Kanban is a Japanese word that means “signboard”. It is a system for visually organising and tracking tasks or projects. This article describes how you can use kanban to improve your personal productivity .
Kanban allows you to:
· Manage tasks more effectively by identifying, visualising and limiting work in progress.
· See what’s on your plate at any given time.
· Break down complex projects into manageable components.
. Quickly identify and implement strategies to increase efficiency.
Kanban methodology allows you to visualise, analyse and prioritise all of your work in one simple workspace. Kanban’s visual approach provides a bird’s eye view of everything on your plate enabling you to more effectively manage tasks.
The most important principle is limiting the amount of work in progress so as not to overload yourself or those who will help you complete the task. This applies both at home and at work: limit the number of projects and tasks that you can simultaneously handle.
Start by identifying what kinds of activities take place regularly in each area of your life (work/home). Then identify how many hours per week can be devoted to these activities before they become overwhelming (e.g. 4 hours/week for maintenance tasks; 10 hours/week for projects). After allocating time, start listing the activities by priority and determine how many items can be done in a 3-4 hour session (or all at once if it takes less than three hours).
Goals should be limited to one per area of life. To avoid burdening yourself, revisit your goals frequently and make sure they are still important. If you find that a goal is no longer valuable, redefine or relinquish it: “I’d like to lose weight but I’m not going to kill myself doing daily exercise just so I can fit into my old jeans”.
Remember that we often fail because we attempt too much. Cultivating simplicity enables focus on what matters most. For more information on setting goals, please visit my Goals page .
To let the world know of your plans, update your status on Facebook or tweet it to your followers. Send an email to a friend or significant other who can hold you accountable to completing it. Plant reminders in unexpected places where they are likely to be seen when you are near them (I keep reminder notes with me so I see them when I check the time on my phone). Tell yourself that if you don’t do this today then tomorrow will be too late.
Repeatedly think about how good it will feel once the task is completed and allow this feeling to inspire action throughout the day. This is an adaptation of Abraham Maslow’s “peak experience” concept. Maslow theorised that all people have an innate desire to reach the highest point of their potential at some time in their lives. Achievement of this state is called a peak experience, which involves feelings of elation and excitement along with feelings of great fulfilment. The more you can imagine what it will feel like once your task is complete , the more likely you are to complete it. Daydream about how good it will feel when you are done with certain parts of your project or with the whole thing altogether .
Zoom out by thinking big picture thoughts about the future, then refocus on small steps that lead to that end-goal. This is another adaptation from Abraham Maslow’s writing regarding peak experience theory. He suggests that when you’re nearing a peak experience, try to zoom out and think about the bigger picture. If you’re focused on getting your paper done for school , think about what that means in the big scheme of things: graduation, college applications, etc.
Try a “sprint” method where you set aside a short amount of time (15-30 minutes) to work intensely on your task until completion . Then take a break. In other words , do this:
Work hard – rest hard – repeat until the goal is complete . You can either cherry pick 15-30 minute chunks from all throughout the day or plan out specific chunks where you know you have blocks of time available to work.
Further reading: Clutter Reduction, 18 Minutes : Efficient Productivity in 1 Hour Blocks How to Get More Done in Less Time
If you “need a break” from your homework / task at hand , try doing something else for a few minutes before diving back in. This is a good strategy if the paper writing process is dragging on and on with no end in sight or if you find yourself getting lost re-reading the same paragraph over and over again . Additionally, if it’s been more than 30 minutes since you started working on your assignment, take a 5 minute break . Go get some fresh air or grab a snack. In this way , breaks are productive – they help us fatigue and maintain focus through sheer willpower for longer periods of time. Break Schedules How They Affect Performance and Mood in Children and Adults
If you’re having trouble concentrating on a certain task, try doing another activity while working to build focus . For example , if you keep spacing out while writing a paper , listen to some music or find a music video that matches what you’re writing about . You can also break up the work by alternating between other tasks; for instance, write your conclusion first and then use it as motivation to get through your rough draft.