The concept of writing down important tasks and organizing them into easily comprehensible lists is not a new one.
People have always been coming up with innovative ways to manage their day to day tasks and using them to organize their workflows. Before the technological revolution, people used resources in the Analog world to design such solutions. Hence, there are many personal Kanban board examples that exist in the real world. Let’s take a look at how you can make your own.
Setting up your first Personal Kanban board
Here’s how you can build the most basic Personal Kanban board with very little resources such as a pad of sticky notes, a board and some motivation to manage your work and life better!
1. On a pad of sticky notes, write down the things you need to do. One sticky note should contain a single clear task, for example: Review documents, Attend sales meeting etc.
2. Along the way, you will run into large projects and goals that will require a subset of tasks. Break these bigger goals down into smaller work items – dedicating one sticky note to each. For example, if you are planning a business trip your work items may consist of: Book Flights, Make hotel Bookings, Attend Meetings, Hire transport services and much more. These small tasks can further break down into more granular tasks such as attending meetings can be broken down into scheduling the meeting and establishing talking points.
3. You may also start using different coloured cards to represent different natures of responsibilities and give your board more structure.
4. Once you have a set of goals written down, set up a poster board, white board or any large sheet of paper. Make three columns named: To Do, Doing and Done.
5. Now is the time to decide what goes where. This may require some deliberation, so don’t get demotivated yet! Start off by deciding your Work in Progress (WIP) limit. It is generally good practice to begin with two or three cards at a time and adjust according to your capacity. A small and manageable WIP limit usually helps you get more done. However, since each task may vary in duration, you can adjust your WIP accordingly. Set a time estimate for each task and add their times to see where you stand.
6. Now you can stick your boards in the to do column in order of priority, placing the most important ones at the very top.
7. Move some of the notes you wish to do into the Doing column and start working!
8. After finishing each task, move the note to the Done column and replace that with another note from your To-do list.
9. Repeat this process all over again and smoothly manage your day to day activities.
As you may have noticed, this Personal Kanban approach is quite natural and not much different from how you may have been scheduling and managing work so far. As simple as this approach may be, it reflects the two very crucial principles namely Visibility of work and Focus on finish. The sticky notes provide full visibility and an at-a-glance overview of your work while having it all laid out in front of you will help focus on a given task and bring it to completion.
In the practical world however, the personal Kanban takes on many forms. For more complex work organization structures which involve multiple teams and employees, it takes the form of a shop floor management system. However, the core mechanism and principles remain the same – high visibility of work with a clear view of current task and progress – all visually arranged in a neat package for your perusal.