Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Multi-tasking and Kanban

I was at a presentation on Kanban put on by the local agile group tonight. I'm familiar with Kanban, but still picked up some good information.

One thing that struck a chord with me had to do with multi-tasking. In a previous blog post, I've discussed how multi-tasking doesn't work. In tonight's presentation, a statistic was shared that software developers waste 20% of their time when they are multi-tasking.

Kanban is the solution. The idea is you only take 1 task at a time and work until that task is done before you grab another one. You don't have a long backlog of work and you're not trying to manage a full plate of work with all the task switching that goes with it.

I find I'm more successful when I take this approach to work. At the beginning of the day, I figure out the tasks I need to accomplish. While I'm working on a task, I do my best to avoid interruptions. I ignore my email and avoid other distractions (or at least I try). I'll catch back up on email and other stuff when the task is done. It helps when I can keep tasks to an hour or less. If it's a big project, I break it into smaller chunks.

So if you find you are often interrupted, look at how you can break your work into small chunks and turn off the distractions while you complete your task.

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