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Forums > Time Management

Something to try in 2012: GTD + Personal Kanban


Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 2

Over the Christmas holiday I spent some time reflecting on my personal productivity system, and came to a conclusion that is helping me a lot so far.

GTD is great for capturing, reviewing and prioritizing my actions, but I've always had a bit of a hard time working from my task list. There's just too many tasks! I end up cycling through tasks, wasting time and not getting as much done as I feel I should. The stress of seeing my enormous (about 400 next actions) list became a barrier.

What I did was this. I combined GTD (for capturing, reviewing and prioritizing) and Personal Kanban for the "do" part of the process. I've been using it for a couple of weeks and it's pretty sweet.

My tools:
Toodledo premium subscriber for several years now
A whiteboard, with sections labeled "backlog", "this week", "today", "doing", "waiting for", and "done". This week has a max of 20 notes, today has a max of 7, doing has a max of 1, and waiting for has a max of 4.

My process:
GTD Weekly review: review, reflect, and plan the coming week. Put a star on each action I want to accomplish that week. Then write a short headline for each task on a small colored sticky note, and put it on my board in the "this week" section.
The stickies are color-coded for my various projects and areas of focus.
I sort them in priority order.
At the start of each day I pick a maximum of 7 actions, in priority order, and move them to "today".
As I work through the day, I pick an action and move it to "doing" and do it. This is a great way to force focus and cut down on procrastination.
When I complete an action, I cheer and move it to "done".
If the action is waiting for someone else, I move it to "waiting for" and move on to the next one.

Pretty simple, and the visual nature of a Kanban board is great for showing me where I'm procrastinating, the color-coded stickies show the relative balance between my projects and areas of focus. And most importantly, it prevents me from being paralyzed by a 400-action list.

I highly recommend doing a search for "personal kanban" and giving it a try.

Comments welcome.


This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: 1

Looks good.

Where is your Kanban board?
Do you share it with anyone or is it only for you?
Do you have data that indicates how effective it has been for you?


BTW, here's a link to Personal Kanban.

This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 09, 2012
Score: -1

Posted by Purveyor:
Looks good.

Where is your Kanban board?
Do you share it with anyone or is it only for you?
Do you have data that indicates how effective it has been for you?


BTW, here's a link to Personal Kanban.

Aha, you beat me to posting the link. :)

To answer (as best I can) your questions:
1. I work from home, so my Kanban board is in my home office.
2. I don't share it, because of the above.
However, there are various online alternatives if you want to share your board with others. My wife and I were looking into http://listhings.com which is awesome, and free. It may allow sharing, but I've not looked into it.
Another great one is http://kanbanery.com/ which I think is free for basic subscription.
At the moment I'm playing with the Chrome add-on called "Pomodoro Daisuki", which is: free, entirely local (no Internet required), has a built-in Pomodoro timer, and fits nicely on my second monitor.

3. Not sure how I could gather the effectiveness data without a lot of work (non-action-completing overhead). Looking at my Toodledo task completion statistics (https://www.toodledo.com/tools/stats.php), I see that I've been completing between 4-8 actions per day, which is higher than before the Christmas holidays. But there's a huge error-bar associated with those numbers. :)

And here's a snapshot of the Kanban Board: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4182916/IMG_0114.JPG


This message was edited Jan 09, 2012.

Posted: Jan 10, 2012
Score: -1


there's another great free tool: Since we use Scrum at work, I came across Kanban. Now Toodledo holds my backlog and the real workflow is managed in www.kanbantool.com. I simply love it!

https://kanbantool.com/signup/new/free (1 board, 2 users).

Kind regards,

Posted: Jan 11, 2012
Score: 0

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who becomes paralyzed with all sorts of emotions when I look at my to-do list.

The Kanban sounds like an interesting idea, and the fact that there are cloud versions is great because I have 3 jobs and often need to do a little of all the other jobs from any given office.

It would be GREAT if there was some hook between Toodledo and a Kanban virtual board, I really dislike duplicate data (Why should I have to re-write my digital to-do list on post-it-notes?!?)


Posted: Jan 16, 2012
Score: 1

Ha, Emily,
I wish there were a hook from paper to plastic... I mean from my GTD planner to my phone calendar. I use the phone for reminders with data (conference call info and reminders, birthdays, anniversaries for employees and clients etc.) I had a phone that crashed twice and I lost EVERYTHING stored in it after I'd migrated completely to my phone and I'm really gun shy to move back to electronic tracking.

I also just like to see everything at a glance and my BlackBerry's screen is WAY too small for good weekly viewing at a glance.

So now I haul around my GTD planner bought at the local office supply store for an overwhelming $60. (most of it for the fancy leather 3-ring binder!) But I do love the sections and agendas by person. I wasn't keeping lists by person and client/account before GTD. I use it heavily but I don't want to rewrite the data that people email so I use the paper for a reminder to check the phone.

Great conversation.

Posted: Feb 29, 2012
Score: -1

I also use Kanban in combination with GTD but in a slightly different manner. I use a card for "a project" (by the GTD-definition) to limit the number of open loops caused by starting too many multi-step projects. I then have subtasks on each card for individual next actions and tag the card with context-tags (as "call", "mail" etc if applicable). I have found AgileZen to be a really good tool for this workflow and it is free for personal use.
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