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my personal kanban


My life just does not work without this. I have always had my general to do and tasks lists and ever famous highlighters to mark them off when they’ve been completed. I’ve always said if it doesn’t get written down, it won’t happen. But it wasn’t until I attended Agile2016 and Catherine Swetel’s Personal Kanban session took me to the next level. It was life changing.

That may sound melodramatic, but let me explain.

I have always had my general to do and tasks lists but Personal Kanban session took me to the next level.

Companies have their own projects, products, and features. Either they end up doing them all half-ass and things fall through the cracks or they do some and end up not meeting all their commitments. Both of these can leave everyone involved feeling not so amazing, as staffing and resources are left on the table or expended inefficiently. It could mean they just can’t do it all, with too many irons in the fire, or the “All” needs to be re-prioritized (much like packing a car.)

In my case, I am the company and have experienced both scenarios. In addition to my work with LeadingAgile, I have engagements with family and friends; I am very active in my church; I volunteer in various community organizations; and I enjoy my lovely me-time as I eat, sleep, drink, be merry, and do whatever else I want with the rest of my disposable time and income. Each of these areas are like business units (noted by the different colored sticky notes.) And each these units have various tasks that I need to do from day to day or week to week (noted by multiple stickies of the same color).

Despite my best intentions, I tend to try to do more than my 24/7 time frame allows. Just like a company, I have a limited number of resources in a day, including time, money, and staffing. I must consider how to utilize each of them efficiently, while also considering that my overall health depends on how all the parts interact with each other around the clock, even while I sleep. (Sleep is a business unit on its own). Sometimes my resources and tasks change from day to day, and I must be flexible and inspect, adapt, add and remove items from my agenda throughout  the week. Otherwise, I get bogged down by feeling unorganized, out of control, flakey, and not the best-version-of-myself.

And that just sucks.

I must be flexible and adapt my agenda for the week, or risk getting bogged down by feeling unorganized, out of control, flakey, and not the best-version-of-myself.

This is what Agile as an industry, Kanban boards, and LeadingAgile’s Transformation Strategy means to me. This is also what a good workshop and coach means to me. My colleague, Derek Huether, has a lot of experience with Kanban and attended that same session at Agile2016 with me. I credit him with helping me fine tune this process until I get comfortable on my own. He also serves as somewhat as an accountability partner for this, something for which I discuss the importance of in the podcast “The Power of Accountability Partnerships.” 

I imagine this might resonate with you, too, whether you are reading this for personal use or for business use as a business owner or employee.  It doesn’t mean that you’re stupid or lazy or even that you have a bad product. It may just mean that you need the right tools and coaching to make you and your product or service shine.

So to say Kanban, a visualization of my commitments, has changed my life is not the overstatement that it appears. I don’t want to just DO out of being a “Yes woman” or overexcitement or obligation, and I don’t want to just be a business for name sake… I want to be an empire that operates and executes at its best and one that you can’t live without.

For me that starts with TO DO. TO DO THIS WEEK. DOING. DONE.

Next Student Q&A - The Role of BA, SA and Product Manager on Scrum Teams with Tim Wise

Comments (3)

  1. Jim Benson

    I think “My life just does not work without this.” may be my favorite Personal Kanban exhortation yet.

    And yes, in the next book we actually talk a lot about the role of not working in getting work done. Sleep, short breaks, hydration … all keep the brain working.

    The only suggestion I’d make is … TO DO is screaming “you are a slave to this column” … Try changing it to OPTIONS and see how your relationship to the tickets change.

  2. Ana

    Thank you for the article. I might also sound melodramatic but kanban was a game changer for me as well :) Before I was a mess :) I had too many things planned in my head, too many things not written down and of course, I used to forget them all.. With Kanban, I feel so much different. So much, let’s say prepare for what I am not able to anticipate. I plan every single task with kanban, and I literally feel like somebody is with me all the time. Some well-organized – trusted person ;)
    I feel I can be (professional speaking) a better person. :)
    Good luck to all the people over there! You too are doing awesome job

    • Laura

      Ana, thank you so much! You inspired me to try Kanban Tool, and it turned out to be a success!


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