If you are already using Personal Kanban or another kanban system, you are likely at least thinking about limiting your work-in-progress (WIP). You are likely finding that challenging.
We know that the more work we take on, the more our brains’ resources are taxed. That tax limits our ability to focus, to process, and to complete quality work. We want to limit our work-in-progress so that we can finish quickly and with quality.
One thing to remember is that if it were easy to limit WIP, we’d all be doing it already. Limiting WIP is challenging in a world filled with demands and distractions. Often we’ll be watching our Personal Kanban and, as long as there’s three things in DOING, we’ll feel pretty good about ourselves.
Then, one day, we’ll catch ourselves working on something that isn’t in DOING and we’ll realize … oh no, I have hidden WIP.
Hidden WIP is that work you do all the time that you don’t tell your board about.
So it’s helpful once a week to sit down and write down your WIP. Simply write down everything you are really doing right now. Write down everything you are currently working on or is making you think. (You may be starting tasks before you pull them). See what that real load is. If you work with a team or manage them, sit down and do this with the team.
You’ll be surprised at how much work you are actually taking on.
I can’t stress how important this is even for experienced kanban users. I visit teams and counsel individuals regularly who are overloaded with work and have very nice WIP-limited Personal Kanban boards. Their hidden WIP is killing them.
So, sit down, write down your real WIP and do something about it.