Sunday, October 28, 2012

Personal kanban for getting a grip on overwhelm

I love post-it notes because they allow me maximum flexibility to move my “to-dos” around without the confines of linearity. I can stick them in my pocket. Paste them around my desk or on my door as constant reminders of what I have to do or should remember. They reduce my mind overload and give me the illusion that I am organized and progressing.

However, they too can become oppressive once the post-its reach epic proportions and are scattered everywhere. Most discouraging are aged post-its that never seem to go away.

I tried giving up on the post-its by using a single focus booklet entitled “To-Dos” organized by level of priority and life/work category. I also experimented with using post-its and notes on Outlook. But my organizational framework wasn’t workable – still not enough sense of progress and that which was realistic to accomplish.

So, when I came across Jim Benson’s “personal kanban” idea for work flow which included post-its and relative simplicity, I was intrigued. Taking a page out of Japanese manufacturing, Kanban, meaning “sign card”, tells me what is doable within a given time-frame.

Here’s how it works:

Ready (my options): the tasks, each on a post-it, of what I want to do

Doing (my limit): the tasks I believe I can accomplish in a day

Done (my progress): a dynamic list of work completed

There are more rewards for my brain with this work flow process because I physically move post-its along the continuum. I certainly derive some satisfaction the other ways too – throwing or crossing out!

Scaled up, it’s a great tool for teams grappling with those projects that never give enough satisfaction while the journey unfolds.

Check out the “I Love Lucy” clip in the article by David Zax on Benson’s method. It is hilarious!