Happy Monday – The Beginners Guide to Kanban

Kanban is the term we use in the Agile industry for a board that tracks our incoming and current work, ensuring flow and focus.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll likely recognize this as an excellent way to track Actions in the SPARC system, but there’s a way we can make this Kanban board more than just a whack-a-mole board of joy-less tasks.  The goal of this post is to introduce you to the Kanban board so that you can use it today. But before we do that, let’s step back for a minute. There are a lot of new joiners in HappyWisdom (welcome!), so it might be a good time to go over the values we follow here.

One of the values of LifeSparcs and HappyWisdom is to Live life with Intention. That means we think about or days, weeks, and years consciously. We say no to many things so we can say yes to the things that make us grow or excite us, or have to be done. Actions and accomplishments that feed the soul.

Another value of HappyWisdom is  Value Data, aka Empiricism. Of course, the old adages is that not everything is work something is worth counting, but in general, data is important because it drives decisions. How do you know you’re living life intentionally? What’ the expected outcome?

Being Useful is a guiding light for us here at HappyWisdom. People have limited time, and I want to make sure that every time they come to HW they get something that they can use right away.

The final value of here at HappyWisdom is fun. Have Fun! Life is so serious so much of the time, we forget the healing nature, the rejuvenating effects of finding the humor in a situation.

So, let’s look a quick look at Kanban.

  1. Get yourself the biggest piece of paper you can fit on a wall. That can be a normal sheet all the way to those giant post-it pads (which I recommend).
  2. Grab some sticky notes, two different colors if you can. This pack on Amazon should serve you fine.
  3. Put three columns down on the paper as shown. Backlog ( things we want to do), In progress (things we’re doing, choose only three!) and Done.

It should look like this:



Here’s the paper I use. It’s a bit spendy, but not if it works. And you’ll only need one sheet for a while. Note that I have two color sticky notes. The bright pink one, “See Alita -Battle Angel” fits into the R in SPARC – is a Renewal type action, something designed to keep me engaged and rejuvenated so I can do the other tasks. I try to do at least one pink sticky a week, and of course, this isn’t the only fun I’ve had, but it’s a big one. (BTW – see that movie right after reading this. It’s sooo good!). I’ve mixed work items and home items, but if you advanced students want to sport a third color sticky to differentiate, go for it!

My recommendation is to try this physically and not on your phone. If you follow this technique you’ll notice that you get a little endorphin hit every time you move a card to the right. It sounds strange, but there’s something to the tangibility of the sticky notes. And then, when you finish a big task, you take it off the board, it’s an amazing feeling. Also, if this giant paper is staring at you every day, it’s more difficult to ignore than a list stored in the cloud somewhere. Don’t forget, limit your number of tasks to three In Work – this will help you focus.

As you advance in this technique, you could count how many cards you get done in a week, or how long it takes a card to move through the system. Those measures are more done at the corporate level, but if you’re a data person – go for it. I did this for my bathroom remodel last year, and it gave us a real feeling for when things would be done.

I hope you can see the Kanban board as a way to get the values of living life intentionally, fun and renewal.

You can do this!  Have a great week 8 of 2019!



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