Personal Kanban and the Onion

Authors Note: This continues to be one of the most popular posts on my blog and really encapsulates my personal journey with using Personal Kanban. 

 “…uh… ogres are like onions!   ~ Shrek

“Example?  Why? They stink? They make you cry? Oh, you leave ’em out in the sun,  they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs?”  ~ Donkey

“NO! Layers! Onions have layers! Ogres have layers. Onions have layers.” ~ Shrek

I began using Personal Kanban in June of 2009.  I am almost at my two-year anniversary (yes, I used the word anniversary, I think this day should be celebrated! 🙂 )  of faithfully using this method to be more effective and efficient in all facets of my life.  This got me to thinking about Personal Kanban and why I have continued to use it.

Take for example my moleskine Personal Kanban: 

The above photos show the very first Personal Kanban I made in my moleskine notebook.

I then decided, the first Personal Kanban I made wasn’t working well for me on this particular day so I made a new “daily Personal Kanban”.

Then I was traveling out-of-state and it was very important that I packed everything I needed.  I couldn’t let anything fall through the cracks, so I made a Personal Kanban specifically for all the items I needed to pack.

Later on that month I realized I was not taking any time to do activities I loved to do anymore.  So I thought if I just put some of those “relaxing” tasks on my Personal Kanban and did them when perhaps I was on a pomodoro break between “working” tasks, that maybe I could get some relaxation time in, even if it was just 10 or 15 minutes here or there.

It worked!! 🙂

My husband and I were talking about everything we wanted to do in our backyard this year and while making a shopping list of items we needed, we were getting confused by what and where we wanted those items to go, so I decided to make this Personal Kanban, which is a map of our backyard showing what we wanted to do where we wanted to do it.

While not your traditional Personal Kanban, it has been very effective, we are making headway in our backyard.

I began to notice that when working with some bigger tasks I would move them to completed thinking they were done and then realized I forgot to do something related to that task, such as a follow-up email or a phone call.  That’s when I began using a multi-layered task based Personal Kanban.  I would put the big task on the post it, then the smaller tasks that were needed to be done in order to complete that bigger task.  I was very happy with the successful results.

I went through a 2 – 3 week period where I was having a difficult time focusing on what I needed to accomplish.  So I made this Personal Kanban.  The ready tasks all together and then on separate pages the wip and the completed lanes that way I stayed focused on the task at hand instead of looking at the whole board at once and skipping around.  Staying focused on that one page and task really worked!

I am a teacher and moving into a new classroom in the fall.  I have been brainstorming about several goals I want to accomplish with my students next year.  I work very often with mind mapping.  I like seeing the goal, and then branching out with the tasks of what I need to complete that goal.  So I thought why not combine the two together?  I have made several since this one and I am pleased with how they all have worked out.

Why did I use my moleskine Personal Kanban as an example?  These photographs above show perfectly what I love so much about Personal Kanban.

  • Changes.  Personal Kanban changes with you.
  • Changes.  Personal Kanban changes you.
  • Stories. Personal Kanban tells many stories.
  • Kaizen. My favorite part of Personal Kanban are the Kaizen moments.
  • Creative.  I can be as creative or non-creative as I want.
  • Insight.  I have learned what I like to do and what I don’t like to do.
  • Accountability.  My Personal Kanban holds me accountable.
  • Materials.  You don’t need anything fancy to use Personal Kanban.  A pen, a piece of paper or post it note or a marker and a white board,  you are good to go.
  • Working.  Whiteboard, no whiteboard, notebook, no notebook, online tool, post it’s on a kitchen counter top or your refrigerator.  Personal Kanban is just that, personal. Do what works for you.
  • Simple.  Personal Kanban is not complicated.
  • Retrospect.  Looking at a completed board, what worked, what didn’t?
  • Engineering.  By using Personal Kanban I am the engineer in the effectiveness and efficiency of my life.
  • Collaborate.  By using Personal Kanban in meetings, in my classroom (ABC’s Personal Kanban- Kidzban) and in my home, everyone gets a voice that’s heard and everyone contributes to the success.
  • Brain Candy.  There is nothing that feeds your brain like moving a completed task to the DONE lane!  🙂
  • Evolving.  Personal Kanban is constantly evolving with you and your life.  There is constant flow.  It’s in a word beautiful.
  • Discoveries.  By connecting with others who are using Personal Kanban I am learning from what they have learned.
  • Onion.  Personal Kanban is just like an onion.  So simple, yet so many layers.  This is what I love most about Personal Kanban.  You are constantly uncovering layers, that lead you to discoveries, that lead to a better you.
We are constantly changing and evolving.  Two years, 730 days.  I am not the same person I was two years ago.  I believe I am a better version of myself.  Thanks in a good part to my self discovery by using Personal Kanban.
Personal Kanban is just like an onion.
Ogres are just like onions.  
We are just like onions.  
We all have layers.  
Interested in finding out more about Personal Kanban?  Visit the Personal Kanban Website.
Want to read an awesome book on Personal Kanban?  Purchase: Personal Kanban Mapping Work / Navigating Life 
Thank you to Jim & Tonianne who have given me great guidance on my journey with Personal Kanban over the past two years.
View my productivity photos on flickr:

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