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153 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Converted Cynic, April 28, 2011
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This review is from: Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life (Paperback)
I have seen it all. From the primitive todo to the philistine Covey to digital GTD to the nothing-there ZTD, I am confident saying that there is nothing I have wasted more of my time on than studying how not to waste more of my time. I have active accounts with AppoloHQ, Nirvana, Producteev, HiTask, RTM, TeamLab, PlanBox and a gazillion other task management websites. I approach each of these methodologies and implementations with a cynical eye. I do not inherently trust any "system" and quickly pshaw them right out of the box. But I hang on. I hang on to the hope that as my brain begins to drop more information than it picks up, I will eventually find something that will work.

The prerequisites are simple:

1. No part of this process should take more than 10 minutes to implement
2. It needs to be visual
3. It needs to be visible!
4. I should never be in a position where I say "If only I had an internet connection" or "If only I had my laptop" or "If only my Circa Rhodia pad come unlined."
5. At the "end of the day," I need to be able to report on and measure my performance. We are all accountable for what we produce. My goals are directly tied to what I can accomplish.
6. It's got to FEEL good. Metrics aside, if it is ugly, cumbersome or "kludgy," it will never be a tool for me. I seek beauty through simplicity.
7. It can't be binary. Use it or not, there has to be room for a transition.
8. It should not be mutually exclusive to any other system. If I want to implement Next Actions or Covey's big rocks/little rocks, or a universal capture tool (ie Evernote), then nothing should stop me from doing that.

Perhaps those prerequisites were not so simple after all as it seems that no one was able to meet those criteria. Then came a breath of fresh air within the pages of Personal "Kanban - Mapping Work | Navigating Life." What Tonianne and Jim have done is create the most unnecessary book ever. Because with no more than a few words, anyone can begin using Personal Kanban within a few minutes. Of course, far from an unnecessary book, this book expands on the methodology with insight into how PK evolved from Lean manufacturing principles. It proceeds to discuss the human side of why things don't get done which is the ultimate Achilles' heel for many people...certainly my Achilles' heel.

What PK has managed to do for me is bypass the normal procrastination techniques, missing organizational DNA and the inability to hold greater than two items in my head simultaneously. PK is becoming my "staging area." It is the first thing I do in the morning as I make conscious decisions about what must happen by the end of the day. It feels as natural as what all of us do when we scribble a note on a post-it and stick it to our monitor. But instead of a collage of post-its, PK takes simplicity and mashes it with effectiveness to create a disarmingly simple process.

Tonianne and Jim have done all this in a well-written book with simple examples but it is NOT an oversimplification. It is real, it is beautiful, it is doable and it is waiting for you. Pick up the book today and stay tuned for wonderful to happen.

UPDATE: One year later and I still find myself returning to PK as my method of "Mapping my work." I still investigate other methods and am forced to follow another approach at work, but find myself craving and returning to PK. I Have since reread the book 2 more times and am still picking up new information. I have recommended it to friends and coworkers. When all around me seems to spin out of control, it is so refreshing to turn around in my seat and see my personal Kanban board waiting for me. I have a "customized" whiteboard at work where I've used artist's tape to create my lanes and I bought my own colorful sticky notes, sized appropriately for my writing style. Each color represents a separate project. If I do nothing else but LIMIT MY WORK IN PROGRESS, I already begin to breathe easier. The grace of this system cannot be overstated.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 30, 2012 1:16:27 AM PDT
sweMezza says:
Great review, very helpful. Thank you!

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 9:41:47 AM PST
Thanks for your insightful review. Might you know how this compares to pomodoro technique?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2013 10:27:21 AM PST
Hello, LOVE...Thank you!

I am not going to pretend to be an expert in either system, but my "gut" and my actual experience prove that the Pomodoro Technique can be a VERY helpful tool and does not conflict in any way with PK. In fact, I have found that regardless of what lives on the kanban board, you still need to act on that task. This is where pomodoros take over. It provides a method of remaining focused while completing a task from the board (forgive me if "task" is not the appropriate PK term).

PK will organize and prioritize your work while maintaining a "360 degree" view of it; PT takes over at the the most fundamental unit of work, allowing complete focus. In my very humble opinion, without a plan to actually execute your work, Personal Kanban is simply wallpaper but without a total view of your work and priorities, the Pomodoro Technique is merely a method of hard-boiling eggs.

What Tonianne and Jim have done is revolutionary. I sincerely hope I have not done them an injustice by offering my perspective.

Thank you
Dan Leone

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2013 1:58:14 PM PST
Thanks for clarifying.

Posted on Apr 6, 2013 8:32:11 PM PDT
R. Raheja says:
you mentioned universal capture using evernote -- did you manage to utilize the tool as the PK system? if so, can you elaborate on how you use it i.e. using tags for value systems/swimlanes etc? I like the white board approach but was looking for a more "portable" approach wherein I can view my personal backlog and update it from my desktop, ipad or iphone -- which the large white board is not suited for.
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