Kanban For Procrastinators 1 1 Scaled

Productivity management can be very difficult, especially for procrastinators. In fact, around 20% of adults have struggled with procrastination at least once in their life. Even the highly motivated, highly successful ones face it. Putting of a task one time or another, as if this behavior can make the tasks go away (or magically complete itself). The painful truth is that procrastination makes us lose time in an unprecedented way. Trust me – I know from personal experience.

Opting in for last-minute productivity has some positive sides though. Since procrastinators tend to do things later, there is a huge chance they will know exactly what to do and how to do it. And because of their specific approach to productivity management – doing things at the moment they absolutely have to – they tend to find the easiest and fastest solutions to most problems. Therefore, when they actually work and complete their tasks, they do so in bursts of energy, intense concentration and brilliant efficiency.

Even though procrastination may seem harmless and positive, always going for a delay instead of working here and now hurts our productivity. So why do we keep procrastinating? The reasons can be different. From being a perfectionists and magnifying the importance of mistakes and failure so much that some people avoid a tasks completely. To having a lack of information and not knowing where to begin. Or choosing small tasks and feeling busy and putting off larger, more important tasks. To losing focus because of phone calls and emails, or simply lacking motivation.

Most commonly though, it’s due to having a bad time management and productivity management – believing you have more than enough time to complete the tasks. Speaking from personal experience, again, and the experience of fellow procrastinators.

Luckily, getting out of that last-minute-productivity loop and making a change is possible. All you need are the will and perseverance. Choosing and implementing the right tool and the support from your team are also of great help. So let’s dive in, and for starters, get you to consider the benefits of first-minute productivity.

Using Kanban to Fight Procrastination

Many people wonder whether using a specific project management tool can actually mend their productivity management. Well, it can. No matter how intangible it may seem, using a specific methodology and its tools can greatly change the way you think and feel about completing your tasks. Furthermore, it can help you be more organized and responsible towards completing the work you signed up for.

One such methodology that can change the way you approach task completion is Kanban. Kanban is a methodology that uses visualization and WIP limits as two main components to drive productivity. But let me break it down and explain to you how to use Kanban to fight procrastination.

Portfolio Kanban - Reduce Overburden - Improve Flow

Get a Clear Picture of The Work Ahead of You

The Kanban implementation begins with visualization of the whole workflow onto a Kanban board. Take your process and create a column for each stage. This will help you get a better overview of how tasks flow and how they are related to one another.

After you visualize the workflow, the next step is creating Kanban cards for all tasks. Fill in the backlog and distribute work in progress in the respective columns. Take the bigger tasks and divide them into smaller chunks. Then assign them to the right people. Smaller tasks move faster along the Kanban board so you’ll feel you are constantly accomplishing something.  And the project won’t feel so overwhelming.

These are the first steps to setting an effective productivity management system in place. Once you have all the work laid out, it will be easier to organize it. And that will free you (and the team) from having to remember what you need to do next.

Reduce Multitasking and Limit Distractions

When you place the whole process and tasks in progress on a Kanban board and display the board publicly, everyone will become more aware and feel more responsible. However, if you want to effectively reduce the number of distractions and minimize the opportunity for multitasking, you need to add an important dimension to your Kanban board – WIP (work in progress) limits.

The WIP limits on your Kanban board limit the number of tasks you can take from the backlog. They are crucial for achieving a state of finishing tasks, instead of constantly starting new ones. Additionally, the social approval and social rewards related to finishing your work on time and contributing to a job well done are so motivating, that they can even surpass the importance of financial rewards and motivation. As a result, team members are “forced” to work on one task at a time, thus they stay more focused and are more productive.

Divide and Conquer

You can work excellent under pressure. You’ve proven that during your time as a procrastinator. But, you are not almighty. And there is no need to do everything by yourself when you are a part of a team. There is always someone in your team who knows the best solution to your problem. So why not ask for help and save yourself some time.

Teamwork is part of Kanban’s philosophy, but so is delegation. Carefully track how tasks are divided and assigned and if you notice there’s an imbalance, speak out. Everyone should be assigned as much work as they can complete, and tasks they are qualified to work on. Regularly communicate with your team to ensure no one is overworked, underworked, or tasked with work outside the scope of their abilities. Proper work distribution is crucial for establishing an effective productivity management system.

Productivity Management Begins with You

The truth is, no tool or methodology you choose will magically change the way you approach your work unless you actually want to use it and stick to its practices and principles. As difficult as it may be to change existing habits, it is possible. Once you set your mind on it, you can change the way you do things. By actually giving a productivity management system a try, and having the discipline to use it regularly until it becomes your new normal.

While using Kanban to visualize your incoming work may seem counter-intuitive when dealing with procrastination, trust me, it is not. Understanding the big picture, realizing where you stand and how significant your role is, can actually increase your willingness to get the ball rolling. When the whole team’s work is displayed on the board, accountability increases. People are motivated to finish their tasks faster, so procrastination reduces. And you slowly move from last-minute to first-minute productivity.

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Once you start visualizing your work in Kanban Zone, you will be surprised how much faster it gets done!

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About the Author: Ivana Sarandeska

Ivana Sarandeska is a digital marketer, creative writer and master procrastinator. An Agile enthusiast and a firm believer that thorough planning is key to good execution and even better improvisation. She has a soft spot for technology, so most of her full-time jobs were in IT companies where she was introduced to Agile and Scrum. After she got her Scrum Basics certification she started actively using these methodologies and their main principles. Learning how to organize her time and tasks better has motivated her to dive deeper into these methodologies. Now, she is an avid advocate of Agile and Scrum and happily shares her knowledge and experience to fellow procrastinators.