Your own…. Personal…. Kanban…

I am disorganized.

Okay, maybe that’s not completely true, but I need to be more organized.  Starting this past Spring, I took a look at how I was organizing myself and my projects, and realized I simply had too much on my plate.  In the midst of balancing a qualifying research project, graduate assistantship, adjunct work, upcoming comprehensive exams, conference proposals, and, of course, that big dissertation off in the distance, I felt it necessary to turn to a new type of project tracking.

My Quality Improvement/Project Manager husband had been suggesting I try Personal Kanban for a while.  And, as I tend to do, I was stubbornly sticking to my guns and telling him I had it all under control.  Then, the pneumonia happened. In the middle of the Spring semester, I fell into sickness like I had never experienced before.  As anyone in the graduate school/ academic world knows, you miss a week and you are behind for the rest of the semester.  In my instance, I was out for over a week, and working at half capacity for another 2-3.  I was in trouble.

So, that’s where Personal Kanban came in.  I created a bulletin board  with the “Backlog”, “Work In Progress”, and “Done!” headings, using sticky notes for easy removal and movement of projects.  You could also very well do this with a whiteboard or even on your iPad, but something about the physical movement of the post-it to the “Done!” pile reinforces that feeling of accomplishment.  Despite my stubbornness, the Kanban has given me the ability to see visually where I am with projects and what is on the horizon.  It also helps me cognitively offload some of the thoughts that are occupying my brain all the time so I can focus on moving forward rather than remembering.  It’s also important to note that this type of organizing can be done at a macro or micro level, with a Kanban for all of your tasks or for a specific project.  For now, I am keeping with the big picture look, but when I get further into the dissertation, I may want to make one for that project only.

Okay, sound off out there (if we have any readers yet)!  How do you keep yourself organized in the midst of chaos?

– SES

p.s. I hope somebody else hears the Depeche Mode tune behind the title.  I will also accept the Johnny Cash version.

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4 Comments on “Your own…. Personal…. Kanban…”

  1. phdtalk says:

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, and for directing me this way… great blog! I’ll keep an eye on your posts!

    • SES says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words and all that you do! It’s been a great resource to be able to reach out to other PhD students who are looking to connect and refine their practice. Cohorts can sometimes be small and the grad life solitary, so it’s great to get that feedback and support from others going through it, too!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I tend to use a lot of different methods to keep organized. I would think I’m not at all organized person too. I love to use pen and paper to jot down things to do but now I’m moving up to using apps for iPad/iPhone. I’m a geek so any new apps for iPad/iPhone I would definitely want to try out. Hehe!

    By the way, great blog you have here! Don’t worry about getting readers. You will have more over the time. You already have me. Haha! Looking forward to more great posts here.

  3. KRED says:

    I will definitely have to check this out myself. I definitely feel like I have too much on my plate and am eager to find a better way to keep things under control than my current method.

    P.S. No surprise I’m sure, but I definitely heard Depeche Mode. Not Johnny Cash. 😀


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