An analytical mind can be dangerous. Those gifted with such a mind see many possibilities in our work. We also see many problems in those possibilities. We then see options around the problems. Then, we see problems with the options. The gift becomes more of a challenge. The analysis of work becomes a trap.

Of course, we don't have one type of work. We need to accomplish many things for ourselves and for others. Then, we bump into others trying to do the same thing—get stuff done. Whether online or in-person, the path to get all our stuff done each day becomes crowded.

I find three things help to find that simplest path to done each day:

  1. Visualize your work
  2. Limit your work in progress
  3. Share your path

Let's explore each of these briefly.

Visualize your work

Sometimes, the best way to get the work and the problems out of your head is to get them on something else. By "writing down," we can also "write out" the nagging problems in our heads. But it has to be in a trusted system that we know we can come back to at any time and look at all the work and all the problems.

A personal kanban represents such a trusted system. We can walk away to catch a breath and then come back to look at the patterns in the work. Patterns can help us see other paths and find the simplest path.

A screenshot of multiple tables in showing columns with Options, Next, Work in Progress and Done.  Each column has cards showing different professional and personal tasks.
A snapshot of some of my professional and family work on my personal kanban.

Limit Your Work In Progress

We can't do it all at the same time. Our brains struggle with multitasking. Yet, focusing on one thing until done seems impossible. The next best thing? Limit the work in progress. Minimize the number of things you move forward so this minimum set gets done. Then pick the next minimum set. Look for that simpler path.

Another screenshot of my Workflowy boards with the WIP tag activated and only a limited number of task cards being displayed.
My personal kanban filtered for Work In Progress (WIP)

Share Your Path

All humans process patterns well. We process patterns better together. So make your path visible to others. Invite them on the journey. Ask what patterns they see. They may help you find a way to limit more work and find that simpler path to done.

I share more about finding that simpler path with personal kanban in the following video:

A 15-minute description of Personal Kanban and how it differs from Kanban as an organizational system.

Hope this helps,

P.S. If you would like to see how this and other techniques can simplify your work on a distributed team, come check out our live online event on April 4, 2024. If you just want to learn more about Personal Kanban, come join me at the free community at Modus Institute.

P.P.S. Some people have asked about the tool I'm showing in some of the screenshots. It's which I started using in Dec 2014. It was so simple and useful I started paying for it less than a year later. When they added tables in June 2020, I had everything I needed to build a highly flexible and robust personal kanban. I get nothing for this endorsement. I just highly recommend it if you want to build your customized productivity tracking board.