How Kanban Revived My Work Ethic
I’ve always been a hard worker, but as any manager or leader of a business will know, when times get tough, they can directly impact your desire to get things done.
This happened to me some time ago. I’d been working long hours on jobs that I was fast becoming disillusioned with. As a result — or as I thought at the time — my productivity slipped and I rapidly lost interest in what I was doing.
However, I didn’t realise that it wasn’t the work that was to blame — it was my work ethic.
Thankfully, through a trusted work partner, I discovered a technique known as Kanban, and it completely revived my work ethic.
What is Kanban?
Kanban relates back to the 1940s, when the Japanese manufacturing giant Toyota was addressing work efficiencies within its factories.
In the modern world, Kanban has evolved into a visual process for organising work. Typically, it consists of a board (digital or real-world) featuring various columns, and within each column cards that indicate at which stage each constituent element of a large project has reached.
The simplest example is a three column board that lists cards which are to-do, doing, and done. As each task makes its way along the board, a team can see exactly what’s happening to the project as a whole without complicated spreadsheets or multiple, disconnected to-do lists.
For me, it had a transformative effect on my work for the following five reasons.
It made me more versatile.
I work on all sorts of different projects, and a standard to-do list just doesn’t cut it. Kanban, on the other hand, gives me a process that can be applied to every area of my business and benefits every piece of client work.
That means I’m far more versatile and can turn on a sixpence when moving between projects — a vital ability for anyone who works in marketing.
It made me more responsive.
Just like any business, mine relies on delivering quality products on time, and with Kanban I can do that far more efficiently.
The ability to look at a board and know exactly where I am within each project and how far I am from completion means I can provide reliable timescales and respond quickly to incoming customer requests.
It increased my output.
Perhaps most satisfyingly, Kanban has enabled me to increase the amount of work I do in a day without increasing my hours.
In the past, I’d start work super early in the morning and continue until late at night, but now I maximise every single hour I spend working — meaning there’s far fewer instances when ‘pulling an all-nighter’ feels like an inevitability.
It enabled me to see the wood for the trees.
I’m guilty of having a fairly disorganised mind. Rather than focus on one task at a time, I’m often inclined to flit between projects mentally and get myself into a mild panic about how on earth I’m going to complete everything.
Not any more. With Kanban, one glance is all I need to work out exactly what’s going on for everything I’m working on, and there’s never any ambiguity in my planning.
It made working with people far more enjoyable.
I work with lots of different people, but all of them work remotely from my location. In the past, collaborating with these vital partners was tricky, purely because we were all working from different to-do lists and project management systems.
Kanban — although not distributed across my entire customer and partnership base — works brilliantly for those that have also taken it on board, and makes the collaboration process enjoyable and addictive.
As you can probably tell, I love Kanban, and I reckon it could work wonders for you. Give it a go if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to see the wood for the trees.