Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Effectively Focused: 2 - Categorize

Previous Post1: Capture - write everything down

Principle #2: Categorize 

You will probably be circling a bit between #2 Categorize and #3 Summarize as you figure out how to organize the information you just captured. I encourage the categorizing first as when you summarize you will also be color-coding what you categorized if you are using the Sticky Note PM posters, project book, or stickies. 

Once you have a good chunk of stickies and have emptied your brain of the clutter of things you need to accomplish, the next pass is to group and categorize the items. Don't feel obligated to use every single column. Once you start getting organized, it's easy to go overboard and try to categorize and group into many many groups. Gentle reminder: simplicity should be a mantra as you work through your processes. There are two recommendations I give when grouping:
  • Don't create too many categories. Keep it as simple as possible.
  • Leave some open columns. This allows yourself some flexibility if you have to break groups out into smaller groups. 

The Backlog

This list you have captured and are now organizing is known as a Backlog. The project in this post is my "Energy Drain List," which is basically a list of projects and household things I need to do to make my home as homey, organized, and tidy as possible. It's a big project.  This is this project's Backlog. Below is the first pass at broad strokes of categorizing. The project is "Energy Drain" which is titled on the left side. I've been using Marie Kondo's methods of streamlining and organizing my home and studio from her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing(Details on what I love about her methods in a future post.) I roughly grouped the work into these four categories:
  • Personal KonMari
  • KGS KonMari
  • House Projects
  • Cleaning
Backlog - Wall Poster

Backlog - Project Book

A sample of a single category of the Backlog in the Project book.


Once you are satisfied with your groupings, you can go to the next step of aligning the groups into a color. I'm a little OCD with my tasks and like neat (but flexible!) lists. I've already written things down on the color-coded stickies, but you may want to hold off (or not) until you've gone through  Principle #3: Summarize.

Here is the color-coded version:

More Grouping

Normally I would recommend stopping with the above color-coded version of this project. However, the beauty of this system is the flexibility and doing what makes sense to you. In my case, I want to put a deadline on the majority of these tasks. There was a grouping of tasks under House Projects that required a significant investment of time and I wouldn't be able to finish them by the target date. So, I separated the House Projects and created a group called Maintenance. 

Don't feel committed to the categories you create. I change the categories as much as I need to in order to feel comfortable which will be covered Principle #7: Flexibility. Adapting to change is another core principle of this framework. Keep tweaking things until YOU feel totally comfortable. The categorizing can feel challenging, but just remember: keep it simple.  Don't get overzealous with breaking things down into tiny categories.

P.S. - The Backlog posters and Project Books with coordinating stickies are available in the Shop.

Next Post - Principle 3: Summarize - summarize by the end result (not the action / verb)

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