Kanban for Students: Japanese Time Management for Teens

Japanese Time Management for Teens

Nowadays, it seems like students in any level are faced with an overwhelming list of things to do: from exams and homework to college essays and reviews. In fact, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that students spend almost 4 hours a day studying. Surprisingly though, students who spend more than 20 hours a week studying don’t always get the grades that they aim for.

Why is that?

Well, the short answer is: they’re not studying efficiently.

It’s not about the amount of time you spend studying, but how you spend that time. Taking on too many tasks at any given moment stresses a person out, making them less susceptible to learning. The best way to avoid this is to use a system that effectively organizes your tasks and helps you accomplish them. One of the best management systems for this is the Kanban System.

What is Kanban?

kanbanThe word Kanban (看板) comes from the Japanese language and its literal meaning is a “billboard” or a “signboard”. At its core, Kanban is a work flow system and it was originally designed to increase the efficiency of workers in the manufacturing industry. It was designed by Toyota industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno in order to maximize the amount of output their factory can do in a day.

The Kanban system takes its name from the signboards that the factory uses to track production. As such, it is still known as the “Toyota nameplate system” in the automotive and manufacturing industries. This system became an important indispensable tool in manufacturing and has often been cited as one of the most efficient systems to promote output, improve quality, and increase productivity.

How it Works

Kanban works by using a series of boards or cards that help you manage work flow. For students, Kanban can be used to keep track of all schoolwork, from assignments and essay to review books and quizzes. Kanban helps you accomplish all these tasks by separating them into three categories:

Unfinished Tasks Current Tasks Completed Tasks

While different students might have different headings, or even a different chart, the idea behind it remains the same. The goal of Kanban in the manufacturing industry is to limit excess tasks and maintain efficiency. For students, Kanban can be used to limit the number of things you need to do now, which prevents you from being overwhelmed.

Students can use Kanban to list down all the tasks they need to do for the day, then move individual items one at a time during the study process. This helps you remain organized because you can see what your progress is every step of the day, while helping you keep track of all your responsibilities and breaking them up into smaller and easily-accomplishable tasks.

Applying Kanban to Your Studies

Applying Kanban to Your StudiesOne of the key benefits of the Kanban system is that it’s very visual. This is crucial because our brains recognize and process visual data 60,000 more efficiently than written data, and with 90% of the information we receive throughout the day is visual, Kanban can help organize and increase the efficiency of how we process everything.

The first thing you need to get started on a Kanban system is a board. This will help you keep track of all your tasks. For this, you can use:

  • A chalkboard or a white board
  • A poster-sized piece of paper
  • A corkboard where you can tack on paper notes
  • An electronic Kanban app

You can also consider using cloud storage and management apps like EverNote. This gives you the added advantage of storing your data digitally, making it last longer and making it accessible to you outside of your room. However, physical boards have the advantage of being very visible and visually arresting, constantly reminding you of the tasks at hand.

Whatever board you decide, make sure it’s something that you enjoy using and something that you will use constantly. Consistency and discipline are key to the Kanban system and can greatly help you in your studies.

Using Kanban

The Kanban system can be applied to single tasks, or multiple tasks. For example, if your task is to do an essay, you can break down the steps into the following:

Unfinished Tasks Current Tasks Completed Tasks
Write Conclusion Write Body Write Outline
Proofread
Edit

Alternatively, it can also be used to organize multiple tasks, for example:

Unfinished Tasks Current Tasks Completed Tasks
Do Calculus Homework Study for Math Finals Write Essay

To start using the Kanban system, do the following:

  • Kanban systemDecide on which type of board to use. It can be a physical board or an online app, but make sure it’s something that you’ll use regularly and something that you are comfortable using
  • List all your tasks for the day and write it down, but don’t try to fit everything on the board, just put the most important things. This will help you in decision-making and recognizing critical tasks.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself! Work on one task at a time and move the tasks from one column to the other once you are done.

School is such an important part of every person’s life, not just because it teaches them crucial skills they’ll need in adulthood, it also provides the basis of how they socialize with other people. With the Kanban system, students can learn early on how to balance their work with their social life, helping them become holistically developed adults.

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