How to Survive the Festive Season with Kanban

By Don't Panic
How to Kanban Your Christmas

It’s December, and ‘tis the season to be festive, whether you celebrate Christmas or just take some time off to spend with family, friends and loved ones. However you choose to spend your festive season, sometimes it comes with a little extra stress: bigger groups of people, crowded shopping centres, tight work deadlines, financial pressure, and family obligations can make December one of the most stressful months of the year. You might think we’re kidding, but handling this challenge with a more agile mindset can help smooth things over. Here are 10 ways to use Kanban to make your Christmas and festive season easier. 

Organise your Christmas gifts 

If you and your family and friends give gifts over the festive season, this can start to feel like an expensive, complicated task - and you want to make sure you don’t leave anyone important off your list! A simple Kanban board is a great way to streamline this task. Create a list of people you need to get a gift for on a Kanban board, with columns for each step. Move them along the board as you decide what to buy, purchase the gifts, and wrap them. 

 Christmas gift Kanban Board.

Reduce waste 

One of the key principles behind Kanban is to reduce waste. In its original context, this meant using visual signals to indicate customer demand, and let the production floor know what supplies were needed. But waste can be thought of as anything that does not add value to your final product or goal. In the context of Christmas, this could mean using Kanban for shopping to ensure you only buy the necessary supplies, rather than doubling up due to a lack of clear communication. It also reduces the mental load on those who are usually overburdened at Christmas time (which is arguably the best gift you could give!) Kanban boards give you a clear, visual, centralised idea of everything that needs to be bought, done, or planned. This makes it easy for any member of the household to pick up a task and complete it without having to wait for instruction from someone else. 

Be more flexible 

In Kanban, all the information about a project - like Christmas dinner, gift shopping, planning a trip, or whatever else you might be doing during the festive season - is easily available, but also easy to reshuffle. Sudden changes can be highly stressful when you’re at capacity in terms of mental load. For instance, if your distant aunt invites herself over for Christmas at the last minute, you might feel overwhlemed and unsure where to begin changing arrangements. With a Kanban Christmas project in place, you can simply take a look and adjust the tasks that might be affected, without having to do all the math in your head. 

Collaborate on cooking 

A big feast - or feasts - forms a big part of the December vibe for many people. But anyone who’s ever tried to take the lead on a Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner party knows that it’s not as simple as you’d think. Using a Kanban board, you’re able to allocate tasks and keep everything on a shared record, so that everyone is able to help where they can, and nothing slips through the cracks. Share the load and you’ll find everyone has a much better time! 

Christmas dinner family

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Share tasks so nobody feels overloaded

Kanban makes it really easy to visualise the responsibilities and workload involved. This makes it really easy to see who is available to help out, and who might have too much to handle by themselves. There are few things as healthy for your relationships as allowing everyone to take ownership of what you do together, be accountable for what they’re bringing to the table, and share the load so that there’s nobody who feels overloaded. 

Be transparent

Kanban is about more than an efficient and dynamic to-do list. It’s about transparency, and allowing everyone involved in a project to have full access to all the moving parts. The clear advantage here, both in the workplace and in the home, is that it places everyone in equal standing and helps to remove points of tension that come about through lack of communication. Kanban also emphasizes the importance of explicit policies: there should be clear common goals with rules of engagement. When everyone agrees that what they’re doing is useful and helps contribute towards a goal, they’re a lot more enthusiastic to be involved. 

Plan a trip

Many people love to take a trip during the December holidays, whether it’s a quest to see snow, a beach vacation to escape the cold weather, or a little road trip to your home town. You can plot your itinerary on a Kanban board, and make lists of everything you need to get done beforehand - from travel documents and currency exchange to packing and bookings. It’s also a great way to split the load: you can assign tasks to your fellow travellers and keep a record of everything, to make sure the trip comes off without a hitch.  

December Road Trip

Photo by Jessie Crettenden from Pexels

Plan next year’s goals 

A Kanban board is a really fun way to set out your personal goals for the next year. You can add pictures, colours, and motivational quotes if you want to, or even deadlines, depending how seriously you take your goals and what tools you’re using. 

Make the kids’ tasks fun and visual

If you have kids, getting them to do chores during their school break can be a challenge. Add some colourful sticky notes, pictures, and break things down into simple, easy-to-complete parts, and kids can get really enthusiastic about helping out. You can also tie in a reward system to help keep things on track. Since the system is visual, it can also help neurodivergent kids out a lot, and they’ll easily understand what’s expected of them. 

Encourage self-organisation and ownership

One of the greatest parts of Agile frameworks, and Kanban specifically, is that it encourages self-organisation and ownership. Just like healthy leadership manages flow, not people, a healthy family knows what needs to be done and is able to take responsibility for tasks of their own accord, without having to be controlled. 

Curious about Kanban? Try our online Kanban Foundations course, designed to help you understand the practices and principles of Kanban.