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How to Use a Personal Kanban for Time Management and Productivity



How to Use a Personal Kanban for Time Management and Productivity

There’s no feeling better than finishing our daily tasks or achieving a goal. In the end, we’re left with a feeling of accomplishment and this makes our free time even more enjoyable.

So, why do we struggle with meeting our goals? Part of the reason is a lack of organization. Which is why using a personal Kanban board can be an effective way to manage your tasks.

The Kanban system became popular when Toyota improved its productivity with Kanban boards. Industrial engineer Taiichi Ōno developed a system of using paper cards to track demand for parts and to signal when new parts are needed. This enabled Toyota to store the exact number of parts needed but also never run out because the system would show them when to order more parts.

The word Kanban means signboard. It’s a visual cue that tells you what you need to do, whether you’re progressing, and to track the goals that are done.

The Kanban system has been widely adopted in business practices. Today, platforms like Trello and Asana offer Kanban-like features that help employees manage multiple tasks. But you can use this system for your own personal goals.

Want to know how to do that? Here’s a helpful breakdown of using the Kanban system for personal productivity.


Choose your tools

Today, you can opt for digital or physical platforms to create your own personal Kanban. Trello, Notion, and other platforms will let you create a board for free. The advantage is that you can carry this around anywhere by using their applications on your phone.

However, you may also choose to create a physical Kanban system in your home or workspace by using a board and some sticky notes.

A physical Kanban board can feel more motivating and satisfying because you’re personally working on one with your hands. There’s a tactile element to it that a digital version lacks. However, the disadvantage is that you can’t carry it with you to other places.


Map the Kanban process

Creating your task process is simple. Create a digital or physical board and create three columns. Label each column as follows: To-Do, Doing, and Done.

Start by adding all the things you need to do in your To-Do list. You can use colorful sticky notes for your real board. If you’re working with an online version, then simply add a new task under the To-Do column on your digital Kanban.

When you’re working on a task, move the To-Do note to the Doing column. This is your Work-In-Progress (WIP). Once you’ve completed a task in the Doing column, move it to the Done section. It’s so easy!

As you can imagine, this is also a great tool for children. There are so many applications for this type of organizational system. You can use colorful notes and of course, you can change the columns’ titles to suit your own particular needs.


Watch your WIP list

A Kanban board is more powerful than a simple to-do list because you can see the progression in the work you’re doing. However, a crucial point is to keep your WIP tasks to a minimum.

Most people feel stressed and unproductive because they are often multi-task. Multi-tasking is not efficient because you’re shifting your focus from one activity to the next. This scattered approach reduces the quality of your work and leads to anxiety.

Single-tasking, AKA focusing on a single task at a time, conserves energy. You’re putting your full attention on one job and creating your best work, which leads to greater satisfaction.

Avoid adding more than two or three things to your WIP list. It’s best if you keep the number of things you’re just doing to one. Does the thought bother you? Maybe you think you’ll do better if you juggle several tasks at once?

Try focusing on a single task at a time and use the Kanban board to help you visualize where you are. I guarantee you that you’ll soon wonder why you did it any other way.



Why adopt a Kanban system when you can use a simple To-Do list? If the success of a business like Toyota is any indication, a Kanban board is simply more efficient.

You avoid tackling too many tasks at once, you have a clear visual system to organize your life, and you can focus on a single job and do it well.

It’s a reliable system that resembles the flow of work in life in a realistic way. Use it to improve your productivity and achieve anything you want, whether it’s to grow a business, learn new skills, or organize your home.

Syed Balkhi is an award-winning entrepreneur and co-founder of OptinMonster, a powerful conversion optimization software. He is also the founder of Awesome Motive the company behind several popular small business software that collectively power over 3 million websites and serves billions of page views every month.