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Using the Kanban Method for Organizing and Managing Schoolwork

We know that organizing school work, work, and life can get overwhelming. There are a million different methods to staying organized. Especially with most schools turning toward a hybrid style, students have had more tasks loaded on, more stress, and less time to do it all. So how can you be successful in managing a larger workload? Sure, you’ve heard the generic solutions: get a planner, make a list, and so on, but without some type of method to your madness, your lists will just be lists and your planner won’t do you any good sitting there, collecting dust! If you haven’t already heard, there’s a fantastic solution to getting your school work organized to manage your school workload, and it’s tried and true! Kanban doesn’t really have any rules, just basic guidelines: visualize your tasks at hand and limit your current tasks, so you don’t become overwhelmed.

Kanban Guidelines: Visualize Your Tasks at Hand

Sticking to the aforementioned guidelines is not a necessary step in the process of starting your personal Kanban, but it is helpful. Visualizing your tasks at hand is the first guideline. The main purpose of Kanban is to have all of your to-dos, doings, and dones all in one place. At any given time, you should be able to know where you stand with your school work. This means not just keeping a mental note of what work you need to complete, but actually writing down the assignments you’ll need to complete, their priority compared to others, and being able to see it, change it, and feel the accomplishments associated with being so productive!

Setting up your Personal Kanban

Your personal Kanban can be anything you want it to be. To set it up, you’ll only need to draw three columns. The first column is where your “To-Do” tasks go, followed by your “Doing” tasks and your “Done” tasks. The columns are mostly straight-forward: the tasks in your to-do column are your projects, homework, or other schoolwork that you need to get done at some point, but you have them on the back burner for now. The tasks in your doing column are the tasks you are actively working on and are your number one priority at the moment. The tasks in your done column are...done.

Most students implementing a personal Kanban use a whiteboard, dry erase markers, and sticky notes. Sticky notes are a great option because they’re easy to move around, you don’t have to continuously rewrite your tasks, and they come in an assortment of colors, so you can prioritize your tasks by color. For example, green sticky notes could mean it’s a low priority assignment; you have a while to complete it, but it still needs to be completed at some point. Yellow could represent a medium priority, and red could represent a top priority assignment that you need to complete immediately.

Obviously, it’s a personal Kanban for a reason: you can find an app to help organize your schoolwork, you can use a piece of paper and a pencil, or a whiteboard and sticky notes. However you decide to get started is up to you, but a Kanban style organization is a perfect method to keep all of your schoolwork organized. Once you begin organizing your assignments in columns, you won’t be able to stop!

Kanban Guidelines: Setting a Limit to your Work in Progress

Another guideline is to keep your work in progress limited. Burnout is easy to experience when you’re going to school: you wake up early in the morning, attend school, participate in extracurricular activities, and then go home and do more school work. When you’re doing so much and not limiting the work you’re doing, it can, and most likely will, result in burnout.

By setting a strict limit to the amount of tasks allowed in your “to-do” and “doing” columns, you can prevent that burnout! For example, only allowing yourself to work on 4 assignments at a time and only allowing 6 to-do tasks will stop you from spreading yourself so thin. Often, when you’re spread too thin, your assignments suffer as a result. Because you aren’t allowing yourself enough time to work on the assignments before attempting to complete another task, quality work isn’t put into each assignment. That’s not the goal of the Kanban organization method. Kanban is a useful tool to help visualize, organize, and manage the workload from your school work. It can also be beneficial later down the road in your careers. Implementing it now can result in better work quality, better time management, and an overall organized style for your schoolwork.

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