Kanban Board

Work Smarter 8: Regain Focus with The Kanban system

In our series dedicated to help you diagnose your own productivity challenges, and work smarter: The Kanban system.


In the last session we learned about the use of the ‘Pomodoro technique’ to track time and to keep focused. Today we’ll look at the Kanban system.

Kanban system

This productivity tool is great for helping improve focus, and can also improve time awareness, prioritization, and organization.

It’s a multifaceted tool that takes its name from the Japanese word for ‘sign’ (kanban). The Kanban system comes from the world of Toyota car manufacturing, where managers introduced visual signs to increase production efficiency.

Kanban System

What does a Kanban system look like?

Kanban is a scheduling system that tracks the progress and ownership of tasks by moving cards through a series of columns.

Kanban Tasks System
  • Each task is represented on a card. Cards start their journey in the ‘backlog’ (or ‘to do’) column.

  • When you’re ready to begin working on a task, you move that card to the ‘doing’ column.

  • This simple action is at the heart of the Kanban System’s ability to generate focus. It’s an explicit agreement between you and your brain about the task you’ll be working on until you’re ready to move it into the glorious ‘done’ column.

Research shows the Kanban System is not just for teams.

Many of the productive people that LifeLabs Learning has studied had some version of a Kanban board. It can be a whiteboard or a digital tool. You may have used one in your team, but a personal Kanban board can be your own CCS.

If you’re not sure which tool in this course to use first, this is a great one to start with as it packs such a powerful productivity punch.

Wrapping Up

Your final mission is to get a feel for your workflow and try the Kanban system out

You can even go analog and simply create 3 post-it notes labeled: ‘to do’, ‘doing’, and ‘done’.

Next: Put it all together


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