Metaworking

Trello fascinated me upon its release in 2011. I’ve written before about my time management (lack of) skills, and Trello appeared to be my solution - it offered a sleek view of all of my outstanding tasks. Try as I might, I could not make Trello work for me. Over and over again, I would fail to use it. I just could not make myself stick with it. There was a captivating quality about Trello, however, because it was constantly mentioned in tweets, blogs, and articles. I wanted to make it work for me but it seemed that I just could not.

Fast forward six years, and I’m in a similar situation. This time, instead of Trello, I’m using JIRA. Instead of tracking my personal tasks, I’m tracking work tasks.

I’ve been successfully tracking tasks this way for over a month - far longer than any Trello expedition. Upon reflection, this metaworking scheme works for me because:

  • I’ve mentally assigned a block of hours during the day to be working hours.
  • My tasks are private (to my immediate team) so I am comfortable entering any unit of work large or small.
  • JIRA makes entering and updating tasks easy.

Here’s the “no shit” realization I had with this new method:

I was making the time to organize my tasks. At the same time, I was breaking large tasks into their constituent parts, making each sub-task appear more easily attainable.

Two simple things: make time to identify the task and break the task down into individual units of work.

Task management 101, right? I was never able to previously grasp and implement these two key task management components because I either did not spend enough time thinking about the problem (work pays me for time, ergo I am motivated to spend the time thinking about this problem), or I did not frame the problem properly. This framing issue is why JIRA has worked for me: I can quickly and easily view and edit my tasks in the Kanban board. I can create sub-tasks to break one large unit of work down into smaller, manageable units of work. JIRA presents a representation of my tasks that closely aligns with how I think about them.

The longer I use JIRA, the lower the amount of overhead I spend on entering task information into the platform. The next step in the evolution of my JIRA usage will be the automation of my task entry.