Workplace Hack: The Personal Kanban – More Than Just a To-Do List

Staying on top of to-do lists can be a nightmare. We tend to have such a variety of tasks, that consist of several different stages, that keeping track of them all becomes incredibly difficult.

And what about the tasks you’ve completed? Once they’re done, we tend to delete or cross out tasks from our lists, making it difficult to remember what we actually did and how we went about it.

The personal kanban (Japanese for “sign board”) aims to boost efficiency by helping you to visualise your workflow.

To follow this workplace hack you’ll need a whiteboard, notebook or even an office wall. Whatever you use, create three columns: ‘To-Do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’.

As with a normal to-do list, add tasks to the to-do column. Jim Benson of recommends using different coloured pens or post-its to group tasks into categories…

“A lot can be gained from seeing how many colours you have on your board and which are moving fastest.”

Try to limit your “Doing” column to five or less tasks, to avoid leaving tasks open which Benson explains will eat at our mental capacity.

At the end of each day, take a look at your kanban for a detailed overview of how you work. What kind of tasks were you more likely to complete? Which tasks took longer to finish? Are the tasks on your “Done” list the most important or urgent things you had to finish that day?

By analysing your kanban on a daily basis, you should begin to build up a better idea of how you work, and how you can be more efficient on a daily basis.

Have you tried a personal kanban? Share your experiences in the comments below.

This hack is part of a series of weekly workplace hacks that teaches you about collaboration, productivity and time saving tips. Published every Wednesday.


Image: Oliver Tacke