the highest priority items and finish them before you start lower priority ones.  Starting too many items at once is a certain way to get bogged down.

Step 7:  Review progress towards completing your tactics on a regular basis.  Use this time to step back and assess if you have problems and/or need to try a different approach.

Step 8:  At end of the work period, review what got done and what didn’t.  For those items that didn’t get done, move them to the next period and start the process over.

An unexpected benefit

The above process may sound daunting or bureaucratic.  If that is the case, I understand your point of view and that is how I felt at the beginning.  If you stick with it, you will find it becomes quite easy.  I had not expected the most valuable benefit.  By planning and managing the important things, I no longer needed to carry them around with me.  My anxiety level dropped and I felt in control.

I highly recommend downloading the process companion below.  Once you see how I have used the process, it will become much clearer for you.

I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.  Please let me know.