I make no secret of the fact that I like to run our family like a creative studio – it’s all I know (been doing it a lot longer than parenting, after all…), and it’s also a low-risk way to experiment with new ways to optimize our time – before I implement changes in a work setting where money is at stake. So we were faced with a pretty massive to-do list this weekend – a little out of the ordinary – prepping the house for my mom to come and stay with us for the week. Wanted to up our game beyond our usual baseline level of filth. A walk-through of the place generated about eleventy billion little things to do. Anytime I can apply lean project management to my life – I’m going to jump on it. Also anytime I can use the term “lean” for something I am doing is a bonus (insert thick girl joke here). So hubs and I decided to Kanban that shit, pronto.
Kanban is a method of visualizing your work and the intended flow; team members have visibility to all tasks and can “pull” a task to perform based on their capacity. Kanban can be as simple as you want it to be. I love it for breaking up a big project into visual chunks that I can move around. The physical act of moving a task from “to do” through “doing” and finally to “done” is massively satisfying. Plus all contributing team members (in this case me, F and the kids) know the status of all tasks with a quick take. You can get all fancy and color code your cards (sticky notes, in our case) according to the assignee, or according to priority – but I stuck with purple for all of our tasks. No joke, kids love this method. They like to see a big stack under “done” that demonstrates the work they put in around the house.
The family went super low-tech and used our side door (centrally located in the house) as our board. I’m thinking I might pick up a board for the den so that we can graduate from the door. There are also digital kanban boards like Trello and the “Board” view in Asana (my chosen digital personal project management tool). I also played with Kanban Flow for a while a few years ago. We use a version of Kanban at the office that is generated by data that we enter into FileMaker Pro (used to be a whiteboard prior…). If you’re in a pinch and need to constantly have your tasks in view – I’ve gone as basic as just putting stickies on my monitor at work in those three groupings – and moving them as I am in progress or have completed a task. It helps make a seemingly overwhelming day that much more approachable and possible. And who wouldn’t want that?