One System to Help You Remain Focused

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

  1. Do you have tons of work to do and find it difficult to stay focused?
  2. Do you want to achieve your objectives consistently?
  3. Do you get distracted easily by coworkers, social media, etc. ?
  4. Do you like visual things or visual workplace?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, there is a system you can easily try out.

I really liked the concept of using Post-it notes and was searching online for ways to apply it. I found out about Personal Kanban. I have been using Personal Kanban for some time and found it very useful for me to stay focused.

The concept is simple. You move the post-it notes from Left to Right. On the table shown above, you move the sticky notes from the ‘To-Do’ column to the ‘Today’ column, then from the ‘Today’ column to the ‘Doing’ column, from the ‘Doing’ column to the ‘Done’ column. Under each of the columns, you place the highest priority post-it note on the top and continue from there onwards.

I took two flip chart sheets and created these columns. I placed them prominently on the wall, where these charts will be directly in front of me. Below is the explanation for each of the columns:

Goals: You can have two sub-columns under this goals column. The first sub-column is for short-term goals (3 months, 6 months, etc.) and the second sub-column is for goals that are due this month. The goals column is for things that are critical to you. Limit it to 3-5 goals. Each goal is written on a sticky note. These are typically lag measures.

Actions: These are tasks that will help you achieve your critical goals or get you to the future state; maximum of 2-3 tasks per goal. Each task is written down on a sticky note. These could typically be your lead measures.

To-Do: List out all the tasks that you currently have on your plate. These include the tasks related to your goals, urgent problems that have popped up recently, etc; maybe you can have a different colored post-it note for work, personal tasks, etc.

At the bottom, you can have your sticky notes listing the to-do tasks that you delegated (Waiting on Others) to other people for completion. You can also include due dates on these post-it notes to serve as a reminder or follow up.

Today: Start your day by prioritizing the top 3 to 5 things you will work on today. This involves picking up the post-it notes from the ‘To-do’ column and moving it to the ‘Today’ column.

Doing: As you are ready to begin working on a ‘Today’ task, move that sticky note from the ‘Today’ column to the ‘Doing’ column.

Done: As you complete the ‘Doing’ task, move the same post-it note from the ‘Doing’ column to the ‘Done’ column.

If you wanted a digital solution for your Personal Kanban board, you can consider using Trello ( There is a free version available.

About the author:

Muthuraman Annamalai

Muthuraman Annamalai

Process Improvement, Quality, Auditing, Leadership, Organization Culture, Project Management, Lean Six Sigma

Muthuraman is a passionate Quality and Process Improvement Professional, with nine years of work experience. He has a proven track record for demonstrating strong leadership skills within the organization and at professional organizations. Muthuraman strongly believe in lifelong learning. He has been selected as one of the “Fresh Faces” (New Generation of Quality Leaders under 40 years) on the ASQ Quality Progress Magazine.

Copyrighted Material: Article and graphics have been produced with permission from the author. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.


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