It was about a year ago while searching for a productivity tool for myself that I came across the Personal Kanban system by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry. Now they have published a book detailing their system called Personal Kanban: Mapping Work/Navigating Life. Most books on productivity focus on doing more but Jim and Tonianne share a system to focus on doing the right work at the right time.
Personal Kanban is a simple system with dramatic results. It helps us manage ourselves, but also lets us share our work and our goals with others. Personal Kanban creates a visual display of work elements and allows you to manage your workflow.
The beauty of the Personal kanban system is that it is endlessly flexible. Our lives are not static, and neither is our work. Personal Kanban evolves as our context changes, encouraging us to innovate and invent in response to the variation we encounter daily.
There are only two rules with Personal Kanban:
1. Visualize your work
2. Limit your work-in-progress
Think of Personal Kanban as a dynamic, interactive map that surveys your personal landscape for lies heard, what you are doing now, and what you did.
Jim and Tonianne take you through the steps of creating your own Personal Kanban:
1. Getting Your Stuff Ready
2. Establishing Your Value Streams
3. Establishing Your Backlog
4. Establishing Your WIP Limit
5. Begin To Flow or Pull
They also talk about prioritizing your tasks and relate the Personal Kanban thinking to that of other time management theories like Covey’s Urgent and Important Matrix. There is even a section on metrics to help you gauge your progress. Jim and Tonianne conclude with the importance of retrospection and introspection which lead to improvement and solving problems at their source.
Personal Kanban is a fun, practical read on time management. Each chapter ends with several Personal Kanban Flow Tips that summarize the key points of that chapter. The appendix of the book covers several Personal Kanban designs that will surely stimulate thoughts for your system. Jim and Tonianne have included numerous visuals to facilitate learning this productivity system.
There are two key takeaways from this book: Work unseen is work uncontrolled and we can’t (and shouldn’t) do more work than we can handle. Personal Kanban can help us see life’s complexities and make better decisions. With introspection, kaizen, and retrospectives we are better informed, more attentive, and relaxed.
As someone who has used this system, Jim and Tonianne have done a great job in this well written book explaining a novel productivity system. This book is a must have for anyone looking to become not only more productive, but also effective, and efficient. It serves as a guide, a springboard, and a mentor for establishing your own system. And remember Personal Kanban facilitates kaizen.
Note: The authors provided a copy of this book for review.
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