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I have said it many times before to many, many people, I have yet to come across a situation where I have not been able to apply a Personal Kanban to help me be better organized to sail through a situation, whether it be at home, at work, with my non profit or even with my extended family.  I’ve used countless Personal Kanbans but none as important as the one I made last week.

Recently a situation came up and immediately I thought of using a Personal Kanban, it was vitally important that I did not let anything fall through the cracks.  My father had been battling cancer and for a time he was in remission but recently we have found out that the cancer had returned in another area.  There are many aspects that go into anyone who is battling a disease, and with my family this is no different. There are many variables that need to be taken care of.   With my father’s situation one of those variables is that he is going to need surgery.  Of course every surgery is very important.  There are a lot of unknowns, many questions you have and most often you are meeting the surgeon for the first time.

When all of this came to light with my father I decided to start a new moleskine notebook just for information pertaining to his health and doctor appointments. Being that my parents are in a different state and I would be traveling to most, if not all appointments with them I thought that this would be a good way to have all the important information in one place and at our fingertips when needed.

I knew I was going to go with my parents to the surgery consult, so I began compiling questions for the surgeon.  I had also been collaborating with my sister and my husband for their suggestions and as the questions came in I began to fill up my Personal Kanban for the surgeon consult later in the week.

My Moleskine Personal Kanban filled with questions for the oncologist and surgeon

I set up my moleskine notebook with 4 lanes: one with questions for the oncologist, one for questions for the surgeon, one lane to put the question in when I have asked it and it was being answered and the last lane is titled answered.  I put yellow sticky notes in this lane that way I could put the smaller blue sticky note with the question on it on one of the yellow sticky notes and record the doctor’s answer right next to it.

Later on that week we met with the surgeon to discuss the prospects of surgery and what that procedure would include.  We went into the consult room and got comfortable (as could be) while waiting for doctor.  I opened my purse and took out my moleskine.  I opened it to the pages I had made the Personal Kanban on.  Immediately my Mom looked at me and said “I’m so glad you brought one of those sticky notes things with you do for us today.”  My reply, “I got your back Mom.” :-)

Moleskine Personal Kanban after meeting with the surgeon

I was using this Personal Kanban not only for myself but also for every member of my family.  We all had questions we wanted answers to including my parents. This Personal Kanban insured that nothing fell through the cracks and we got every question answered, every concern was discussed.  When one of my parents or I myself asked a question that hadn’t made it onto my Personal Kanban (unknowns do pop up especially in this type of situation) I simply wrote it in the answered lane as it was asked and answered.  What I have learned when going to doctor appointments is that sometimes you tend to get caught up on the first thing the doctor says to you and then because you are focusing on that first statement you really aren’t listening to the things that follow, that’s why I feel it’s so important to write questions down ahead of time.

We left the consult with the surgeon feeling we had every possible variable explored, and every question we had answered.  A lot of the time when you leave an appointment that is so important you feel so overwhelmed.  There is so much information to be relayed to other members of your family, very important information.  I was never so happy that I had prepared a Personal Kanban, sometimes the phone calls to everyone after the appointment can be so overwhelming, but this time I had all the information on my Personal Kanban which made sure that nothing was forgotten or overlooked.

Yes, Mom and Dad I’ll keep making my Personal Kanbans and I’ll forever have your backs. 

My next post:  Find out how I am using a Personal Kanban in LeanKit Kanban to track my students’ progress in my classroom.

You can check out Personal Kanban by visiting the website. I highly recommend purchasing the book, Personal Kanban Mapping Work/ Navigating Life by Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry.

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Do you ever sit on the weekend and think about what you have coming up in the next week? And when you begin to think about what your children have coming up and your husband, you become overwhelmed. And well, you just don’t want to venture into the week wondering how you are going to keep everything straight and get everything done. This happens to me every weekend. Well, let me re-phrase that, the first part happens to me but I don’t become overwhelmed because I take action instead.

It is no small secret that you can’t do everything yourself. A well oiled machine’s gears only work well with all the parts of the machine when they are well oiled. I like to think that my family works in this way. I believe that we do because we use a Personal Kanban to keep our well-oiled machine running.

Last week, we had an daunting amount going on in our family. I was traveling, my husband was going to be traveling and my daughter was starting practices for her spring sport among other activities she had going on. Immediately I got out the sticky notes. I asked each member of my family what color sticky notes they wanted their tasks to be on. I asked my family members this because I wanted each of them to be able to take one glance at the board and know exactly what each of us is doing at any given time, and I wanted them to be a color that made them happy. :-)

A lot of the time when I am entertaining or making a special recipe or meal, I will make a Personal Kanban right on my kitchen counter.

My kitchen counter Personal Kanban

It’s usually a smaller scale Personal Kanban and is perfect for my use. However, when involving my whole family with a lot of tasks, I need more room and need it to be highly visible where all members of my family can access it.

In the past I have liked to use the refrigerator, but the Post-its wouldn’t stick to the door, so I decided on the cabinet that is most used, the dish cabinet. (No one can eat without going into this cabinet!) :-D

Our family kitchen cabinet Personal Kanban

My husband chose the blue, my daughter the purple and I was the pink color sticky notes. This worked out great because I didn’t need to add names, just what each task was and we all knew immediately whose task it was. I even decided to add the day the task was going on, that way when I filled the ready lane I could put every task up in chronological order, it made it easier to wade through.

An example of our task sticky note.

I set up our family Personal Kanban with three lanes ready, WIP (work in progress) and done. Then I filled up the cabinet doors with the tasks. Sunday came, and we dove right into the week.

By Tuesday we were in a very good flow.

What I love most about doing a family personal kanban is the fact that it involves everyone. While I was away my daughter and husband moved their tasks and kept each other in check. Here’s another thing that I love: it’s like I have a safety net in place, it ensures that we are working together as a family (even if one of us is traveling.) I’m not worried that my daughter won’t get to her activities on time. I know it’s getting accomplished.

Saturday Afternoon

By the end of the week, we had wrapped up almost all the tasks, we were just waiting for my husband to arrive back home from his business trip, so we could enjoy the weekend together as a family.

I have been using family Personal Kanbans since I discovered Personal Kanban, and I am always thrilled that each time I (we) learn and evolve while using them.

My daughter gives her appreciation

Although it didn’t happen on our kitchen cabinet Personal Kanban, in the past my daughter has even shown her happiness on our progress by leaving a little happy face right on the board.

Here are a few take-aways that I have discovered since implementing Personal Kanban in my home with my family.

  • We learn something new about each other with every new board we set up.
  • Our family boards are constantly evolving with each new one we make together.
  • Putting your week on a board and being able to visualize your upcoming tasks somehow gives you a wave of calm.
  • I sleep better at night when I’m traveling knowing my family members have the visual reminders of important tasks that can’t get overlooked.
  • We learn to trust each other more.
  • By using color specific Post-it notes, each of us can glance and immediately know what we need to do at any given moment. This has worked much better for us than all of us using the same color and just putting names on each of the post it notes. That can get very confusing, especially when you have a lot of tasks.
  • By each of us having accountability it adds to a great feeling when the board is complete at the end of the week. It feeds our brain and makes us happy. It’s brain candy!* :-)
  • This is something we work on together as a family all week long. It brings us closer together.
  • Each board is a direct reflection of our family and where we are all at together in our lives.
  • This time it was a kitchen cabinet, next time it might be on a white board, on the bathroom mirror or on our family room coffee table. We are doing what works for us at each unique moment in time. This is what I love most about Personal Kanban, it’s personal.
I highly recommend trying this out with your family, or even on a smaller scale, by making a Personal Kanban just for yourself.

How are you using Personal Kanban? Have you tried it with your family? What is your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, feel free to drop them in the comments below.

Follow me on twitter – @topsurf

Like this post? Want to read more? Check out how I am using Personal Kanban in my classroom by reading this post and this post. Also take a look at other ways I have used Personal Kanban to become more effective and efficient by reading this post.

Coming up next: Find out how I am using a Personal Kanban in LeanKit Kanban to track my students’ progress in my classroom.

*”When you pull that sticky note into DONE, it’s brain candy. This is the full quote taken from the Personal Kanban Mapping Work Navigating Life book.

Intrigued but not sure where to start or need more information? Check out Personal Kanban by visiting the website. I highly recommend purchasing the book, Personal Kanban Mapping Work/ Navigating Life by Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry.

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The other night while conversing with a friend via twitter, I was given great advice.  After reading the message with the advice, I lay there thinking to myself, exactly what is keeping me up at night?  What is the road block in front of my sleeping pattern that is not letting fall into a restful full night of sleep?

So after thinking about all the things that were floating through my mind blocking my sleep I decided I needed to take action.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe firmly there is NO instance that a Personal Kanban cannot come to my aid.  I have been able to successfully use Personal Kanban in every aspect of my life. From at home, and into the classroom Personal Kanban has been life changing for me.  So would my streak continue?  Could I effectively use a personal kanban to help me sleep?

Enter my “No More Sleepless Nights PK”.

No More Sleepless Nights Personal Kanban

I got out of bed and went to into my home office, sat down and immediately began to write down all the tasks that were floating through my head causing me to lay away at night.  Looks daunting doesn’t it?  However as I was writing out the tasks I realized there were already three that I was working on.  Three tasks I was worrying about that I had already started and would soon be in the “double smiley face” :-D completed lane.  That immediately made me feel better! I came upstairs from my office and placed the Personal Kanban by my computer.  Then went to bed.  And slept.  Yes, I slept.

The next day I started working and completed every task that I needed to complete for that day.More smiles for me. :-D

So two days in, here is where my No More Sleepless Nights Personal Kanban stands:

2 Days in on the No More Sleepless Nights Personal Kanban

I am going to track my progress with my sleep pattern along with my Personal Kanban.  As I discovered before, a Personal Kanban CAN help a 12 yr old swimmer with confidence, why can’t it help me to sleep better?  I believe it will help me.  Follow along with me as I track the progress over the next few weeks.

*New to Personal Kanban?  Want to learn more? You can find everything you need to know at the personal Kanban website.*

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Ever since reading about Personal Kanban it has been no secret that I had a big light bulb moment. There is, I believe, almost no circumstance in my life that doesn’t call for using the Personal Kanban. After watching my 12-year-old daughter struggle in her first Elite Swim Meet of the season, because as she put it “I have absolutely no confidence in the water” I decided what she needed was a confidence booster.  The problem was how?  After her many conversations with the coaches, and her confiding in me that she still felt a big lack of confidence despite their talks, I had another big light bulb moment in my head.  I decided on a Personal Kanban confidence booster.  So together before her latest meet we sat down, looked at all the events she was scheduled to swim in and wrote down her latest times and her goal times.  The Personal Kanban consisted of 3 major swim lanes a BACKLOG of times, those being the times she was going into the meet with, her seed times.  The WIP lane was the goal times she set for each event.  The COMPLETED lane was called Goal Times Completed.  When she had achieved the goals she set in the WIP lane they would be moved over.

The reason I thought this might work is because like any Personal Kanban she had done before she would see the actual work process and realize that she was achieving goals no matter how big or small and that would in turn lead to hopefully more confidence in and out of the water.  So after setting up the Kanban board she was off to the pool for the first night of swimming.  The first night was a success.  Not only because she hit her goals but because when we looked at the board after moving the first two events of the meet over to the completed swim lane it felt tangible to her.  She could actually look at the board and see her goals being met.

Confidence Personal Kanban

You can view all of my photos here.

The photo above shows the Personal Kanban board after the first night of the meet.  We had small success.  I use the word small only in the sense that she only swam two events in the first night.  The next two days she would swim four events on each of those days.  It was small success on the board by only moving two items over to the completed lane but it was huge success to her.  It was indeed tangible.

After the second day of swimming we still had success and even though she only completed one goal on her Personal Kanban board she was extremely proud of her work in the pool on this afternoon.  The board has caused her to realize that confidence isn’t only about achieving those goals it’s about seeing her work in progress. She only got to move one time over.  She was okay with that.  She told me that she was regaining her confidence after seeing the board again and what she had achieved so far on this weekend.

Confidence Personal Kanban

On to Sunday afternoon of swimming.  Although the day was considered a success in the pool the goals she set for herself were not met.  So there were no times moved on the board they are still in the WIP swim lane.  Next weekend she will get another chance at achieving her goals.  The main goal of this Personal Kanban was to give a 12-year-old athlete her confidence back. According to her, even though all goals were not met and moved into the completed lane YET, they will be. Along the way her confidence will get stronger and stronger with each goal that is met.

Can you apply Personal Kanban to help confidence?  Ask my 12 year old and she will tell you yes you can.

Next up:  I will share my thoughts on some iPhone/iTouch apps that I can’t live without on a daily basis.

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