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Personal Kanban Summary

5 min read ⌚ 

Personal Kanban SummaryMapping Work / Navigating Life

There are many time management methods out there that promise to fix your chaotic schedule, but usually, none of them give results. If you are anything like me, you have tried a few and found that you still lacked time.

So, what reason could we give you that would make you try Personal Kanban?

Well, our reason is simple: it works!

Still not convinced? Read on.

Who Should Read “Personal Kanban”? and Why?

The Kanban system was first developed by Toyota to streamline their production and has been adopted by many other companies since.

Personal Kanban is something like the original Kanban, just customized to fit your own life.

We recommend “Personal Kanban” to people who wish to put a stop to procrastination and gain control of their time, as well as those wanting to strike a balance between professional and personal life finally.

About Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry

Jim BensonJim Benson is a management consultant and the co-owner of the software development copy Modus Cooperandi. He has previously worked for a wide range of organizations: government agencies, startups, Fortune 10 corporations. He uses Personal Kanban to improve working environments.

Tonianne DeMaria Barry is a management consultant, with a professional background in the fashion industry, government agencies, Fortune 100 corporations, non-profit associations, and startups.

“Personal Kanban Summary”

Have you ever had work piled up, making you stressed and anxious, and not giving you space to breathe?

I am in such a situation right now, and I know the feeling can be overwhelming. When I think about how much work I have yet to do, even a simple coffee break with my neighborhood friend seems something impossible.

I know you have been there. We all have been there, regardless of how many times we have told ourselves that next time we will manage our time better.

So why does this happen, again and again?

The stress we experience is connected to our inability to separate our work and personal time, which as a result leads to a disturbed work-life balance.

It seems logical. Our personal and work life are part of the same life after all.

Now, let me tell you where we go wrong.

Even though these two parts of our life create our whole experience, most of the time we pay attention to one part only (usually the work life).

For instance, we do not set reminders to hang out with friends, and write down endless to-do lists for our work. What happens is that we do all the tasks, and then have no time and energy for socializing.

We cannot live happily like that.

To live a happy life, we need to learn to achieve a healthy balance.

But how can we do that?

You guessed right: with the Personal Kanban.

The Personal Kanban is a tool that will help you get a visual sense of all your activities and to-dos and will help you find the path to your long-term objectives.

If you stayed with us until now, you probably already decided that you could use improved organization.


All you need for this process is a whiteboard, sticky notes, and a pen, and you are set to start mapping your more organized future.

Now let’s discuss what you need to do.

First, you need to decide which medium you want to use to create your Kanban – is it a computer, or a whiteboard. We prefer a whiteboard since you can put it someplace where you can see it every day.

Once you have done this, we can start setting up your Personal Kanban.

The first step is drawing three or more columns which will represent various stages of progress: ready, doing, done. As you move through tasks, you will rearrange them from column to column.

Next, create your backlog by pinning down each goal you ever wanted to achieve, but never found the time to. This is where the sticky notes will come on hand. Do not hold yourself back, just write anything you can think of.

Lastly, decide the maximum number of work-in-progress tasks you think you can handle at once. We recommend you to not take too many tasks at once since you will be more productive if you have fewer things to concentrate on.

Note that each person has a different “sweet spot” so pick a number and work from there. Over time you will find your optimal number.

And just like that – you are done!


Yes, really! Setting up your Personal Kanban is easy and straightforward. But now it is time for the hard part: putting it into action.

Do not worry; we will briefly guide you through it too.  

After you have set up the Personal Kanban, the first thing you should do is take on new tasks.

Pick the most pressing tasks and place them in the ready column. Over time, move the tasks with high priority from ready to doing, immediately after time frees up.

The sweetest reward you will receive is the moment you can move the tasks into the done column.

Okay, we covered how you can set up and implement your Personal Kanban.

The next question is why, as in: what can it do for you?

Read our key lessons to find out the some of the answers to this question.

Key Lessons from “Personal Kanban”

1.      Learning to Say No
2.      The Ultimate Time Management Tool
3.      Group Commitments Tracker

Learning to Say No

Personal Kanban stops you from overburdening your brain by limiting the number of things on your to-do list. As a result of setting realistic to-do goals, you end up being more productive, less distracted and more creative.

The Ultimate Time Management Tool

Personal Kanban helps you track your activities, and thus shows you the areas that consume most of your time. Being aware of how you spend your time will let you organize it better.

Group Commitments Tracker

Personal Kanban is not only useful for your personal productivity, but it works its magic with groups too. By visualizing everyone’s commitments clearly, you will know what is next, and who should do it.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Personal Kanban” Quotes

Much of this waste reduction comes from Lean’s goal of a “kaizen” culture. Kaizen is a state of continuous improvement where people naturally look for ways to improve poorly performing practices. Click To Tweet Real-time flexibility beats rigid up-front planning. Click To Tweet In the beginning, it’s advisable to focus on the flow of your work and the idea that your work actually has a shape. Click To Tweet Educated guesswork is no substitute for thoughtful observation. Click To Tweet Planning should occur with minimal waste; it shouldn’t become overhead. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Personal Kanban” offers simple methods that bring amazing results!

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