I was inspired today by a post on Rachel Davies’ blog to write something that has been brewing in my mind for some time. So today I want to share with you the concept of commitment debt.
Towards the end of 2010, I tried mapping my own projects, work, social, personal etc, and fitting them onto a Kanban board. (If you don’t know what a Kanban board is, its not that important right now, you just need to know that its a way of visualising your current workload, so that you can see and visualise what unnecessary work you are doing. You can read more about using Kanban for personal productivity here)
What I discovered shocked me! The number of simultaneous things I had going on at once was about 25, and I was still accepting more!
I was in commitment debt!
I had taken on far more commitments than I was able to deliver. Just like financial or technical debt, it was slowing me down, preventing me from being able to choose what to do. It was even starting to get me down.
I had to go though each project, and work out which ones I could just cancel, on the spot, which ones I could postpose, which ones I was totally committed to and could not get out of.
Then for several months, I picked a project each week, and focused my spare time on it, and slowly starting to bring them to completion.
I then had to do the same to several projects that I had been able to postpose, but could not get out of.
Finally I was able to look at the projects I had been able to cancel. Most of them were no longer relevant. Some where never even a good idea in the first place! I can only assume I was taking them on to procrastinate on the commitments I already had!
So just like financial debt. I had to prioritise and start to repay the most serious debts first.
Is this something you have experience yourself, or seen in others? Have you found any good techniques for getting out of this problem, or spotting it before it becomes too serious? Let me know in the comments below