Personal Kanban and Iterations, Day 1

JR Personal Kanban Day 1I use a form of personal kanban inside one-week iterations to finish my work and notice what I am not doing. I do this to maintain a cadence of blogging and to finish work. Did you notice that word, finish?

Sidebar: For those of you who don’t know what “kanban” is, it literally means “card.” It’s been used in manufacturing for years as a pull system for work. I have an example for what a kanban system might look like for teams in Agile Lifecycles for Geographically Distributed Teams, Part 3. I just realized I don’t have a picture of a personal kanban on Hiring Technical People. I will have to fix that.

I’m human, the same as you. I get bogged down. I sometimes get freaked out by the amount of work I have to complete. And, this week and next, as I complete my preparations for my London workshops and Let’s Test, I have more than I originally expected to do.

Why? Before PSL, several local potential clients called and wanted meetings. Meetings! Not phone calls, but in-person meetings.

The problem with in-person meetings is that they take longer. They aren’t one hour long. They are close to two hours long. I have to leave enough time to get there, have the meeting and get back. But, these are very interesting potential clients, so I took the meetings.

The result? I am not where I want to be with respect to my deliverables. So I will be blogging my personal kanban this week, so you can see what I do to finish my work.

Now, you can see from my picture, I don’t always do personal kanban “right.” I don’t have stickies. I have a list. That’s wrong. You’re supposed to do queues. Well, I don’t. This is my kanban. I can do anything I want with it.

Why don’t I use stickies? Because I don’t want to get up and move a sticky on a board. I get too dizzy. My desk is a disaster, so I don’t use a kanban notebook. it would get buried And, I don’t believe in tools. (Sorry, tool vendors.) I like paper and pen. I get total transparency this way. It’s easy for me to move things around.

I do schedule my longer-term article commitments to other people in the reminders tool on my Mac, so I don’t forget things.

I have a backlog in rough order of priority. Well, sort of. I have a ton of things to do before Wednesday, 5/1. Yes, everything down to “SQGNE presentation by 5/1″ is supposed to be done before 5/1. I can pick anything I want off that backlog and get it to done before 5/1.

Note that I have first drafts specified for the coaching workshop and the PM workshops. I have draft zeros done already. It’s time to finish the first drafts, and put them aside for another day or so. I already have draft one of the Sweden hiring workshop, which needs finishing, which is why it’s farther down on the list.

If people call and need something that does not go on the backlog, I have an urgent queue on the right side of the page. We’ll see how the week goes.

Remember, I’m only one person, so my WIP limit is one, which is why I didn’t even bother with a “Doing” column. I’m not going to have a PEN column this week. If I call anyone this week, it has to be after I get my todos done for my trip. I’m not taking interruptions. I have way too much work to do.

Oh, and I’m still working out at the gym, and sleeping my regular hours and eating properly. In order to accomplish everything I need to do, I have to take care of myself and maintain and sustainable pace.

Let me know if this is interesting to you. Yes, this blog post counts as my “MPD blog” entry.

About Johanna Rothman

I help managers and leaders do reasonable things that work.
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7 Responses to Personal Kanban and Iterations, Day 1

  1. Thanks for sharing the post,

    I like to use the kanban – As I have lots of plans throughtout the day-weeks and then continue to month But as usually, it fail to disaster due to other interruptions.

    I think i have to use the kanban to make me structured – standarized and proper way of living my life.

    I would like to know: Are there any procedures that kanban should be used ?

  2. Thanks for sharing the post,

    I like to use the kanban – As I have lots of plans throughtout the day-weeks and then continue to month But as usually, it fail to disaster due to other interruptions.

    I think i have to use the kanban to make me structured – standarized and proper way of living my life.

    I would like to know: Are there any procedures that kanban should be used with?

  3. Srinivas, Consider limiting the work on your kanban to a week at a time. Have whatever you want in your backlog, but only take from the backlog into the Ready queue what you think you can do this week. You will have to do project portfolio management for the rest. Have you read the Personal Kanban book? I wrote a review of it: Book Review: Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life.

    For your project portfolio, my book might be overkill, but the ideas are relevant. See Manage Your Project Portfolio.

    What I discover when I use one-week iterations, and review my work after one week, is the work I don’t do, week after week. That’s the work I hire other people to do for me.

  4. Christian says:

    Hi Johanna,

    I use Kanban too. But I am not going with a list. I created a huge sheet of paper and stick post-its on it. See:
    http://www.grobmeier.de/vanilla-kanban-28082012.html
    It’s pretty easy then to move cards from one region to another or delay a card, if something surprised me.

    I also read your day 2 post, looking forward to more of them

    Cheers
    Christian

  5. Christian, I like your vanilla kanban!

  6. Mike Duffy says:

    I know you’re tool-averse, but your readers might be interested in Trello (card-based tool, also free).

  7. Mike, thanks. Yes, some people like Trello.

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