Two weeks ago, I went to a workshop led by one of the founders of Agile Learning Centers (ALC). The workshop was focused on learning how to use agile management tools in support of self-directed learning. I’m in the process of starting an unschooling co-op, along with a group of other interested families. So I went to the workshop with “how can this help our co-op?” frame of mind. I’m not sure how (or if) we’ll use these tools at the co-op but I’ve already put one of them to work on our own house!
Agile management comes out of Toyota’s management style in its factories in Japan. (At least that’s my understanding. I’m no expert on the topic.) In the ALCs, they use these tools in the service of helping kids manage their own learning. I’ve started using one of those tools, the Kanban board, to help me manage my house!
Basically, you just write your tasks on sticky notes and then use four columns, “Possible, Soon, Now, Done,” as a way to organize what to do and when. It’s pretty much just a to-do list but the visual/kinesthetic aspect of it has been really invigorating for me.
After my first day, I added a bit of color coding. Now I use blue for digital tasks and yellow for what I need to do around the house/yard.
The guy who trained us told us that ideally you should only have one task in the now column at any one time because multi-tasking is inherently inefficient. I can see how that might be true in some situations but I have many days when I legitimately have to be juggling many things at once (particularly on days when I’m cooking/baking, doing laundry, and cleaning.) Having the visual of seeing what’s in my “Now” column at any given time has helped me to feel less like I’m juggling too many balls in my head and more like I’m smoothly working through my day.
What mine looked like a few days ago (note “Blog Kanban boards” in blue in the now column. Ha! Also, note that I’m saving/reusing lots of my Post-its now [off to the left], which makes the process easier.) I pretty much move “sew” from “soon” to “now” and back to “soon” every day! Even if I don’t actually get to sewing on any given day, it makes me happy to think about the possibility of doing so. 🙂
We all have Kanban boards. Ellie and Marko use theirs sporadically, more just for fun and to be like Mama and Baba than anything else. Nik is using his to manage the things that he wants to do at home (but not when thinking about work related stuff).
Mark wants us to draw his pictures for him but Ellie has had fun drawing her own. Can you guess what this one is? (I’ll put the answer at the end of the post.**)
I’m on week three of using the Kanban board and am already thinking about how to make a more permanent, more environmentally friendly board for myself. I need to refine the system for sure to help it serve me better but I’m so pleased with what I can do with it already!
**That’s Ellie’s about to get dressed, next to her dresser. Love it!!