Moving post-it notes into the ready column at the start of the week is the key move in Kanban for Entrepreneurs. It’s where the game (and your week) is won or lost.
There are two things you need to consider when choosing which post-it notes (tickets) go into the ready column.
Can I get this done this week?
Do I know what done looks like?
Do you remember what the theory first habit of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” was?
Two points for Gryffindor if you said “begin with the end in mind”
Think about it. How can you be sure you can complete a task if you don’t know what done looks like?
Working with my students in achiever formula we’ve identified five key traps and how to avoid them when deciding what tasks you are going to complete this week.
Get this right and you’ll have a great week and build crucial momentum. Because in Kanban for Entrepreneurs – it’s not just checking boxes it’s about establishing progress and flow.
Trap 1 – Vague and Fluffy Tasks
All to often I see a post-it note on the board that says something like “research this market”. That’s just too open ended.
How are you going to research the market? Where are you going look? How long are you going to spend? What process are you going to follow?
By being more specific you will know when you have achieved your result.
Spoiler alert: sitting in front of your computer is not research!
A much better ticket would look like “spend 30 minutes researching pains, gains and jobs to be done in the most popular forum for my market”. This way you know what done looks like and you have a time limit.
If you spend 30 minutes researching the pains, gains and jobs to be done you can move the ticket from the ready column to the done column and get your flow on fleek.
Trap 2 – You can’t measure your outcome
Sometimes i’ll see a post-it note which looks like “create launch videos”. There is no way to measure this.
How many videos are you meant to do? Is it three, four? You wouldn’t know and when you don’t know, it’s very likely this ticket is not removed from the ready column or it ends up in the dreaded “Pen” column before the end of the week. You need to break down the task and define how many videos you are actually going to do. Then you can measure whether you are done or not.
Trap 3 – Creating tasks out of your control
This point can be really tricky. It’s also the main reason your post-it note ends up in “The Pen” instead of the Done column.
Simply, if you can’t control whether the task is finished or not. You’re much better off rewording the task. Let me give you an example.
A common one my clients deal with is submitting an app for approval. Typically, they would write “publish the app in the App Store” as a tickets for the week. The problem is, they have no control over this, ultimately Apple has to approve the app. Which means they can have done everything they were meant to do that at the end of the week and they have to put the ticket in the pen because it’s not done yet. The outcome is out of their control.
A much better way to write this ticket is to say “submit the app into the App Store for approval”. Boom! The moment you’ve submitted the app into Apple for approval, you’re off the hook and you can move the ticket into the done column. Apple will let you know when it’s finished and approved and you can go ahead and publish.
Wording the post-it note in this way you’ve made sure the ticket outcome is 100% in your control.
You an’t do this all the time, but it’s a good goal to have. (As I type this I have two such tickets staring at me in the Pen).
Trap 4 – The ticket will take more than a week to complete
Want to know where maximum frustration comes from – right here baby.
The most important part of Kanban for Entrepreneurs is ensuring you SEE flow, a momentum to your work. Seeing the tickets move from the ready column to the done column is crucial. Doubly so for the vast majority of entrepreneurs!
It’s super important you creat tickets that can be completed in the week.
Working with MagCasters I often see a ticket in a ready column which says something like “published next issue of my magazine”. This, is not usually, something that can be completed in a week!
Making a magazine is made up of many tasks including things like collating articles, design and coding it ready for publishing.
You need to chunk down this task into its individual components that can be completed in the week you are setting them. An achievable ticket for the week might read “gather the five editorial stories we are going to be using to publish in the next issue” not only is this specific and measurable, it’s a much better ticket.
You’re more likely to get the dopamine rush of moving the ticket from the ready column to the done column. You may think all this brain chemical talk is crazy but it works.
Trap 5 – Moving epics into the ready column
Just like I’m doing with this blog post, rather than having a ticket which says do blog post, Monday I create five tickets based on the key sections of the task. If you want to see how I trick myself into writing you can read that article here.
I know it seems weird. But by breaking down tasks into individual components and being able to move those tickets into the done column is psychologically huge you as an entrepreneur. When you’re working by yourself (in particular, when you have a day job and you’re trying to create something for yourself on the side) the visual feedback you are actually achieving things is imperative.
Your brain has a limited operating capacity so it needs to clear things out so it can worry about the next thing. By moving your tickets across-the-board your brain sees stuff happening.When you conduct your retrospective (a non-judgmental approach to looking back at what worked and what didn’t during the past week) you can see you are moving forward.
This gives you the energy you need to suit up again for another week. If you use avoid these five traps you’re way more likely to move those post-it notes into the done column and see that you truly are making progress
Got a question? Feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to look at it.
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