Productivity Tools And Kanban Boards


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Let’s get to the point.  I am not some guru with the answers.  I am someone who is on a mission to try and cram 28 hours into a 24 hour day, lol. Ok, not really, but well….kinda.  Let’s face it. Maintaining high productivity levels can be a challenge. If you are like me, it can become even harder to be productive when your attention is in a lot of different directions.  I realize that I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to putting stuff on my plate.  There are so many things that fascinate me and I want to find a way to include it all.  However, I often find myself asking how.  

Now, full disclosure, I’ve been down this path before.  That is the path of organizing my life so that things can get done.  Don’t get me wrong, I have started and stopped so many times.  Why did I stop?  It typically wasn’t that the technique or strategy didn’t work.  Quite the contrary.  Many of these techniques would provide great results when I followed them.  Unfortunately, I fell into a trap that I have fallen into time and time again.  

Let’s see if this has ever happened to you?  Have you ever started something, and it starts working so well that you actually stop doing it?!  Sounds crazy right?  That happens with me.  When I would start using one of those productivity techniques, I started getting results.  Those results provide their own sort of momentum.  And for me, that is where the problem can come in. The momentum could lull me into a false sense of security.  I would take a break from the technique that was producing the results, however that initial momentum that generated was still carrying me along.  I am getting the benefits from what I started in the past, however I neglected to continue it in the present.  When that momentum stopped, so did the effectiveness of my effort.  I was still able to have some level of productivity, but not like it was before.  Does that make sense?

Productivity Tools – So What Will I Try Now?! 

When it comes to being productive, there are a couple of basic tenants that I believe hold true across the board.

  1. If you do not write/type it down, there is a good chance it will not get done.
  2. Your focus must be narrow.

I eluded to this above.  Narrowing my focus is a challenge.  This not only includes focusing on a few things.  It also means while I am focusing on those few things, not multi-tasks.   To help me to do this, I am using something that I used to use (imagine that, lol) and now I am going to reuse it again.  There are tons of productivity tools that I am sure will work, however I am focusing my efforts with this one. It is a tool called a Kanban board.  

There are lots of articles, videos, and even books that speak about how this tool can be used.  I don’t want to spend a ton of time going through this concept because I don’t want to distract from the main thing.  There are lots of cool apps you can use to create your Kanban board.  You could use any of those, however I went the free route.    I simply opened up Google Sheets. The reason why this works for me is simple.  A Kanban board is really all about visualizing your work. Here is how I set it up below.  

Kanban Board Example

I have one column that I call my backlog.  This consists of everything I want to get done.  As new things pop up in my life, I add them to the backlog.  I have another column called Work In Progress (WIP).  This is where I take items out of the backlog to work.  Because my goal is to limit my distractions by only focusing on a few items, I keep this list to around 3-5 items at a time. On the Trello blog, they make a great point about the purpose of the Kanban methodology as a whole.   You can see it below.  

Remember—the main goal of the kanban method is to control the work-in-progress. This means the team should only work on a few tasks at a time for any given project. By limiting the amount of work in progress, the entire team can easily identify which tasks need support or additional time to complete. Atlassian’s agile coach explains: 

“WIP limits improve throughput and reduce the amount of work “nearly done”, by forcing the team to focus on a smaller set of tasks. At a fundamental level, WIP limits encourage a culture of “done.” More importantly, WIP limits make blockers and bottlenecks visible

You can check out the entire blog posts here

In my opinion, this is the power of this method.  If followed, it really helps all involved focus on getting things done in bite sized chucks.  If there is something, for example, that pops up that I just “have to work on”, I can.  The caveat is that I take an item in my “WIP” column, put it back into the backlog, and then add the “can’t wait” item from my backlog to the WIP column.  This way, my Work In Progress in still only limited to between 3-5.  My last column is “Done”.  Finished task go in there

I am excited about what this will do from a productivity standpoint!  I will keep you updated on my progress.  It now time to buckle down and get things.


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