Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Personal Kaizen

It's the first of the month today, so my calendar has reminded me to do two things: update my CPD and do "personal Kaizen". My CPD is relatively mundane and has been going on a long time, but my personal Kaizen is a recent thing that I've been doing only for the last few months.

Over the last month, I tried a couple of things to improve the way I do things and these were:
  • Outlook categories
  • Outlook flags
These were respectively practically pointless and a huge success for me.

The problem I found with outlook categories is that I ended up spending more time managing the categories than I did using them. Email titles and bodies contain almost all of the relevant information and can be searched effectively. (I'm still quite prone to organising my mail into a folder structure though which is maybe at odds with this view, but because of this, I spend very little time searching).

However, the Outlook flags were incredibly useful to me, particularly with the To-Do bar visible in the 2007 version. I used to create tasks in my task list and add appointments to my calendar and realised that 80% of the time, I was doing this in response to an email. So, simply being able to mark an email as to-do today, tomorrow, next week, or by a specific date, I can do this in a single click most of the time, then file away the email without going round the houses. This fits in well with the way I think also, because if I have an idea of something to do or I stumble upon something important on the internet (particularly if I have the idea at home), I usually send myself a mail.

To build on this and to try some completely new things, this month I'll be trying to:
  • Use Outlook tasks to set deadlines with/for other people
  • Create "vision boxes" to create very obvious visionary metaphors for new projects

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