How to boost your productivity with a Kanban and Scrum hybrid

I have a confession to make. I’m a productivity geek. I love to learn about Lean, Theory of Constraints, Kanban, Agile, Scrum, and all of the hybrids of these out there.

But what I love more than any of this is creating and perfecting my own productivity tracking system.

I have yet to find the perfect system, but with Cardsmith, I can set up a system that I think will work for me now, and then when it needs a tweak, I can easily change my method.

And, the best thing is that I don’t have to stick with any one method!

Currently, I’m using a bit of a hybrid between a Personal Kanban Board (with backlog, doing, & done columns) and a timeboxing approach of planning a fixed amount of work for my week. I’m planning weekly “sprints” where I have prioritized the next highest items to be done this week.

I call my Board a Scrumban board because I’ve ideas from Kanban and ideas from Scrum. From each of these methodologies, I’ve kept what works for me and dropped what is not useful. I think when you are looking at a methodology, any methodology, it is important to consider the reason for each component and make sure you are not implementing a process where you don’t have the same need.

Here’s what I get from the Kanban inspired parts:

  1. The ability to get ideas and possible future tasks out of my head, and into a backlog or ideas column on my Cardsmith board.
  2. The ease of re-prioritizing tasks in the ‘Do Next’ column.
  3. The focus to just work on one thing at a time.
  4. Swimlanes to manage multiple projects or areas of my life and work.

You can read more about Personal Kanban HERE

Sample Kanban board:

Here’s what I get from the Scrum side of things:

  1. A regular reflection time, known as a retrospective. I do this weekly.
  2. Goal setting. Without my “This week” column, I’d be pure Kanban and, for me at least, there would be less pressure to keep moving quickly within the week. With a team Kanban, a project manager would use velocity metrics to measure the speed of the team, but I don’t have time for that, nor would it make sense for my personal world.
  3. Capacity Management. By not overloading my upcoming weekly sprint, it forces me to better prioritize and also set a reasonably challenging amount of work for the upcoming week.
  4. Accountability. By making sure I focus on and do that tasks I’ve set for myself weekly, and using the retrospective I ensure I have some accountability to myself or my accountability partner.
  5. Also, without the weekly reflection and planning session, I’m too tempted to constantly be reprioritizing my backlog when I have time to pull in a new task. Rethinking and prioritizing daily or more causes decision fatigue, at least for me.

Sample Scrum Board:

My Productivity Board in Cardsmith “Scrumban” combining Scrum and Kanban:

I use Rows in the Grid view of Cardsmith to categorize my tasks by business or personal. The colors add another visual element for the same thing. Orange cards are my Cardsmith tasks. This isn’t technically necessary, but the colors make me happy, so I use them.

I chose to separate out the Backlog into “Backlog” which are seriously things I should do, and “Ideas” which is the dumping ground for my brain, and all the other ideas everyone is feeding me. This is where the “Have you thought about doing Youtube ads?” stuff goes. Typically things move from Ideas to Backlog, but often new cards just go immediately into Backlog. Sometimes I hide the Ideas column if I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Throughout the week, I look at the “This Week” column and focus on getting these tasks done. I love to use the check mark icon to indicate when something is done. I find this very motivating.

After my weekly retrospective, I move completed cards into “Done (Month)”. I keep 1 column per month and I hide the past months on my board as a way of archiving them.

So there you have it. That’s how I’m currently managing my time and tasks.

But, the point isn’t to prescribe my board to you. Maybe you’ll get a small tip here, or get inspired by something I’ve said, but you are the expert in how to manage your own time, not me.

So create your own Cardsmith Board, and make it your own.

Customize Your Productivity Board!


Originally published at blog.cardsmith.co on May 25, 2017.

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