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Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,020 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Machines need to be productive. People need to be effective.Productivity books focus on doing more, Jim and Tonianne want you to focus on doing better. Personal Kanban is about choosing the right work at the right time. Recognizing why we do the things we do. Understanding the impact of our actions. Creating value - not just product. For ourselves, our families, our friend ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published February 2nd 2011 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform (first published January 3rd 2011)
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Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
My wife is a life-long devotee of Franklin Planners and that has worked well for her, but I've never done well with to-do lists. Since reading this book I've started using a personal Kanban to manage my work at the office and after 3 weeks I now understand why to-do lists never worked for me. My problem is that I can think of 10 things I want to do for every 1 thing I have time to do. With a simple to-do list I soon become overwhelmed by tasks and eventually give up. The Kanban approach allows m ...more
Haider Al-Mosawi
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book describes how the practice of kanban can be applied to personal projects and small teams. I would highly recommend that you look into kanban and to start experimenting with it.

Kanban is simply the visualization of your tasks, and commonly uses a whiteboard with post-it notes. A very basic structure is to divide your whiteboard into 3 columns:

Backlog | Doing | Done

(The book replaces "Backlog" with Ready, and suggests keeping a separate backlog elsewhere)

Using post-it notes, you populat
Johanna Rothman
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a consultant, I want the flexibility to adapt my work to take advantage of opportunities that might arise in a given week–to write an article or blog post, or to propose a project to a new client. And, while I try to plan a week’s worth work, I need the flexibility to adapt my work on the fly. I work in small chunks, finishing work. I like seeing completed work. I have a great sense of accomplishment when I see completed work.

Sure, if I have the flu or a tough vertigo attack that lasts a whil
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the best personal productivity book I've read since Getting Things Done. It is my new favourite. I really like the emphasis on sticking to a few simple principles and designing and continuously improving your own system around them. ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been experimenting with the Personal Kanban approach for a few months now. All in all it constitutes an important improvement over my previous to-do list-driven routine. I feel I am now managing the balance between short term and longer term goals much more effectively. This book was a lucid and rousing introduction to the approach. I found the authors’ tone of voice very sympathetic: informal but not brazen, inspirational but not overblown. Some reviewers are of the opinion that the book ...more
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is a must have for anyone looking to become not only more productive, but also effective, and efficient. Personal Kanban Mapping Work Navigating Life will give you the knowledge needed to understand how to use personal kanban effectively, whether you are a student, professional, or in the home, no matter what your age. You will learn just how Personal Kanban will grow, flow, and evolve just as naturally as you do. This book will be a constant companion. From front cover, to footnotes, ...more
Vỹ Hồng
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wish I had checked the reviews more thoroughly:

waaaaaay too long - could have been condensed to 5 pages ..maybe 6 if they wanted to go into details - Radu

Not a bad technique but feels like a blog post with lots of filler - José

A quick, not upleasant read.
If you're basically familiar with the idea of a Kanban board for managing work, the entire content of the book could fit on one good 8.5 x 11" page.
- Alex French

Go read a blog post, people.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book did not work for me. I had recently become interested in Kanban and read this book along with a selection of others on the subject. I like to immerse myself in a subject and get a well rounded view. Also, as a GTD user of over 10 years I could see that Personal Kanban could plug a few holes in GTD. so far so good.

Unfortunately the execution of this book missed the mark for me.

Firstly it seems bizarre that a book that constantly pushes the benefits of visualisation does so little to s
Gary B
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read_2017
Jim and Tonianne describe a simple, accessible method of managing workflow.

Parts of the book made me laugh out loud as they describe situations they've experienced.

The approach is certainly simple but allows for individual tinkering to suit different types of projects, teams and workflows. As its simplest there are two rules:
1. Visualise your work - by writing out tasks on cards or paper and sticking these on a kanban (Japanese for sign board). This allows us to see all of our tasks so we can de
Dr. Tobias Christian Fischer
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really good ideas to decrease the level of stress and lift happiness.
Dan Slimmon
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good stuff! I prefer lightweight frameworks to the Franklin-Covey behemoth, so a flexible system with only 2 hard and fast rules (1: visualize your work; 2: limit work-in-progress) is appealing to me. The appendix lists a few variations people have applied to the basic framework, but I would've liked more detail on those. ...more
Igor Đukić
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Personal Kanban is a board that could help you plan, monitor and execute tasks that are in front of you.
Merging personal and work plans could be useful because items on plans could be dependent. Like living healthy, what could be item from personal plan, but “reducing stress” could be part of work plan that will help you achive living healthy.
Board could be physical or virtual with at least three columns Ready, Doing, Done. “Doing” column have limit on number of items under it (Work in progress)
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a decent read on how to apply the Kanban system to your personal workflow, especially considering that when I first heard about Kanban and went to look for books on it, all I could find came out of lean manufacturing. Most helpful in this book are the two simple rules - visualize your work and limit your work-in-progress.

The second most useful part of the book are the examples of how people have made personal Kanban work for them.

Less useful were the chapters trying to make Kanban differ
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Personal Kanban is the McGuffy Reader for anyone wanting to work effectively in the current age. If you take on the practices offered in this book, and *practice them* in your personal and professional life, you'll be taking the first step to transforming your approach doing the greatest work you're capable of.

The gems within this book are the simple practices that make the central concepts real. "Visualize your work" and "limit your work in progress" make a lot of sense, but they're worthless i
Brad Wenner
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I hate this kind of book, and dude quotes Donald Rumsfeld glowingly and ran the CIA, so I am not the audience for this. Half the book is corporate management pseudo-science and dumb TED talk type anecdotes, all of which I will admit I barely skimmed on the subway.

BUT the so-called 'kanban' approach to managing projects is useful, and this book contains some useful advice for implementing it. I freelance and juggle multiple projects and clients, and the 'visualize your work', 'limit what you are
I have started using Kanban for my personal life after using it professionally, and I have to say it is a system that works. There are so many small things I have remembered to do that were on my list that I would have forgotten. Kanban works for your personal life because it is a low-friction planner. You don't put a lot of work into maintenance of your to-do list. You can have any number of items in your to-do list without feeling overwhelmed by it. You simply bring over the things you are goi ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-n-mgmt
As I progressed reading this text, I had a question gnawing away in my mind. Isn't all this common sense? Why do we need a textbook to explain these to us? But then common sense isn't that common. And as the book itself rightly suggests, we often loose sight of the bigger picture. It almost always puts things into perspective and puts us back on track. Well done Benson & Barry! ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
A little too hard on the persuasive and emotional aspect of kanban... Strong introduction nonetheless.

I was familiar with kanban already and learned several new approaches with it. Check it out If you're looking to kickstart some old skills or learn a new one.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had been introduced to Kanban before reading this book. I had been intrigued and tried to use it for my personal life. The concepts made sense to me - figure out what is important and how to get things done, populate the list of things to get done, limit the amount of work I am doing at once, and pull work when I need more. It worked pretty well, I was productive and that little dopamine hit every time I moved something to Done felt awesome. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique and I thought I ...more
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book. It shows you how apply the "kanban board" style of project tracking more generally, beyond the primary use-case of tracking software projects for a team.

With the tips and tricks in this book, you can apply to all of your projects, personal and professional, to replace a myriad of to-do lists which, as the author states, are "spawns of the devil" and "must be stopped."

The most useful aspects are the real-world examples as well as showing variations of the standard value
Valorie Hallinan
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time with this book. For a personal kanban book, I would expect it to not look like a dreary, unattractive business book (not that business books should look that way either), and I would also expect that the writing would be warmer and friendlier; terms are used and not explained. I sometimes had to read sentences more than once to figure out what the authors were getting at. The photos of post it notes and hand writing on a white board are illegible and unattractive, so they fail ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am interested in productivity. My work is intense and challenging mentally. I have many projects and smaller task continually vying for attention. I also have to direct the work of staff. The outcomes from our work affects hundreds of staff and tens of thousands of customers. I have a method i have evolved over years and it works but I am always looking for ways to tweak or imported it.

I have heard s of Kanban before and have seen some simple implementations if it. I always thought it was to s
Marius Colacioiu
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kaizen
The last chapter, Endgame, has a nice summary of Personal Kanban:

“The game of Personal Kanban has a grand goal: to live effectively. To win at this game, we need to define our work, rather than let our work define us. To escape the tyranny of push, we must complete what we start, exercise options for effectiveness, and increase the occurrence of what brings us joy. To achieve these objectives, we need to understand both our work and our relationship to it. A wonderful, circular and self-perpetua
Kevin Lambert
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kanban boards are a visual way to track tasks and work in progress/process (WIP). The idea is to limit your WIP so you focus down your most important tasks and don't get caught up in the multi-tasking trap. Kanban boards originate from Japanese manufacturing, but are now used in Agile software development and DevOps. I really enjoy the overall method of task management that this book presents, but feel that certain areas could definitely use expansion (metrics, retrospectives, and other improvem ...more
Işıl Uysal Calvelli
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: being-human
The book points out the foundations of effective work: visualize your work, minimize work in progress. And pull work as a choice, see that it finished, rejoice and reflect on what flows, what doesn't. I liked it much better than a productivity book because of its emphasis on being human and not separating work from life and not judging things we do for pleasure or to cultivate our relationships and "not urgent, not important" but instead part of our value chain. The book was in my room, I was sc ...more
Joe Power
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Getting back control: A roadmap

I came across this book from the appendix of Project Phoenix (another book I would highly recommend). The book provides a system for managing work by visualising the backlog and limiting the "Work in Progress". Those are the two basic rules. The rest of the book explains the reasoning and how to apply this to real life. I found the system easy to use and was invaluable in getting on top of both personal and work tasks. I'm still in the early weeks of using this and
Okay, it's been 2.5 years, I think it's time to admit defeat on this one. I already know how to use kanban for website/software development (personally I prefer Scrum) so I started reading this to see how to apply it to personal task management, but I just can't get inspired to finish it. I've since discovered bullet journalling which I find incredibly effective for managing personal tasks and it's been my preferred method for the last year or two.

Perhaps check this book out if you've come to th
Tim Riley
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing opportunity to step back and look at my work from a completely different angle. We've been using Kanban boards at work for a few months, but after reading this book and organizing my life's todo list in a similar fashion, it helped me make some determinations about what's important and where I needed focus. The practices and advice in this book also applied to the board I was already using at work, and after months of feeling overwhelmed and barely treading water, I suddenly found mys ...more
Chuck Cova
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pers-prof-dev
"Personal" Kanban is not written to be about applying kanban in your personal life, but rather as an individual in your workplace/team/organization. I found quite a few answers to problems I'm trying to solve and am excited to work at bringing this to reality as a project management tool in my org.

With that said, the book uses personal life examples to explain the concepts, so it actually also works well to understanding how this can help in your personal life.

First visualize the work.
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