The Kanban method helps in managing projects or a number of activities at the same time, giving each activity a precise sequence and keeping track of the progress on a chart or by other methods which we will get back to further on in this article.
A method born in the production industry but applied also in aviation, I don’t want to just explain what the Kanban method is, but I will try and give you practical tools to use it daily.
Let’s see in detail what it’s all about.
We all have different projects that we carry out in life: our job, second job (for some), studies, family, children, companions, sports, hobbies, new house, renovations many activities to which we dedicate our time, or to which we would like to dedicate more time, but this is not always possible.
Appling the Kanban method it is possible to keep track of a certain number of activities that we are carrying out in different fields of our lives.
For those that work in aviation not always do they have regular working hours, many need to work shifts and therefore have to organize themselves as per their working schedules, slotting into their spare time things they need to do.
Above all pilots that always have different time schedules and do not often go to sleep or wake up at a regular time, they don’t know the meaning of routine life, their profession entails hardship and fatigue, both mentally and physically.
Not only pilots have these hardships, but also those employed in airports that carry out jobs such as maintenance and services, these too have schedules that change and therefore cannot complete the projects as they would like or desire.
Therefore, whether you are operating in the world of aviation or a worker or student with a variety of activities, I would like to show you how to apply the Kanban method for your personal projects and activities.
What is Kanban?
Here is a brief introduction to understand the significance of Kanban and where it first started. Kanban is a Japanese word and is translated as “signboard or billboard” with the use of cards.
It was invented by Toyota for the management of its components and semi-finished products within the lean manufacturing method.
On the card was written the origin of the product and its destination, or it indicated the quantity that was withdrawn and stocked and if necessary replenish stocks if the amount of that product went below a certain threshold.
These cards were placed on a board named Kanban on which was written, for example, at what stage of production the component was.
As the component progressed from one stage to the next the cards were moved up to the final stage.
The objective of this method and other methods invented by Toyota, was to improve efficiency, reducing waste and improving the quality of the product and satisfying their clients giving them the finished product when and how they wanted it.
These principals are applicable to managing your personal projects or your job or to your studies that you are involved with at this moment.
Managing projects using the Kanban Method
Lets us now move on to a practical example so as to better understand what I am talking about and what practical instruments to use so as to improve your productivity and efficiency.
The best example that I can show you on how Kanban method is applied, is to explain how I use this method for my blog and in drafting the articles that I write.
Every article that I write, I follow 4 fundamental stages:
- To Complete
- To Publish
Draft of the article
In the first stage, the draft, I write the article paying attention not to deviate from the main theme and I try dividing the article into sections. I pay attention to the message I want to transmit and the logical sequence of the information.
The draft is saved in a folder on my PC called “Draft”. In this folder, there can be any number of different articles, in which the draft is not complete and therefore are not ready for the next stage.
Once satisfied with the draft and I am sure of having written all the information, I move the file to the next folder called “To Complete”.
Once the article is moved to this folder I pay attention to all the details, re-reading the article several times (also out loud), to hear what it sounds like.
I pay attention to writing errors, I check that each paragraph is comprehensible and that it doesn’t bring to conclusions different to what intended, and underline in bold….in other words, I do what Toyota would call “quality control” I check that the article is complete and ready to publish.
When this stage is complete the article is saved in a folder named “ To Publish”.
In this stage I know the article is complete and ready, but not ready to be published. The images or photos still need to be added. I then copy my article on the operating system of my blog, where I add the images or photos and complete the layout of the article ready to be published.
Once the images or photos are added and I am sure the article can be published, I move the article to the folder called “Published”. This is the last and final stage of the article.
As you can comprehend I divide and develop the articles I write in stages and I follow each stage by moving the article from one folder to another.
You need to understand that I don’t only write one article at a time, therefore if I do not divide them into stages I would not be able to know exactly what I have already developed for each article, I would risk doing the same job twice, instead by following a sequential logic, I know what to concentrate on.
This is a simple example, but you can imagine how you can manage different projects and complex projects, using this method from writing an article to your job schedule or your study plan.
Let us see more in detail.
How to manage bigger projects with the Kanban method
At this point, the same logic can be applied to managing projects, by simply applying a blackboard on which 3 columns are written:
Under each column, you can use a Post-it adhesive cards on which the name of the project is written and any notes. Each time you finish one stage you can move the ticket to the following stage.
The example is very simple and can be used in any which way you prefer. In each column you can also add sub-categories, for example, if you are studying or working, you might have as a project (a specific book you need to read) and this can be placed under the category “ work in progress” but best by using post-it cards of a different colour from your work projects.
The flexibility of the Kanban method
It is simple to understand the flexibility of this method and that it can be applied to any field. My advice would be, if you do not want to use Post-it cards, you can use your PC and software to manage your projects with the Kanban method.
There are a few available on the market, free of charge, research on the internet will give you an idea on the software available. I chose the more simple solution, not as sophisticated as a proper software program but the results are functional on what needs to be accomplished.
I use this method also for my profession and I must say it has helped me reduce the quantity of work I need to manage and has allowed me to be more organized.
What is your project?
Surely you have presently an important project to complete. I would suggest the use of this method to give you a clear vision at what point you are and also clarity on what your next steps need to be. Besides the Kanban method, there are other methods that can be used for time and goal management. I will talk about this in future articles.