Personal Kanban to Get Things Done-Kanban Zone

Are you like most people who feel pumped and energized when ringing in a new year? A new year usually brings a different kind of energy to start something new or change bad habits. New Years is almost synonymous to – yes you guessed it right – RESOLUTIONS. But how often do we follow through with our resolutions?

Studies have shown that only 25% of people stay committed to their resolutions for 30 days. What’s more surprising is that only 8% of people actually do them. The energy dies down after a month and many don’t follow through with their planned resolutions. But there is a way to turn things around by using Personal Kanban.

The Problem with Resolutions

With a long list of intentions for the new year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Resolutions can also be unrealistic at times because they don’t state HOW you are going to achieve them. We create resolutions like losing weight, travel more, and spend more time with friends and family. We regularly remind ourselves of our good intentions while nothing changes…because resolutions are vague. Sticking yourself with a long list lessens your chances of accomplishing them.

What we need is more granularity in the way we carry out resolutions. We also need a way to see how we’re progressing towards completing them. The process becomes transparent and actually pushes the individual to see things through.

This is exactly what Personal Kanban can help you do.

What is Personal Kanban?

Before understanding what Personal Kanban is, we need to understand what Kanban means. Kanban is a technique for managing work through visual signals and limiting the number of tasks done at one time. It originated from the Japanese car manufacturing industry but is now used in various fields such as software development, medicine, and finance.

Productivity experts Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, wrote the book Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life to introduce the Kanban concept for the personal life. The book’s success sparked the popularity of Personal Kanban. It’s a system to manage your personal and even professional tasks in a way that helps you get more things done. Personal Kanban helps you focus on the things you should be doing at a specific moment. It also controls the amount of work that you take on at one time.

How Personal Kanban Helps You Accomplish More

Personal Kanban operates with two major rules:

  1. Visualize your work
  2. Limit your work in progress

Visualizing your work allows individuals to eliminate overwhelm by breaking down resolutions or goals into actionable tasks. Breaking down your goals shows HOW you are going to work towards achieving them. This makes them more manageable to execute and gives you a clearer picture of what it takes to complete your to-do’s. You also need a tangible medium to visualize your work. A personal kanban board will help you do just that.

Limiting your work in progress means to set a restriction at how many tasks you can do at one time. You might ask, “Why do we need to limit the work when we can multitask?” The concept of multitasking is a myth. What you’re actually doing is task switching. And it’s doing you more harm than good. The thing is, our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. The more you switch tasks, the longer it takes for you to complete a task. Using Personal Kanban trains you to see through a task to completion before taking on any new work.
Personal Kanban requires individuals to set priorities on their tasks. This ensures that whatever they’re working on, is what matters most at a specific time. This also allows you to pick from your list without worrying about the next task.

How to Implement Personal Kanban

Five easy steps to implement Personal Kanban right away:

Step 1: List your goals

What do you want to work on? What are those resolutions that you’ve been listing year-on-year but can’t seem to complete? Write them down in no particular order. Don’t even think about when and how you’re going to execute these goals at this point. Let this be your visioning stage. It’s also important to quantify your goals. Make it measurable so that you can better assess whether you’ve succeeded on it or not.

Step 2: Prioritize your list

  • After you’re done listing your heart out, it’s time to determine what matters most. Here are some tips to help you through prioritizing:
  • Are there items in this list that are time-sensitive?
  • What items will make me feel more fulfilled and happy?
  • Are there items that are relatively easy to execute?
  • Are there items that would require me to coordinate with other people? This means the execution of the task will depend on their availability as well.

Step 3: Identify the action steps for each goal

After you’re done prioritizing your goals, it’s time to picture how you can make them happen. What are the steps and tasks needed to execute each goal? Make sure they are actionable and can be done at a reasonable amount of time. If something is going to take you more than a week to finish, explore how to break down the task further.

Step 4: Put them on your board

To do this, identify what tool you are going to use as your personal kanban board. Some prefer physical tools such as a journal, post its, or a whiteboard. Others are more comfortable using digital tools. This can be in the form of a spreadsheet, a mobile app, OneNote, or an online kanban board like Kanban Zone.

After you’ve identified your weapon of choice, start writing your tasks on cards on your board. Make sure that you follow the priority and sequences identified beforehand.

Step 5: Start pulling tasks from your board

With your personal kanban board ready, you can now start pulling tasks away! Make sure you limit the tasks you take on at one time. A good practice is to focus on one task before moving on to the next. This instills the discipline you need to be successful using your kanban system. This design will help you get closer to achieving all of your goals.

We hope that in 2019 and the years to come, that you can change things up and meet any resolution or goal in mind. With the right mindset, discipline, and a reliable system like Personal Kanban, meeting your goals can be an exciting and rewarding journey that you can take on now.

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About the Author: Lena Boiser

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Lena Boiser is an Agile enthusiast. Starting off her career as a Software Business Analyst in 2010, she eventually performed other roles including Project Manager and IT Business Manager. When she was immersed in Agile methodologies in 2014, Lena found her way through honing her craft and eventually became a Certified Scrum Product Owner. In 2017, after 7 years of working in the corporate world, Lena started her own remote consulting practice. Today, she provides project management and Scrum Product Ownership services to various businesses including software development companies, e-Commerce business owners, and small to medium sized companies. She believes that even teams working remotely can harness the benefits of Agile in order to deliver results for their companies. In her free time she likes to write. One day she could be writing about Agile, the next she could be writing anything about fashion or travel.