I recently came across a very cool website, PersonalKanban.com, that teaches you how to incorporate Kanban techniques at home! For those of you who don’t know, kanban is a tool to visualize, organize, and complete work. In the workplace it maintains an orderly and efficient flow of materials throughout the entire manufacturing process. Kanban systems usually incorporate printed cards that contain specific information such as part name, description and quantity. So why would we want to use a kanban system at home? Well if you’re like me and have a long “honey do” list, it’s a great way to actually get things done!
So how does it work? Kanban is all about visualization, so you need to first collect some basic supplies. You’ll need a whiteboard, dry-erase markers, and some post it notes. Since kanban is all about transparency, it’s super important that you hang the whiteboard somewhere that can be easily seen like the refrigerator, in the bathroom, or busy hallway. It completely defeats the purpose if you hide the kanban board in a closet or little used space, it needs to be seen to be effective!
Once you’ve found the perfect place for your kanban, the next step is to define your value stream. In simple terms, these are the steps or phases in your projects. The simplest way to do this is to create three buckets: to-do, doing, and done. Once you’ve defined your stages, you will need to start filling up your to-do list. If you’re anything like me, this shouldn’t be very difficult at all. Just think off all those projects that have been on your “honey do” list and write each one on a post-it note. Don’t worry if your list looks really long; just make sure you write down all of your different projects no matter how big or small. After you’ve gotten everything written on post-it notes, stick all of the notes under your “to-do” section on your kanban board.
Now that you’ve got a bunch of stuff in your queue, you’re going to want to start working on them all at once. Don’t! We need to set a limit on how many different projects we can work on simultaneously. A good starting rule is to only allow 5 things to be in your “doing” bucket at any time. This will ensure that your projects are done to completion and are not left half finished.
Guess what? Your kanban board is ready to go! Select 5 post-it notes from your to-do area and move them into your “doing” area. As you finish a project move that sticky note over to the completed area on your kanban. Kanban is a “pull” based system, so as you move a project from “doing” to “done” it will free up an opening in your “doing” list. That opening should pull a new project from your “to-do” list over to your “doing” list.
The beauty of this system is that you (and your spouse) will know exactly what projects are pending, which ones are currently being worked on, and the ones that have been completed. The kanban will also keep you from getting overloaded or spreading yourself too thin due to the limited number of projects in the “doing” bucket. This sounds like an amazing and simple way to use a tried and true manufacturing tool at home! I encourage you all to check out the PersonalKanban.com website and I’m definitely going to order their book on Amazon.