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Kanban was my unicorn and now it is my bitch

I remember one of my colleagues asked me once how good I am in work-life balance. I didn't have a perfect answer for him at that time. The newest addition to our life is Kanban. We made Kanban task boards out of all the surfaces we found, such as the almirah, bookshelf, doors, fridge and it would have been great if we had French windows.

We first started a Kanban task board with my wife's studies. In the beginning, she was using the timetable concept for prioritizing and scheduling study topics. This was working fine till she married (still is) to a husband who is on the computer 24/7.

Prioritizing the backlog items

It was an easy task for us to prepare a Backlog. Some have been already prioritized and weighted with hours (according to her calculations) required on the timetable. We took a collection of sticky notes, each with the topic and the weight written on it. It took only few hours for us to compile all the stickies into a Backlog.

Timetable schedule, mind maps, text books

Some study topics have a pile of materials to go through. These are split into smaller topics. Some are very little but include practical. These are noted with smaller stickies on the study topics. Some topics include those already studied in her previous courses.

Our mission was to prioritize these tasks as Urgent, Important, and Optional (topics that can wait).

Kanban task board

The task board initially happened to be our almirah, but now it is part of our almirah and a door, with three (3) sections labeled “To Do”, “Studying”, and “Done”, and we put all selected stickies for the upcoming week in the “To Do” section. My wife then moves stickies from “To Do” to “Studying” to “Done”.

Kanban door with To Do, WIP, and Done

The Studying in Progress (same as Working In Progress - WIP) is always limited to one study topic since this Kanban Board is only for my wife's studies, where as my Grooming Kanban Board has a WIP of four (4), one item for each Category of tasks.

Grooming Kanban Board with WIP of Many

As she completed each study topic, she is required to come up with a Mind Map. Once the Mind Map is sketched, the topic could then can be moved from “Studying” to “Done”, and then she could proceed to another study topic in the “To Do” list.

Monitoring the progress

However, I found that her tasks were moving a bit slower during later in the day than in the morning. I suspect that when she wakes up in the morning, she can see the tasks and that motivates and gives her a fresh start but it wasn't in a place near to her study area and that decreases her productivity. So we moved that task board to our door which is visible even when she is in the kitchen.

Kanban door at the end of first week

My wife enjoyed using the Kanban system. She felt that it reduces her stress and increased the productive time more than the previous timetable practice she had. She also expressed that she wish to continue her studies with Kanban every week.


marvelTracker said...

This is really a good approach hence, in real life we can use kanban in a very efficient manner.Concept is strong, always visualizing the todo things will motivate us

Jim Benson said...

Thank you for this. Your last point is probably the most important. When you can see your work and start taking it on, stress decreases rapidly. Work was previously unknown and scary, now it's known and easily acted on.

I also like your kaizen event of moving the board. Awesome stuff.

We've written a lot on this at ... but more importantly, there is some great twitter conversation using the #pkflow hashtag. Would love to see more of your and your wife's experiences.

/KP said...

@marvelTracker - Yes, not only that, moving tasks on the board is more enthusiastic than updating status on the computer.

/KP said...

@Jim Benson - Thank you for the feedback and for the information regarding Personal Kanban. I didn't know about the #pkflow hashtag (now I do).

Similar posts on Kanban at Home and Personal Kanban, encouraged me trying Kanban at home. And it did workout well. My wife's enthusiastic response made us more use of Kanban at home.

I have a strong feeling that my wife will talk about Kanban than me when she is done with her studies :-)

Ovini said...

Thanks for the nice Post. Want to try this.

Szymon Majdak said...

Thanks for sharing!

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