October 13, 2012

How to study for your next exam with Kanban

The best way to plan and execute a project is of course, using Agile. But planning an Agile project, even around the house, is not just about Kanban, it's also about adopting the right way of continuous planning. The GTD (Getting Things Done) approach, and being able to follow through, make conclusions and make changes, based on real life changes.

Let's take studying for exams as an excellent example. 
I still remember the pressure as a student, when you have to prep for several exams together, each one covering a whole semester. I had tons of material to cover – and of course, I was also waiting tables at the time.
It's not easy to study, work, schedule around the exam dates and cover all the material, when you sometimes have to cope with seven exams in a month. In fact, it requires a plan.
As luck would have it, we have this post about Agile to help us plan this out J

1. Create your backlog:

Use continuous planning methods –drill down to the level of detail you need at the righ moment.

” Lets think of the planning process as continuously decomposing a product vision while focusing on those features of greater priority (value) to the business. This decomposition uses just-in-time methods to prevent wasted effort on lower-priority or unneeded features. That is, we expand on features just as much as we need to according to our expectations of when we will build them (this order is determined by the value they provide to the customer).
This plan enables the team to look ahead responsibly so that large-effort activities can be broken down in small enough segments (right-sized work) and balanced against higher priority items that come up. A good release plan provides a clear visual control and obviates the need to look too far ahead and work too far in advance on future, larger features."

For starters, to cover the studying period, list the courses that you'll be taking exams on. Don’t go into detail yet – look at the first column in the chart below. 


Visualize your courses with different colors.

Visualize your exams timeline.
Order your exams according to their set date. 





Tip: Estimate the effort it will take you to study for the exam using our simple sizing technique.
This action will allow you to visualize your ability to complete those building blocks.






















Now that you have your overview, start drilling down into each subject, adding elaboration where needed. Do just what you need, no more. 
(For example, if you were planning a wedding, you'd write down high level tasks (where, when, dress, guest list). You don't start writing down who sites where (or at least, not until you are much closer to the wedding day).)























·         Each course exam is broken down into reasonable study units
·         Some units are broken down further, if required.
·         You don’t have to go into minute detail on all the units – just those you need to at the time. For example, if “Fundamentals of Psychology“ is coming up, I'll break it down into smaller parts, and when I really start studying, I will break it down to even smaller tasks.

Priority level of details settings:  
When you drill down into each exam, decide how detailed you want it to be. Do you really need the details of every sub-subject?














Ready To Go:
These items are what you need to start working on right away, and so have the maximum detail necessary. They have a clear definition of 'done' (For example: pages 1-20 + answer questions 23-56)

Don't add too much detail!
Don't add detail for every task, for every subject, for every exam, right away. When the date approaches – then you can start fleshing things out with more detail.

























Work with small items, meaning make sure ready items are in a level of details that is reasonable to achieve. ‘(a day size item may be enough).

Use sticky notes as a good visualization of what we need to study. It also makes sure that you can quickly change, add and adapt to change. (Agile, remember?)

2. In progress: what we actual studying.
·         Pick up items according to priority.
 Learn one topic at a time and move it along the board.
 Work on one item at a time.

































3. Done
Follow the Definition Of Done. It’s not done till it’s done.



© Example taken from myagile.co.il.
And don’t forget to have fun while doing it J






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