Limit your Work in Process with #pkflow

We say yes without ever stopping to consider if we have the ability to do something. We run ourselves into the ground. For what?

One thing I really enjoy about the Personal Kanban planning method (as described in Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life) I highly recommend reading the book. It has made a big difference in my life. I've been using is the fact that by nature, it limits your work in process.

I have to admit that I've always been a snob against post it notes. They fall down and you don't have a record of what you've done. They just seemed inefficient, but not any more.

Our Family Kanban board (I've blacked out the names of my kids) On the left is “On Deck” – Today is the items that will be done today. While we are working on something, we put it under our names. On the right is Done. At the end of the day, I write down in my planner everything we accomplished and note my ideas for improving that in the future. The items that are repeating weekly chores, I stick on the back of this poster to be ready for next Saturday. I cannot put more items on this than can fit. Yes, it was a tight squeeze this weekend.

Personal Kanban is about organizing visually. Taken from a Japanese term relating to Kaizen (the process of ongoing improvement), you can only put the amount of items on deck that you can fit there. The size of the post it note literally. I rebelled against the idea but just decided to try it once. That was three weeks a go. I'm finding that if I pull my work out of my planner and can easily organize and reorganize it that it just keeps me focused. it is so easy to forget about important things when they are in my planner.

Perhaps I'll write more about the method but for now, just buy the book – they did a great job explaining the process.

Here is my personal Kanban board. At the top you can see, Today, WIP has room for 3 things. BIN is things I'm waiting for and Done is what is done. I have a special place here for FCP projects and the bottom is totally items for managing the Flat Classroom book project. I'm about to erase it and put my next book project there now. I take things with me in my circa planner than need to go to my school board. It seems odd but watching the work flow is very motivating.

Limit your Work in Process
The MOST helpful thing I've found is that this system limits your work in process. I am a horrible multitasker and am such a busy person that if someone gives me something to do – it runs in one ear and out the other.

You have a limited capacity to do work. You can't do EVERYTHING. You have to prioritize and make choices. You HAVE TO.

There is nothing noble about telling a lie. Can you live with yourself if you tell another person, “sure, I'll do that for you” knowing full well that you are overworked, overburdened, and over the top with your workload. You have to make choices!

Limit your work in process. Focus on one thing and then move to the next. I love the WIP because when the bell rings I have to stop and teach. I teach every day from 8:15 – 11 and from 12:15-2:15 with just a small break during those periods. I'm not at my computer, I'm running around helping students and teaching. But by having the sticky on my WIP, I remember what I'm working on and the moment I'm done I go back to it.

I have found that I've pushed myself way over the top. (No surprise there!) I expect too much.

Overlisting will cause your ship to list!
I have a small space for my WIP in each of my boards because I can't do it all at once. My problem with lists has always been that I'm an over-lister. When I over list my ship lists and threatens to sink!

Take a look at how you organize
You can really use just about any system for organizing. The questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do you prioritize. 
  • Do you focus? 
  • Do you get things accomplished? 
  • Do you know what you accomplished? 
  • Do you review what you did so you can improve it in the future?

If not, or if you're not happy with your organization system yet, Personal Kanban is worth a read even if the sticky notes are repugnant to you. You can learn some valuable lessons from this very well written book.

Related Topics:

Never miss an episode

Get the 10-minute Teacher Show delivered to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit
Picture of Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

All Posts »
The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
Update Required Flash plugin