The Kanban method has greatly improved my productivity
Kanban is a very famous framework which is used by software teams that practice agile software development. Kanban methodology is more than 50 years old.
In the late 1940s Kanban was developed by Toyota Production System (TPS) to streamline production. The company began optimizing its engineering processes in the same way as the supermarkets were using to stock their shelves. Supermarkets stock products which are enough in order to meet consumer demand, which advances the flow between the supermarket and the consumer. As inventory levels match consumption patterns, the supermarket gains significant efficiency in inventory management by decreasing the amount of excess stock it must hold at any given team. At the same time, the supermarket is able to ensure that a specific product that a customer may need is at stock at any given time.
Toyota used the same system to the floors of its factory, aiming to improve the huge inventory levels with the actual consumption of materials. In order to be able to know capacity levels in real-time on the factory floor (as well as to the suppliers), workers would pass a card, or "kanban", between teams. For example, when some materials that were being used on the production line finished, a “kanban” was forwarded to the warehouse of the company, which included the necessary material, the amount needed etc. Then the warehouse would have new materials, they would send them to the factory floor, and after that they would send their “kanban” to the supplier. The supplier would also have the specific material available, so as it can be sent over to the warehouse. The signaling technology of this process has been improved since then, but the "just in time" (JIT) manufacturing process still exists.
The system worked extremely well, allowing Toyota to reduce production costs while maintaining a high level of quality. Later, Kanban became a staple at all business schools.
We can apply Kanban principles on personal life
First, you need to visualize all your projects and processes on a board. You can do it electronically or on a physical board. I recommend using a PM tool like Asana or Trello. This helps you simultaneously monitor everything you need to do and easily ascertain your next task. Instead of juggling several tasks, you are now clear on the next bottleneck. This is similar to Scrum Sprint development theory.
Second, you need to keep your WIP to a minimum. Don’t put too many things in WIP. It will stress you up. The whole point of Kanban is to increase productivity by tackling what is necessary, one thing at a point of time.
Keep 3 categories of tasks:
1. WIP (Doing it),
2. KIV (Wait to do),
3. Done. Visualize how each task move from one category to another.
Limit your to do list to only things that are important
Decide aggressively which tasks should be in KIV for whatever reasons and focus on moving WIP to done. Drop, delegate and dismiss things that are not important.
Kanban helps you by tracking your activities and mastering your time. Kanban is always giving you feedback about your decisions and work, you’ll know well in advance if something needs changing.