The car manufacturer Toyota developed Kanban as a methodology to help teams work on their assembly line. Currently, it is popular with engineering teams working within an Agile environment. Typically, the work being done in Kanban is easily visible and communicated on a Kanban Board. Kanban also helps keep work being done in a reasonable state. A simple Kanban Board has three columns; To-Do, Doing, and Done. As the work is processed it goes through each column state. Throughout the time working on delivering functionality, the work can be brought to a halt to fix an issue. Kanban does not allow for defects and issues to move forward.
Kanban can be present in everyday life. Sometimes you may not even know it is happening. Even if you are not there are simple ways to introduce it. When most people think of Kanban they think of many engineers working together off of a shared backlog. To an individual everyday life, this means you may be playing multiple roles.
Installing a Closet
I recently installed a closet space in my bedroom. I took a look at the space and realized that this was going to be a project that spanned multiple days. So, I put my knowledge of Kanban to work.
Established a Backlog
I started by defining my backlog. I needed to clean the space, move the clothes to a temporary location, measure my area, and the list goes on. After a while, I had my “complete-ish” backlog. At the end of each day, I reviewed the backlog to see what remained and what was missing.
Once I had established the backlog I broke out the post-it notes. I wrote down my “tasks” and put them up on the wall in priority order. By limiting the work in progress I avoided burnout and completed something tangible each day.
Getting to Work
The project began. Each night, I picked out tasks. Then, I started working. Each day I widdled down the backlog task by task. In the spirit of Kanban, I was able to stop my work at a moment’s notice to adjust.
After a few days, I had moved almost all my tasks to “done” and a complete closet. There were a few leftover stories that I found I didn’t need. I thought I needed to go buy a piece of wood to act as a shelf. It turns out, I already had one.
With my project complete I could help but have a mini retrospective. I thought to myself, how would I do this differently? How could I apply this to other aspects of life? As it turns out there are many ways to leverage this. Looking back on a project or period of work, you can decide on what works best for you and refine your approach.
Daily routine for an individual or family
There are certain acts in everyday life that we repeat over and over again. These acts could be things like taking your vitamins, eating certain meals, or taking a walk with your dog.
With these in mind, you can make a Kanban board. Put these activities on note cards and stick them in your to-do column. From there pick them off one by one when you need to do them. Finally, if you get to the end of your day and there are still cards, have a mini retro and decide how to approach them differently.
Chore lists are another great example. You and your family complete certain chores that need to get done throughout the week. Set the expectation that family members each pick up a task to start with. Next, when it is time to do the task they move the card to “Doing” and begin. Stories move to done once the family member has completed them. Then, the family member picks a new task.
If you are doing this with your family, you might establish a few rules along the way. You may say “Do not pick up only easy tasks” or “Try to complete at least one task a day”. Along the way, you can change your approach to better work with everyone.
In the end, the only thing that limits you is your creativity and imagination. Do you have other examples? Post them in the comments below.