Personal Kanban – Overview and Application

Personal Kanban is a popular work management system popular among software developers. It will ensure all your things are organized, and prevent you from multitasking, allowing you to stay focused on the main task. Apart from gaining its popularity from organizational project management, Personal Kanban has enabled individuals to perfectly organize other personal life aspects such as family chores and wedding plans. This system management is a style of working which originated from Japanese car manufacturing plants, and today, it is common among software developers and its popularity is based on the fact that it is capable of creating a visual representation of something that isn’t completely visual.

What is Personal Kanban?

Kanban relies on cards where you record your information, and then it arranges the cards for you. Actually, these cards are just like sticky notes, and Kanban system is like a board that arranges these sticky notes for you. Kanban software allows you to move the cards around in your own preferred ways. Typically, the cards are labeled in terms of ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, and ‘Done’. However, you can customize the labels or the purpose in some of the tools. Generally, Kanban tools are collaborative to enable as many people as possible access the same boards and cards. At certain stages of their life, these cards are assigned to someone who is responsible for the tasks assigned on them. Usually, every team member can see all the cards or the tasks, whoever has been assigned to them, and their stages in the life-cycle.


Personal Kanban borrows some of the Kanban ideas, though it leaves some of the rules, and focuses on rules that are more specific to office work and professional productivity. You can share the information you feed into your Kanban board with family members, caretakers, friends, or even a wedding planner. It depends on what you put into the cards. Currently, there are a few Kanban apps in the market such as SwiftKanban and Trello. However, Trello CEO Michael Pryor pointed out that Trello is not technically a Kanban tool but a company tool that was inspired by them.

How and Why Personal Kanban Works

Personal Kanban visualizes whatever you need to manage. According to Janice Linden-Reed, president of Lean Kanban University, one advantage of Personal Kanban over the other many visual management systems is that it limits works in the progress. The software is a pull system rather than a push system that allows individuals to take only the amount of work that they can handle at a given time, therefore, enabling you to stay focused and organized.

Personal Kanban is very easy to understand and use. For example, if you want to use it for organizing family chores, you need to figure out the columns you may require. These can be ‘To Do’ column, ‘Done’, ‘Doing’ but they can be enhanced to be more elaborate and precise like ‘To-Do Daily’, ‘To-Do Weekly’, ‘To-Do Monthly’. Subsequently, each family member can pick one card from the ‘To-Do Daily’ column every day, one card from the ‘To-Do Weekly’ column each Monday, and one from the ‘To-Do Monthly’ column on the first Sunday of each month.

Examples of Personal Kanban and Who Can Benefit From It

Personal Kanban can be employed in a wide range of tasks, such as managing house chores, planning and organizing weddings, managing a wine cellar inventory, and even helping you manage vacation and travel saving ideas. Various people use different visualization software to keep them organized. According to Linden-Reed and Pryor, Kanban is best suited for visually-oriented people. Linden-Reed further added that those who struggles with burden issues, or those who prefer quality issues in their profession can greatly benefit from Kanban.

DeMaria Barry said that kids with Asperger’s usually perform well using Personal Kanban. She added that kids get serotonin boost and kinesthetic feedback when they pull work from Kanban and see the work in the Done Column. She also said that kids with ADHD usually succeed with Kanban because when they implement a work-in-progress limit, they become compelled to focus on the current tasks rather than getting distracted when they start many jobs but end up not completing any. Pryor said that almost everyone is well suited for Kanban since it is designed to match how human beings already think.


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