Visualizing Motivation in a Personal Kanban Board

The basic flow of a personal kanban board is pretty straight forward with it’s To Do, Doing, and Done. This alone is an incredible step forward in allowing the individual to visualise the work and limit the work in progress for incredible focus. Combine the tasks with Pomodoro Technique and the essential tools are in place for an incredible mindset adjustment towards productivity, as I’ve discovered with introducing both personal kanban and Pomodoro Technique to college curriculum. Over the last couple of years, I’ve played with virtual board designs and have discovered that flexibility of a board design is absolutely paramount for me. Although I could extend this blog post into work related board my team maintains, I will limit the scope to personal kanban. Right now I have three different boards with three utterly different designs.

Board One
The first one contains several columns and essentially a representation of each step required for developing curriculum for one of my clients. I share this board with them so that they have a continual pulse of the status of each piece of curriculum.

Board Two
The second one is also a shared board between a co-presenter and myself for developing a presentation remotely together for a conference.This board is more unique in that it is a vertical flow rather than horizontal. It starts with the early steps of brainstorming what the audience needs to hear from us, then cards are pulled down into the appropriate order of delivery, and then the final section at the bottom is the storyboard of the presentation. Some cards will be left behind in previous sections but remain there in case we discover that they are necessary after all or reminders to us on why we didn’t include them. Here is another example of a presentation already delivered.

Board Three
The third board is my weekly task board, and probably experiences the vast majority of experimentation of board layout. For example, it started out with simply To Do, Doing, Pending, and Done. Then it went to having six swim lanes within To Do to represent each day of the work week and the weekend. This was an important change as I stopped working 14 hours a day on Monday and Tuesday to get through To Do and developed a balance of the necessary tasks across the week. I then added Meetings as a separate column so I could be sure that I kept to my maximum of six work related meeting hours a week. Another major change was adding a swim lane in Doing for on-going projects where I put the number of Pomodoro times I dedicated to the project.

However, there is one major aspect missing for me across this third personal kanban board. The first two have a clear motivation and outcome, but the weekly task board is almost a droning on and on of endless tasks, diminishing my motivation to complete them and raising the resentment levels of my job. Then I had the opportunity see Siraj’s personal kanban board where he had the first column as really crazy dreams (fantasies), a second column of realistic life goals that were still huge in nature, and amazingly, a column of distractions. This really impacted me as it resolved the entire motivation issue for me.

So now I have fantasies in the first column that keep me in touch with dreams that can happen…maybe! Then I have the life goals in the second column that encompass far more than a mere week, month, or even year. The connection from motivation to reality for me is that I split my To Do that has the daily swim lanes between Life Dreams and Distractions. This gives me a real sense of determining if I’m completing weekly tasks that directly support my dreams, or are considered simply distractions.

I’ve already seen huge positive effects of determining which tasks I am going to do each week and my prioritization on those tasks. So explore, reflect, and determine what drives your decisions to do those tasks. Don’t be afraid to stray outside of the To Do, Doing, and Done with an expectation of constantly tweaking your board layout that represents the motivations you need for the most productive outcomes.

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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.