Personal Kanban for higher productivity

Every now and then, considerable events occur with and around us. We can either take notice and think about these or keep our concentration to the results of higher value.

This is the detailed version of the most famous blog post in the past few months.

On Sep 14, 2012 - while wrapping up this particular week on  a Friday evening (as captured in the photo - look carefully :)), I realized that drinking a glass of milk will give me the required nutritious value. Before placing it on the desk - it was imperative to think about the positioning of the glass on my personal kanban.

For the past few months - I have been asked by numerous colleagues and friends on how I manage my backlog and bring this technique to the personal level.

Fortunately, my 'Today's Backlog' has been completed and the last activity is in progress.

For the benefit of everyone - here it goes:

On any given work day, before even checking the email - I look at the prioritized backlog, and then embark on the activities of the highest value for that day (while keeping both long and short term results in perspective).

Activities/ tasks/ actions items were moved to the 'Today's Backlog' column as the last step before concluding any given day (today's list was completed yesterday). This ensures that the next morning - the items are ready and waiting for me at the most productive part of my day (first thing in the morning).

The following five columns are the standard swim lanes:
  • Backlog
  • Prioritized Backlog
  • Today's Backlog
  • In Progress
  • Complete

The first item in the 'Today's backlog' column is picked up and moved into 'In Progress'. Then it is worked on with a focus on only one activity - known as  'Work in Progress'. Upon its completion the item is moved to 'Complete' column. The cycle continues till we exhaust the whole backlog for the day.

How do I handle interruptions or distractions throughout the day?
It is inevitable that interruptions kick-in. I have to pause on an activity that is currently in progress. The challenge at that point is only the personal discipline of relatively prioritizing the interruption at hand.

In simple terms - if the item in progress is of higher priority then the interruption goes into 'Today's Backlog" according to its relative priority within the log. Otherwise - the current activity gets paused and is put back into the log at the top.

The final step in this sprint process is to negotiate lower priority work out of today's log and ensure that we do not stress ourselves by trying to complete everything - everyday. Interruptions ensure that I keep an eye on the higher priority work and to understand that some piece of work is bound to be pushed out of today's bandwidth.

In the midst of explaining how a personal kanban works for me - a healthy snack is not an interruption :).
The next item is to enjoy the rest of the glass of milk (this time not from my in progress column :)).

I consider this as a personalized gift. Now it is up to you to take it as a story or try it in your personal and/ or professional life.

Don't forget to share your feedback.

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Thank you very much for the insights and suggestions.

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