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Visualizing Success: From Pinterest to Personal Kanban Boards

Posted by Mike Boettcher on Jun 15, 2017 6:00:00 AM

Spend any time on Pinterest lately? Maybe you’re pinning to create a board for an upcoming vacation, your child’s birthday party, or your weeknight dinner menu. Whatever the purpose, it provides an effective tool to visualize a particular aspect or event in your life. But let's be honest, we spend A LOT of time on Pinterest, along with every other social network. This can distract us from focusing on more important tasks and priorities on any given day, even at work. So today, we want to introduce you to a new board that you can use to visualize your day, manage tasks, and use your time more efficiently, so that when Pinterest calls, you can start pinning the fun stuff guilt free.

A lot has been said about the value of visualization to help understand processes and drive success in the workplace.  I have witnessed it benchmarking ‘Best in Class’ companies all across the world, from Shingo to PEX, OpEx and Best in Industry award winners, to name a few.  But sometimes we struggle with a place to start.  Enter in the Personal Kanban Board, a powerful tool that you can quickly put in place, and make a big difference in your everyday life, by visually enhancing work requirements.


Your Personal Kanban Board is a visual workflow of tasks you need to complete, whether business or personal.  Some tasks need your attention immediately, others later today, later this week, or when you get extra time (what is that??).  The key is that if you write each task down you have a considerably greater chance of completing it.  A simple Personal Kanban board takes the tasks you have written down, and displays them using just a few columns: To Do, Doing, Done.

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All you need is a wall or whiteboard, post-its and a little creativity (scroll to the bottom for digital tools). I like using a magnetic white board, as well as the use of colors to assist in task coding, which helps increase focus.  For regular reoccurring tasks I have pre-made task magnets that move onto the board when they are required to start These may include daily/weekly tasks, monthly reports, training, payroll, or reoccurring meetings.  When you are satisfied with your Personal Kanban board, you can add tack time for tasks (how long it takes to complete the task), as well as due dates to help plan and balance the day.  At the end of the day you can look back and analyze work results to better schedule your future activities.

Once it’s working you may notice that you need to add a few more details, such as To Do Standard or To Do Hot, which signifies increased focus on critical items.  In the Doing column, try to limit the number of items in process (a true Kanban) to two or three.  Everyone likes the idea of multi-tasking, but this ensures you keep a clear focus on a few tasks rather than having too many balls in the air.  For long term projects, you might add a column for Projects and a Waiting column for when your project is on hold.  Breaking out projects into steps and listing them on colored post -its can help monitor each step’s progress. 

A Personal Kanban Board offers many benefits on a daily basis, including:

  1. It helps visualize all tasks/steps needing your attention (not just due today).

  2. When you get ready to leave at the end of the day you can pre-prioritize tomorrows work, reducing stress.

  3. Everyone can see what is on your plate. 

  4. When you are caught up, you can logically get ahead of work.

  5. When others on your team use a Personal Kanban board, task sharing becomes much easier.

Take a few minutes and give it a try, you may be asking yourself why you didn’t do this years ago. 


Prefer a digital method? There are several online tools available that help you manage a Personal Kanban on your computer or smart device. We found Trello and KanbanFlow to be the most helpful. Click below to try them out!

Trello Link

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If you're looking for a partner to help implement tools like the Kanban Board in your company, or develop your continuous improvement program and lean leadership, click below to learn more about MAU's consulting services and start the journey now. 

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Topics: Lean Business Practices, Lean Management, Pinterest, Personal Kanban