Chips

We wanted an easy way to track where each of us was spending our time each day.  We have a couple products which we could be working on any day, and also general General and Administrative (G&A) tasks like interviewing, buying office supplies or meeting with realtors to look at new office space.

We decided on a simple system we’re calling Chips.  The basic concept is every day you get four chips.  At the end of each day you allocate these chips towards one or more of the buckets of work .  Then I tally up everyone’s chip count in an Excel spreadsheet with built in tallies and rollups. 

Example: say I spent half my day working on our Mother product (that’s the internal name for our tariff collection product).  Then I spend a couple hours working on Brother (our consumer facing site whatsmypower.com) and an hour looking at resumes.  My chip count would be:

  • 2 chips Mother
  • 1 chip Brother
  • 1 chip G&A

It’s an approximation and certainly not a scientific measurement but it works.  Even though I probably spent more than 4x of time on Mother vs G&A, I still log them as 2 and 1 and then the next day if I have the same distribution, I may just put 3 to Mother and 0 to G&A.

In our first month of doing this, we were surprised to see how much time we had put towards G&A, which was a lot of time posting jobs and interviewing candidates.

And for the implementation of Chips, we use a Mancala board.  It’s already got buckets which we label with each bucket of work we want to track.  And each person gets their own color chips and they distribute this within the appropriate buckets at the end of each workday.

Mancala comes with four different color chips, so once we expanded to five people, the new hires started using pennies and quarters as their chips.

It’s a lightweight process that adds ten seconds a day and gives a good insight into how the team is spending their time.  If you try it out, let me know how it goes.

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