I’ve had a number of lovely folk check in with me recently to ask how I’m going with managing a full time job, running a growing photography business on the side, and planning my own wedding. And did I mention I’ve starting personal training three nights a week? I’m clearly crazy!!
So I thought to share my experience with wedding planning at least. Now I must admit, I totally underestimated how much was involved with planning a wedding. Particularly when you hire a private venue and have to bring everything in. Caterers, tables and chairs etc. I’ve found myself having to think about things like who is supplying ice to keep the drinks cool. Things I’ve never aspired to think about.
My interactions with my couples as their photographer has always felt pretty straight forward (and fun) but it has been a fabulous learning experience (as well as a reminder) for what it’s like to be on the other end of the stick!
I’m a visual person (surprise, surprise) so what I found worked for me after a bit of trial and error was a Storywall which is something I’m well acquainted with in my job in HR Consulting. You can see mine below.
A storywall is a combination of agile (a project management methodology originating from software development) and lean (continuous improvement) principles and techniques, but this particular version is not purist by any stretch of the imagination. The intent is to make things visual and transparent (so I’m not worrying about what I’ve forgotten to do). Mine happens to live on the wardrobe doors of our study.
How it works
- There is a card for every task that needs to be done which is colour coded to align to a stream (it’s not to clear in the picture, but my streams are ‘infrastructure’: venue, catering etc., ‘the a-team’: photographer, videographer, celebrant etc., ‘design’: largely decorations, ‘bits and pieces’: wedding rings, favours etc., ‘honeymoon’: pretty straightforward, and ‘Kate and Dan’: anything relating to us like the wedding dress (clearly me). My streams are in the very first column.
- I work in two week iterations which means tasks are allocated into a two week period in which I need to start or complete them. Cards that I’m working on for that two weeks (which are things that need to be done) go into the ‘Backlog’ column which is the second column in the photo. Any other cards or tasks not being worked on in that two week period sit under the storywall in a column called Future Iterations (not in the picture) and are waiting to be prioritised.
- The ‘1’,’2’, and ‘3’ columns are for the top 3 things on my list of things to do. The principal here is that you can only focus on three things at a time. (You’ll notice I’m currently cheating and have five cards in progress – I’d like to say that the two extra cards are Dan’s but they’re currently not. Hint hint Dan!).
- The 6th column across is called ‘Dependencies’ – this is a column for cards I’ve started, but where the next step is dependant on or sitting with someone else. You’ll notice a card called ‘Video: meet and greet’ which is there as I’ve sent a note to our videographers suggesting we organise a time to catch up before the wedding day. It’s sitting in the dependencies column as I’m waiting on them to get back to me. This column is particularly important to my sanity! You can strike your cards each day so you know how long it’s been sitting with someone else as a visual cue for when to follow up or when it should be escalated further but I haven’t gone to that extent here.
- The final column is called ‘Done’ which is pretty self explanatory. There is a celebration dance when you move things into this column which, when Dan and I are there, is a two person Mexican wave. When it’s just me, it’s whatever dance move I can think of!
The key principal around how it flows is around Kanban and visual cues. I shouldn’t pull a card into my top three priorities until one of the cards in one of those columns moves to either the ‘dependencies’ column or the ‘done’ column. Ensuring I’m only ever focusing on three things provides sustainable pace (I’m not trying to do too many things at once) and is particularly good for my stress levels! Because it’s visual, I know where everything is at, at any point in time.
The intent is at the end of the iteration (the two weeks) the cards should all be done and I’ll prioritise what needs to happen over the next two weeks, move those cards into backlog and the excitement starts all over again.
I’m sure it seems a bit complicated but it’s actually really easy once you get started,
Now this is a really simplistic version of how a wall works! There is a whole other level of factors such as the sizing of cards (how much effort does it require) to determine whether it can be achieved in a two week period but that’s definitely a story for another day.
Do you do something different which works for you? I’d love to hear so please share!