In last month's
, we referred to task lists and how they help us increase productivity. In that article, we referenced a great project management tool, the Kanban board. We've had a lot of questions about it, and decided to dive a little deeper to show you how to make one.
So what is Kanban?
Kanban is a Japanese word for "visual signal." It i
s an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress time, and maximize efficiency (or flow). Kanban boards use cards and columns to track what needs to get done and how it's going. They allow you to break large projects down into smaller steps to get things done. As 5S Office Experts, we use them often, both with clients and in our own office.
Though Kanban boards are typically used in sectors like manufacturing, software development and healthcare, they can be used to track just about ANY project or goal. Including personal ones. The beautiful thing is that there is no minimum project size for Kanban, so you can use it to track large projects and small to-dos.
The reason these boards WORK is because they are visual. More on that later.
How to Set Up Your Kanban Board
A Kanban board is basically just three columns: "To Do", "In Progress" and "Done." You can set it up on posterboard, a whiteboard, bulletin board - you name it. If you need it to be transportable, you can even do a mini-version on the inside of a manilla file folder. The key is that it must be visible.
Choose your board material
Draw your columns. The three steps listed above are good, but you can go into more detail if you want.
For multiple projects, you can add a row for each one, as seen in the image at the bottom of this article.
Next, brainstorm ALL of the steps that are related to one project. Write each one individually on a sticky note, and post it in the "To Do" column.
As you tackle these smaller, actionable chunks, move them to the "Doing" or "Done" column. You'll get a little dopamine hit each time - that "feel good" chemical in your brain, which is great for task initiation and follow through.
Remember to place your board in a VISIBLE spot. Behind a door is a no. Inside a closet is a no. Place it near where you work or think best, and easily accessible. Sometimes, getting things done means getting ugly. Don't become stuck by making this board perfect or pretty. It's goal is to be functional.
Have you used a Kanban board and loved it? Have feedback for us? We'd love to hear it!