You’ll find many Kanban project management case studies online that explain how this Japanese work organizing system makes any job function at a more optimal level. Developed by Toyota in Japan, many American workplaces acquired Kanban as a way to help groups improve their productivity. But Kanban can work on an individual level as well, namely for independent employees in offices.
If you’ve been searching for ways to get more organized and prevent burnout in your job, you can apply Kanban through a relatively simple process. In fact, it’s so rudimentary, you’ll probably be surprised you hadn’t thought of it before.
The key is to use a Kanban board to divide up what things you need to do, what’s next, what you’re doing currently, and what’s been done.
Creating a board is as simple as using a whiteboard or any upright board on your desk that can hold sticky notes. Even so, how you organize this board matters in how successful you’ll be in your work schedule.
Creating a Personal Kanban
You’ll frequently see the term “personal Kanban” used specifically for a more visual way to keep on top of your work duties. A Kanban board generally gets called a Kanban and placed in any spot that’s easy to access in an office.
The point to this technique is to not only get you better organized, but also to keep you from taking on too much work at once. One of the biggest causes of burnout in all jobs is attempting to take on too many tasks at the same time as a form of multitasking.
While some people multitask well, you’ve probably discovered that working on too many things can lead to losing ground on essential tasks. It also leads to more stress overall trying to juggle too many things and ultimately affecting which projects get completed.
How you organize your board changes things instantly, almost by magic. You’ll soon find a simple formula (with some variations) can help you get your work done so you don’t have to do overtime.
Organizing Kanban When Working By Yourself
The key to effective Kanban for one worker is using a board big enough to create at least four or five columns. It’s important to have your board near your desk, though, so you can quickly access it to read or place notes on.
Your first column is your “Things to Do” column (usually on the far left) that may have the most sticky notes depending on your duties. Kanban experts say you should use different colored notes here to designate specific things that need doing.
To the right of “Things to Do”, you’ll want to place a “Next” column collecting the next most essential tasks after the previous ones. Again, use different colored notes for task differentiation.
Next, your “Doing” column is the most important of all, and where you’ll have the fewest notes. In this section, you’re forced to work on only the projects needing to get done immediately. Adhering to this column, you create better workflow because you’re more apt to finish what you started.
Your last column should get designated “Done” so you keep track of what’s been completed to avoid confusion. This is also helpful to your superiors so you can report what’s been accomplished.
Reducing Stress in Your Work Space
We all know stress is dangerous to the health, and taking on too much work only increases this risk. Kanban eliminates overwork while still helping you get more work done than your fellow office employees.
Don’t hesitate to educate them on a basic Kanban plan, including your superiors who can make it a company-wide practice.