Too Much on Your Plate? Try Kanban!

If one look at your inbox and desk makes you feel overwhelmed — keep reading.
Many people start their workday by opening email or replying to missed calls, while having a list of things to do after that in the back of their heads. It can work out fine, but more often than not, it really doesn’t. As more things pile up during the day, the items one was hoping to get to begin to slide further and further away. At the same time, juggling planned and impromptu tasks can get incredibly stressful, not to mention — unproductive.

Anna Majowska
4 min readJan 29, 2019

Quit Multitasking

What we suggest as a remedy, is trying out a Kanban board. It will let you clear your head of the things you hope to do, put them on the board and manage the day as and when it unfolds.
The simplest Kanban board has just 3 work stages: to do, in progress and done. One of the things that make Kanban different from a paper list is the ability to set an automatic Work in Progress limit.
You’d add all items to the to do stage and then decide on the WIP limit. 2 is a good work in progress limit to start with — it lets you do one thing and keep another at the back burner, making it easy to switch between the 2 when needed.
But the ideal scenario is when you’re able to keep just one, single item in progress at all times. Despite what you may have heard, multitasking is not a good way to spend days, it does not add to your productivity, nor does it help to keep you calm.

Don’t Worry About Forgetting

Keeping track of what you’re doing now and what’s coming up next is of help when you’re being interrupted and completely lose focus in result. Switching between tasks is where the largest amount of time is being wasted and when it becomes easy to lose motivation and interest in what you’ve been doing.
The best thing about Kanban though, is not having to constantly worry about what you were supposed to do, whether there’s something you’re forgetting and having the ability to focus on one thing at a time, completely.

Prioritize and Take Breaks

Using Kanban also facilitates easy re-prioritisation of things, should this be required. You’d simply move a task higher up the list and keep going. It is always recommended to do the most important and difficult thing first. This way, you’re able to make your day get easier with every hour! Visualizing all activity on a Kanban board also makes it easier to plan in a few proper breaks.

Share and Get Assistance

After you’ve transferred all of your activity onto a Kanban board, it may serve as help no only to you, but to your colleagues and supervisor as well. After all, where better to turn for current information about what you’re working on, as well as to an archive of things you’ve done — along with any documentation you’ve attached to task cards.
Kanban Tool is intended for use in collaboration with others — which is why it’s so easy to share your workflow with others, either for viewing only or to invite them to work with you. Seeing each other’s planned work is also an opportunity to find ways of helping each other out — if some of your work overlaps, perhaps one person can do the bulk, while the other picks up something from the other one’s list.

Analyse the Big Picture

Kanban also helps to better understand the big picture behind the work you do. It allows you to review your work over past weeks or months, to see how most of your time is spent, what you’re struggling with and where you excel.
Other perks that will further clear your head and buy you peace are automated functions such as due date reminders, recurring and postponed tasks, email-created items and so on.

Since hardly any profession gets less complicated with time, but rather adds new things to care for, it may be of benefit for more people to get a little help from Kanban. You’ll save time, yes, but mainly, you will gain control over and balance within your workday. Try Kanban Tool yourself to see how big a change it offers, at so little effort!

First published on the Kanban Tool Blog.