Could Personal Kanban Help You Get More Done?

Could Personal Kanban Help You Get More Done?

personal kanban

This is Week 13 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether Personal Kanban could improve my productivity. I used the traditional method of Post-It notes and a dry erase board. Scroll to the end of last week’s post for more details.

How Personal Kanban Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me visualize my work. I’ve learned that I benefit from having an offline picture of my work in as big a format as possible. I decided to use my large vanity mirror for my Backlog color-coded notes. I could scan them and choose the ones I wanted to work on by category. I also discovered that I have a LOT of blog-related tasks.
  • Gave me a reward for completing tasks. It’s a good feeling to move those sticky notes across the board and into the Done column. I was motivated to remove as many sticky notes from my mirror as possible (my teenage son thought I was really weird).
  • Was portable. No, I did not put my dry erase board in my purse. But when I knew I would be at the dentist’s office with my laptop for three hours, I quickly pulled the sticky notes I knew I could work on, added them to a piece of paper, and popped them into my laptop bag.

How Personal Kanban Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Sticky notes not so sticky. I did have to restick them quite often when they fell off the board. It wasn’t a deal breaker. I did read about people who used magnetic cards instead. I would have to have dozens and dozens of magnets!
  • Didn’t limit my work. One of the main reasons I was excited about Kanban (besides visualizing my work) was to force me to limit the amount of work I took on. The problem is there aren’t any limits on the work being fed into the system, only on the tasks being worked concurrently. I’ve discovered that isn’t an issue for me. I don’t tend to flit from thing to thing when I’m actually working on them.
  • Work is never complete. Routines, Do it Tomorrow, and Scheduling tasks all gave me a sense of completion at the end of the day. With Kanban there is a never-ending stream of work coming into the system through Backlog. I started to feel hopeless. Then again, maybe it’s the winter that refuses to end!

Did Personal Kanban Help Me Get More Done?

Yes. For the better part of the week, I was motivated to complete as many tasks as possible. It was when I realized I would never finish them all, that the approach broke down for me.

While I don’t want to continue using Personal Kanban, I see a lot of value in having a visual representation of work. Using it to track projects could be very beneficial. I’ve created forms I use for blogging that use checklists for every phase of a post that remind me of Kanban.

A friend sent me a picture of her Kanban board and thanked me for the idea. In no way would I want to discourage anyone from using an approach that works for them. That’s the point of this series! I’m finding what works for me and hopefully you are, too.

**UPDATE**

Although I do not use Personal Kanban for all my tasks, I use it for writing curriculum. I have a large dry erase board at my desk. I have columns of tasks that have to be completed for each lesson (some of which others on my team have to do). I find it motivates me, organizes me, and gives me great peace of mind. Highly recommended for work that goes through a process.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 14

Brian Tracy

This week I’ll be using Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. 

The concept. Brian Tracy argues that having a written list of tasks to do the next day will increase productivity by 25%. Furthermore, choosing the top 20% of tasks that make the most difference in your day, work, or life allows you to get the most results for your efforts. Brian says that most people do easy tasks to try and “warm up” to the day, in essence wasting valuable time.

Eating a live frog first thing in the morning is the analogy for choosing to do the worst task first. The work may be repulsive to you because it’s a big, time-consuming task or is just something you don’t want to do. But to be a “frog,” it must be the most important thing you could do that day. Once that frog is “eaten,” you can continue to work your list by identifying the next most important task. This way of working is not only supposed to improve your self-control, but will increase productivity by 50%.

I’m one who has really resisted eating the frog first thing. I read this Pick the Brain article by Tom Casano (who also sang the praises of doing the worst first) and realized that I could probably get myself to do this now that I use a 50/10 Pomodoro. If I know I can take a break after 50 minutes to do some fun tasks for 10, I might be able to stomach a frog or two.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read about the basic philosophy of Eat the Frog and watch the short video. Make a list of the next day’s tasks. I’m going to make an electronic list which I then print, but you can use any method you like. I think you could choose your most important tasks the night before, but I prefer to do that in the morning. It’s amazing how different things look overnight! Then eat that frog. I’m going to try and eat the frogs in successive order of importance, but my main goal will be the top frog.

Click here to read how my week of Eat That Frog went.

If you’ve tried Personal Kanban to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

Week 12: The Repeat Test

 

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Could the Repeat Test Help You Get More Done?

Could the Repeat Test Help You Get More Done?

The Repeat Test

This is Week 12 of a Year of Living Productively

This week I tested whether the Repeat Test would improve my productivity. The Hourly Chime iPhone app reminded me to determine if I was happy with how I spent my time in the previous hour. If not, I wrote down what didn’t work next to that hour on a piece of paper. Scroll to the bottom of last week’s post to read more about my planned test.

How The Repeat Test Saved My Sanity This Week

  • Helped me realize that I’m happy with my time management. While I know I have too many commitments, I was surprised that most of the time I felt I was using my time in the right way–even when I was indulging in leisure activities.
  • Helped me to limit time wasters. Knowing that I would have to ask myself if I was using my time in the best way kept me from spending too long online, for example.
  • Enabled me to identify areas for improvement. The only times I wasn’t happy with time usage was when I was doing activities that should have been multi-tasked. For example, while I felt the phone calls I took were valuable, sitting while talking wasn’t. I could have easily gotten some cleaning or laundry chores done and would have felt better about the hour.

How The Repeat Test Made Me Crazy This Week

  • Not a long-term solution. I loved the meekness of the hourly chime and I did remember to consider my time usage. But I can’t see continuing this beyond this week. The motivation won’t be there. However, I think doing this again in the future would be a good idea.
  • Doesn’t consider the long view. I had one occasion where I was happy with my hour, but when I was pressured about a deadline because of how I spent my time, I reconsidered. However, I don’t see any problem with recording time wasters later in the day if you change your mind.

Did The Repeat Test Help Me Get More Done?

Unequivocally, yes. I found it to be one of the more pleasant weeks, because the overhead of the method was low and the metric makes the most sense. Who cares if you get lots of tasks done if you aren’t happy that you did them? Of course, I can see potential problems with people who are happy with how they’re spending their time, but their colleagues and families are ready to wring their necks! The thing is, I doubt this irresponsible type would use this test anyway.

**UPDATE**

While I haven’t used the Repeat Test specifically, I believe the 5 Minute Journal app and the scheduling method I use on Skedpal serve the same purpose. I am always asking myself if I am using my time in the best possible way. I think the Repeat Test is an excellent analog solution for procrastination.

The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 13

personal kanban

This week I’ll be using Personal Kanban. I’ll be using a small dry erase board I purchased at Target and small Post It notes.

The concept. Personal Kanban is a means of visualizing and limiting your work using Post It notes and a dry erase board. It’s been used successfully in the workplace for teams, but is useful for personal productivity as well. The labels of the columns vary depending on your work, but at minimum there should be a place (even off the dry erase board) for backlog tasks. There is a column for work that is ready to be done or that you are wanting to work on soon. The Doing column is for active tasks. This is where limits are required. I will be working with a limit of 3. In other words, if I have three tasks I’m working on and find yet another I want to do, to be true to the method, I would have to complete one of the tasks, moving it to the Done column. I can’t wait to use this as an excuse when my family wants me to do something for them. 😉 Although the idea is that everything you do be included in the system, so you see all the work you have in progress, I won’t be dismantling my routines or taking the time to add them to the board. I will, however, use different colored notes for the major areas of work I have.

If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Read about the basic philosophy of Personal Kanban. Decide what you will use to track your tasks. Doors, walls, windows, and file folders (putting the Doing and Done columns on the bottom of the file folder) are all options. This online Personal Kanban has a free trial. Decide which columns to use. I’m adding a couple. I have a Today column and a Pen column for tasks that can’t progress because I’m waiting on someone or something. Decide how many tasks you’ll allow to be in Doing at a time. Add your tasks to the backlog. For a week of testing, I’m only including tasks that I want to complete in the coming week. I’ll be adding more as they come up. Work your tasks through to being done. If you want more inspiration, read this series of blog posts about using Personal Kanban.

Click here to see how my week of testing Personal Kanban went.

If you’ve tried The Repeat Test to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.

Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:

A Year of Living Productively

Week 1: Paper To-Do List

Week 2: Covey’s Quadrants

Week 3: Routines

Week 4: Paper Planner

Week 5: SMEMA

Week 6: Guilt Hour

Week 7: Envision Ideal Day

Week 8: Do it Tomorrow

Week 9: Pomodoro

Week 10: Time Warrior

Week 11: Scheduling

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