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Implementing Personal Kanban

by Jimmy Sjölund

Should you be one of the people whose idea of Kanban associates it only with software development or cars production, please know you're not alone. Until some time ago, Jimmy Sjölund of Basefarm, a leader in hosting providing, had thought so too. As soon as he had discovered multiple books on Personal Kanban – an application of this management method to a person's life or individual work, he was more than happy to try it.

Personal Kanban

The book by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry had inspired him to introduce simple Kanban boards to his work and private life. He had created a few boards to replace his to-do lists and mind maps. He quickly realized that the best type of a board for him is an electronic board, one that can be managed online, therefore accessible at all times during the day, wherever he is. A simple board consists of just 3 columns: a backlog – doing (WIP) – done. For a beginner this is quite enough. As you get more into it, you'll find ways in which to extend and improve this.

Work in progress limits

This is the crucial part of doing Kanban. Without this, you're simply using a task board, not doing Kanban. The problem many of us face is trying (or having to) do many things at once, which - more often than not - results with doing some things poorly and not completing others at all. The WIP limits idea is to specify how many things can go on at any time, therefore increasing your focus and facilitating higher productivity.

Pulling

According to both Jimmy and Kanban experts, the best way to keep the priorities in line is placing the most important tasks at the top of the backlog column. Coupled with regular backlog management (adding new tasks, re-prioritizing), this shall ensure completing (not just starting) the most important jobs first. When the board is ready to use, with WIP limits established, all you need to do is start pulling tasks into the working column. Meaning, that as soon as one task is done, you can choose another and pull it into the Doing column. Only when this one is completed, are you allowed to take more in.

Evaluate - reflect - improve

Once you had been working with Kanban boards for a while, it's highly recommended to look back and review the way it went. Seeing what works and what doesn't work on your board, if any process stages need to be added or if the WIP limits need to be altered. Doing this will ensure that you're giving yourself a chance to achieve the Kanban characteristic continuous improvement (Kaizen). Jimmy had applied Kanban to many areas of his work and private life, and praises it immensely. Feel like giving Personal Kanban a go yourself?


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