Personal Kanban

A few weeks ago I attended http://skillsmatter.com/podcast/agile-scrum/john-stevenson-kanban-for-just-in-time-training by @JR0cket. He explained how he was using an online Kanban board to manage his own personal studying. Most interesting I found his done state definition; “Blogged”. The idea is that given a reasonable WIP limit, before you can start a new pet project or read a new book, you have to blog about the task you just finished. And that is exactly what I am doing now:

Using the iKan app on my iPhone, my Study Kanban board looks like this (WIP limits in brackets):

Backlog (4) -> Studying (2) -> Write blog post (2) -> Blogged / Done.

Already, this has forced me to focus on just a few topics at a time. Hopefully I will be disciplined enough to try to always write a blog post before moving anything into the Done state. As John mentioned; you force yourself to study a bit harder when you know you have to write a blog post about it later.

If I remember correctly, John had at least two Kanban boards for more or less different processes. I have gone down that road myself as well, with the following additional “Personal Economy etc.” Kanban board:

Ready (5) -> Doing (2) -> Done

I am currently reflecting on the concept of having several Kanban boards. The WIP limits are not very effective if I can get around them just by adding a new board. However, the two processes are significantly different. I am pretty sure people don’t want me to blog about my Tax returns etc. Perhaps having a shared backlog or similar could be useful.

Imagine the following scenario: I want to add a new book to my study backlog, but because it is full I have to finish another task first. If I had a shared backlog between my study and personal stuff, this could force me to prioritize and get started with some boring chores and actually get them done. I guess the only thing stopping me from trying this is my current tool set. Once again it seems a physical board could be the simplest solution. To be continued..

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4 Responses to “Personal Kanban”

  1. Jim Benson Says:

    Erling,

    One of the posts I’m delinquent on for personalkanban.com deals precisely with the need to have multiple value streams on one board. A few weeks ago, I was helping a friend in San Francisco get her work / life / aspirations all onto one board coherently.

    She has facebook grouped it here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?pid=3735421&id=260566503323

    She was training for a triathalon, working in San Francisco, teaching in San Jose, studying for a professional certification and has a teenage son. Needless to say, she has some very different value streams.

    You might want to check out her site and I will endeavor to get that post up this week.

    Also, thanks for trying the iKan app!

    Jim

    • erlingwl Says:

      Jim,

      Thanks for your comment and link. I am really looking forward to read the blog post you mention.

      I think the iKan app is a great concept btw.

      Cheers,
      Erling

  2. pwiger Says:

    Excellent Erling! Blogged; Just the state I needed, thanks a bunch! I’ve always had it in mind I should start blogging my (important/interesting) tasks, but making it an explicit step really makes sense. That said, I don’t have a Kanban system in place… Maybe I should get one. Looks like good fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for sharing. …and good luck with your tax returns ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • erlingwl Says:

      Thanks Pรคr ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am curious about how my personal Kanban will evolve over time, and if I will be disciplined enough to stick with it. But based on my short experience I would definitely recommend trying it. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to get started ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers,
      Erling

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