Capacity of self

One of the highlights of the past week was that I went to a free lecture by Mary Poppendick at Crisp in Stockholm. It’s quite interesting how your thought processes can be activated when shown the right materials.

During the presentation Mary gave a brief overview of both Kanban and Scrum, emphasizing on measuring the capacity of the team. Which started me thinking about capacity of one-self and to do-lists.

In GTD, the capturing process is designed to produce a lot of small tasks, that are ready for consumption at moments notice. But there is no measurement of capacity. Meaning that if your capacity is lower than the average arrival rate of tasks, you’ll end up with a never-ending inventory of work.

Now if you read my previous post on Inventory in software, you should know that I believe that inventories can be a great source of waste. As soon as you ad an inventory that inventory consumes time and money in management.

This means that what you might end up with is an inventory of tasks, so large that the management time for it steals valuable time from other tasks.

Enter Pomodoro. Pomodoro like GTD also focus on getting things done. But it reminds me more of a personal scrum system. The focus is much more on estimation and knowing you capacity.

By knowing your capacity, it can help you prioritize items and even see for your self that. Given the current capacity you will never reach item X. If you know this, you also know that unless you change your plans to give space for item X you might as well give up on the idea of ever doing X.

The way Staffan Nötenberg recommends measuring your capacity is by crossing of all your finished “tasks” or “Pomodoros”, in essence giving you both the satisfaction of completing it but also giving you visible statistics for how well you process is working for you. This and given the built in task size of Pomodoro, makes it easy to know your capacity. Which should help you when you are reflecting on your plans.

Where the two techniques differ is in doing. David Allen suggests three models of doing, Pomodoro could be seen as a fourth. But Pomodoro focus on committing to tasks on a day by day basis, where GTD lets your intuition play a role in which task to do next.

Both techniques imply structure, and I see Pomodoro to be the more “formal” of the two processes. Which leads me to concluded that the technique best suited for a given person is highly individual, not only in how the person wants to work, but also in what your tasks might look like.

It’s quite possible to combine the two, though I have yet to try that out. Apparently these things take time to adapt to your own personal way of life.