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Even though we should be completely in control of it, personal productivity can be one of the toughest professional challenges many people face. Whether it’s getting work done how you want in the time you’re supposed to or reaching personal goals which go beyond simply putting your regular shift in, your personal productivity affects how you feel about yourself and also how other stakeholders (i.e., your boss, clients, colleagues) view your professional progression.

Not only that, but pushing yourself too hard in certain directions can also lead to burnout, an incessant focus on the same factors creating a difficult-to-escape loop of becoming stressed because of not getting things done as you want because of stress.

Personal Kanban: A Personal Productivity Solution

There are various methods that people use to manage, measure and improve their productivity, but one of the most popular is the use of a personal Kanban board to plan and track one’s work.

Kanban was originally developed as supply and production methodology for the auto giant Toyota in Japan, but today can be defined by its most notable features, the use of simple cards and columns to visualize work.

The authors of the book, Personal Kanban, Jim Benson and Tonianne Barry, suggest that there are only two rules with Personal Kanban:

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

However, what that means in practice still takes a bit of iteration to find what works best for you. To give an example, we’ll take a look at what a common Kanban board looks like. There should be at least three columns (though anything up to six can work without getting too complicated), which can be drawn up on a whiteboard or flowchart. These could be:

To Do   Doing Done

The titles should always be simple and self-explanatory; the goal isn’t to spend as much time defining labels as you do on actual tasks. The next step is to create cards, which give a simple expression of a task (these can be simple post-it notes). The cards should stick to uniform and simple language, for example, using an action verb and a noun, e.g. ‘write new blog’ or ‘summarize interview notes’

The cards are placed on the board in the relevant column, which gives you a visualization of what needs to be focused on right now, what’s next in the pipeline and what has been achieved. A core concept of Personal Kanban is to “limit work in progress,” which means keeping as few cards on your ‘Doing’ column as possible. Though some might say that’s impossible as they have so much going on, Benson and Barry say that’s the point, prioritizing is most effective when it’s limited to one or two tasks and anything more is a distraction.

Acknowledge Complete Work with Kanban

As you become more proficient with how the system works, you can adapt the Kanban board to suit the specific details of your work. Kanban also gives the gratification of recognition at the point where you move a card from ‘Doing’ to ‘Done’, which might not seem like a major event but it’s important to acknowledge work we’ve completed, even if it’s from ourselves and just for a few seconds.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

As masters of improving productivity, either on an organizational or a personal scale, Clarizen is delighted to be able to offer our users a customizable Kanban mode within Clarizen Go. Having an online tool to support your process means you can bring your personal Kanban board everywhere and always be focused on your productivity. Talk to our team today to find out more about how Clarizen can make Kanban work for you.

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