Personal Kanban Planning at Different Levels

Experimentation is a constant learning process, and one that I have had very positive results from in 2011 regarding my personal kanban efforts. It is extremely difficult to let go of “I’m right” and develop a mindset of “discovering right”…and even further, understand that the discovery process is a continual one with no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As my Tae Kwon Do instructor said at the beginning of each meditation, we must strive for perfection of one’s art; not to expect achievement, but to expect continual improvement.

The discovery process results to date…

The result that has me quite happy with no sense of dread for the planning process of my life is the discovery that I need multiple levels of planning. My Google calendar has my meetings as well as daily event tasks that need accomplished on those days with the expectation of some movement each week as things come up and require re-evaluation. Then I have the image below to keep quarterly tabs on my goals between my consulting, doctoral work, blogging, publishing, and teaching. Although they are quarterly goals, this board is updated each Sunday.


Quarterly personal kanban board with weekly updates.

Now we come to the weekly level of planning (below) where I have my task list colour coded between consulting, doctoral work, director work at the university, teaching, and family life. This has done wonders for me because who plans or remembers to drop the clothes at the alterations anyway? Who remembers that those seven meetings may actually negatively impact your weekly productivity? Note: once I reach a certain number of meetings, cancellations start occurring. I have found my headache benchmark and do not go over it.


Weekly task personal kanban board; colour coded for each aspect of my life.

The combination of these two personal kanban boards with my calendar has proven each Sunday’s planning session to be incredibly fast and productive, with my success rate for weekly goals higher than ever before.

Why is each piece necessary?

It does seem a bit of overkill, right? However, I have found that this balance allows me to keep only the weekly board open with occasional updates to my calendar as needed. Since I wipe out my Done column at the end of each week with a self-satisfied smirk, I still want record of my work-related activity, especially with all of my work being remote. It’s important to have an accounting of my labours, and that is the purpose of my calendar. However, the quarterly board (only for consulting and doctoral work) helps keep my holistic planning in-tact and moving forward.

How did it happen?

Shockingly, having absolutely everything for the entire quarter for even just consulting and doctoral work in one board, including weekly details, is an overriding headache-in-progress (HIP). This resulted in massive levels of swim lanes and a strong subconscious goal that was quickly becoming conscious to avoid the board at all costs. An important discovery is that you can’t have every level of planning even for one type of activity in one board. Deleting all of those swim lanes and only using one swim lane for which particular pieces of writing I needed to do for thesis writing projects was a relief. I had put off the development of a weekly task board because I had it in my head that I had to have everything in one spot (not possible) and I didn’t want to go to two places….not realizing that I wouldn’t have had to juggle two boards all week until after I tried it.

So far, so good. This particular process has been working extremely well for me in the past four weeks, but I’m still chasing the rainbow, and looking forward to the next evolution of my planning system.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

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