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I've seen plenty of people using Kanban or Scrum boards to manage the work of a project.

However, I also use a personal Kanban board to manage my work at home, so I was curious - does any PM use a Kanban board to manage the work that they, personally, have to do as part of their day-to-day work?

If so, what kind of things do you put on it? Conversations you have to chase up? Information you're waiting for? Reports you have to produce?

Has it been helpful to you, and in what way? Were there any surprises? Recommendations?

(I am looking for more information on using this to focus on personal work, rather than the use of boards for team collaboration and status tools).

If nobody is doing this but someone would like to try, I'd be interested in what you discover.

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Here is a great article on personal productivity written by Paul Klipp.

It's a mix of GTD, Kanban and Pomodoro. Tasks on the Kanban board are anything from reminder to do 50 pushups (tiny task) to 1-hour tasks (large) or even bigger (huge). Tasks which have exact due date, like meeting at 5pm, goes into calendar instead of Kanban board.

This approach can be easily adjusted to project management tasks. Actually many tasks Paul mentions are project management-related.

  • Hi Pawel, thanks for that. Have you tried anything like this, and if so, what did you learn? Was it helpful? My experience is that it's one thing to see a setup like this and another to actually use it. Many people I know who've set up personal Kanban boards end up letting them rot, so I'm curious about what works. – Lunivore May 3 '11 at 22:21
  • I haven't use Kanban on personal level, but I know Paul personally and this approach is working very well for him in practice. – Pawel Brodzinski May 4 '11 at 8:03
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    I use this and I am very happy with it :) One must only remember to put all the larger stones in the jar first. (justinlim.wordpress.com/2006/11/28/…) – Bartosz Rakowski May 4 '11 at 8:58
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I've been using Kanban for project management for a couple of months and I find it really useful.

First, I try to divide entire project into smaller pieces, steps or "levels". Then I think of tasks which have to be done. Finally I assign those task to each level. I try to work only with tasks from the first level. If I have some ideas regarding different levels, I write them down and then use afterwards. In this way I can focus on more important aspects of every step. It prevents me from jumping between ideas so I am not distracted by tasks I shouldn't or can't complete at this moment.

I hope you'll find your perfect technique.

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I've used it for managing my personal backlog/"to do" list and found it to be very beneficial, and would definitely recommend trying it for a couple weeks. Just like a project-focused kanban board, it immediately provided visibility on where things were getting stuck or slowed, how much time I was allocating to different areas or types of work, and helped me improve overall prioritization.

I've also tried the pomodoro or time-boxing approach, and it didn't really work for me. It felt awkward to try and force various-sized work efforts into single-sized windows of focus, so instead I simply broke up my kanban "epic to-do's" into smaller stickies that were no longer than an hour, and then grouped them together (implying a break) or prioritized them among other stickies, just as you would with project epics.

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I made a very simple Kanban board for myself. The columns are "New", "Waiting on Me", "Waiting on someone else", and "Done".

It's great for times when I finally have chance to catch up with a teammate with limited/tricky availability - everything's right there ready to be discussed.

The categories are broad. I have one row at the top for "Red Hot" tasks. The backlog never stays big for very long. I trash everything from "Done" about once a month, that works well for me.

Tip - This is super handy when the software you use renders nicely on a mobile device.

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