If Your To-Do List is Empty, there is No Fun

Portable Scrum or Kanban Board -- Do It Yourself Project; © 2013 Jens R. Woinowski, leanself.org

Recently, a reader of this blog made an interesting remark, which is the title of today’s post. It actually made me wonder: how happy are we if our to-do list is empty? And how full can it be until we become unhappy?

Let’s assume you have a Personal Kanban board:

  • If the “Waiting” and “Work in Progress” columns are empty, that would be really strange. If it happens in your job, your boss might realize it as well. Long-term perspective: Not happy with empty list.
  • On the other hand, if they are too full, then you may be a victim of “Muri” waste (overburden). Especially, if the “Work in Progress” column is too full. This can lead to multitasking and reduces your effectiveness significantly.
  • If the “Done” column is empty, that surely is no fun.
  • If the “Done” column is very full, you just might want to do a little clean-up session for your board. Maybe you celebrate the occasion.
  • Regarding the “Blocker” or “Impediments” column it’s easy: You want to have that as empty as possible at all times. If not, focus on reducing the blockers.

Of course, this is about your day-to-day to-dos. Here is another perspective: If you have some future projects you might want to start (like writing a book or building a new rocket model), then the view changes. The extreme kind of such a to-do list is called bucket list lifestyle.

The kind of balance you want to achieve with your bucket list is surely different from a Personal Kanban board. If that list is empty, fun might be really lacking. So my advice is:

Organize your daily chores well so that you have time for the items on the bucket list and don’t forget to pull some items from the bucket to the to-do list.

What do you think? What’s in your bucket?



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