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Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
When I say it is wordy and repetitive, I do not mean that aspect. I simply mean that certain phrases were said 20 times too often, and certain ideas were repeated as though they were not already said. More ground could have been covered by trusting the reader to remember and reference earlier parts.
Quite a good book, but wordy and repetitive. I would be eager to find a second edition, thinned down 20% and then expanded based on user feedback.
Well done, Jimmy 😀
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Aside from the practice, the book is clear and practical, with doses of philosophy stirred in with the practicality. It's definitely worth a read, and the technique is easy to try. See if it works for you.
The prerequisites are simple:
1. No part of this process should take more than 10 minutes to implement
2. It needs to be visual
3. It needs to be visible!
4. I should never be in a position where I say "If only I had an internet connection" or "If only I had my laptop" or "If only my Circa Rhodia pad come unlined."
5. At the "end of the day," I need to be able to report on and measure my performance. We are all accountable for what we produce. My goals are directly tied to what I can accomplish.
6. It's got to FEEL good. Metrics aside, if it is ugly, cumbersome or "kludgy," it will never be a tool for me. I seek beauty through simplicity.
7. It can't be binary. Use it or not, there has to be room for a transition.
8. It should not be mutually exclusive to any other system. If I want to implement Next Actions or Covey's big rocks/little rocks, or a universal capture tool (ie Evernote), then nothing should stop me from doing that.
Perhaps those prerequisites were not so simple after all as it seems that no one was able to meet those criteria. Then came a breath of fresh air within the pages of Personal "Kanban - Mapping Work | Navigating Life." What Tonianne and Jim have done is create the most unnecessary book ever. Because with no more than a few words, anyone can begin using Personal Kanban within a few minutes. Of course, far from an unnecessary book, this book expands on the methodology with insight into how PK evolved from Lean manufacturing principles. It proceeds to discuss the human side of why things don't get done which is the ultimate Achilles' heel for many people...certainly my Achilles' heel.
What PK has managed to do for me is bypass the normal procrastination techniques, missing organizational DNA and the inability to hold greater than two items in my head simultaneously. PK is becoming my "staging area." It is the first thing I do in the morning as I make conscious decisions about what must happen by the end of the day. It feels as natural as what all of us do when we scribble a note on a post-it and stick it to our monitor. But instead of a collage of post-its, PK takes simplicity and mashes it with effectiveness to create a disarmingly simple process.
Tonianne and Jim have done all this in a well-written book with simple examples but it is NOT an oversimplification. It is real, it is beautiful, it is doable and it is waiting for you. Pick up the book today and stay tuned for wonderful to happen.
UPDATE: One year later and I still find myself returning to PK as my method of "Mapping my work." I still investigate other methods and am forced to follow another approach at work, but find myself craving and returning to PK. I Have since reread the book 2 more times and am still picking up new information. I have recommended it to friends and coworkers. When all around me seems to spin out of control, it is so refreshing to turn around in my seat and see my personal Kanban board waiting for me. I have a "customized" whiteboard at work where I've used artist's tape to create my lanes and I bought my own colorful sticky notes, sized appropriately for my writing style. Each color represents a separate project. If I do nothing else but LIMIT MY WORK IN PROGRESS, I already begin to breathe easier. The grace of this system cannot be overstated.
I think the process suggested (previously defined by David Anderson in his Kanban book; previously developed by Toyota for manufacturing) is valuable, and has made me give up my to-do lists. On the other hand, I don't think you need a whole book to explain it, a simple (if longer) blog post would be sufficient.
The idea I found most valuable was to strive for effectiveness rather than productivity. That is: try to get things done instead of trying to keep yourself busy.
Why my self imposed deadlines become meaningless.
Why I used to be really productive and effective and the last few years have not.
Why I have felt so exasperatingly overwhelmed even on days when there is nothing I actually have to do.
Not just another time management system (I have plenty), but a way out of the stress and overwhelm of work that keeps coming at me. Of incomplete tasks nagging at me and keeping me awake.
This book deals with the disconnect between our brains and the modern multitasking/deadline driven world. It is well written a doable.
I loved the system, I have implemented it, I am sleeping better. My backlog of projects hasn't disappeared, but somehow making them tangible has also made them manageable...and I am actually getting to them one by one.
We all feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to fulfill our commitments to work and family life. How often do we find ourselves saying "I am so busy, I can't seem to get anything done!" How can it be possible to busily accomplish nothing?
When we maintain a large backlog of existential overhead we feel stressed because we don't feel like we're making progress. Thanks to the Zeigarnik effect we focus inordinately on unfinished tasks. When we finish a task it is flushed out of our thoughts because we're constantly focused on the unfinished pile.
Personal Kanban offers a deceptively simple solution to these stresses. Take all the tasks currently occupying that ball of stress in your mind, write them down on sticky-notes and stick them to a board. By writing them down you're able to see that they're not all equally important. You remove them from the amorphous stress ball inside your psyche and stick them to the wall. Suddenly you enjoy the clarity brought by simply visualizing precisely what it is you need to accomplish. A Kanban is a signboard where you visualize your work. In it's simplest form a kanban board contains 3 columns: "Ready", "Doing" and "Done".
I generally reject dogmatic and/or complicated concepts. What Jim and Tonianne have written in Personal Kanban is neither. There are only 2 rules:
1. Visualize your work
2. Limit your Work in Progress (WIP)
I've explained the backlog already, one of the benefits of this backlog is that you can now easily see what needs to be done, and prioritize those tasks according to what's most important to you at the time. Once you've prioritized your tasks you can start pulling those tasks into your "Doing" column. If you moved every task into doing at the same time you'd essentially have created a visualization of the amorphous stress-ball you had previously stored in your head. This would not have much value. So we limit our work in progress.
This book gives some good rules of thumb and suggestions (a WIP limit of no more than 3 is a rule of thumb) but it doesn't say "There is one right way to do this." or "If you do this wrong you're a failure."
It is a breath of fresh air to see authors/experts admit that all things are context driven. Everybody is different. You might do best by only doing 2 tasks at a time or maybe you'd enjoy doing 4. The theory behind limiting WIP suggests that by doing fewer tasks at one time, you'll be able to increase your throughput. Some great analogies are drawn between what a freeway's capacity is, vs it's throughput. When we do less at a given time, we get more done at a higher rate of speed.
Finally when we move the task into the done column we get to celebrate our small successes. A full "done" column feels good. You no longer focus solely on your unfinished work.
This book is a fun read that will make your life both happier and more productive. It acknowledges that productivity without happiness is not a desirable way to live. Being stressed all the time impacts the quality and speed of our work.
Jim and Tonianne have written a book with the potential to change the way you live and work, while putting a greater focus on your own happiness. All that and a great story about a poodle too!
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