Kanban Uechi (Kanban, Evernote and the Martial Arts Practice)




I’ve been practicing Uechi Ryu for many years now, and because I’m a busy person I’m always challenged with finding the time to fit in practicing at home. Because I’m a productivity geek, I’d love to find a way to maximize my practice and really make progress in my karate.

Last week I came across the Kanban personal productivity method, which focuses on the two concepts of visualizing your work and limiting your work in progress (see ). The purpose is to improve your work flow, and the main tool is a visualization board divided into the categories of To Do, Doing, and Done. This way, you can see your tasks moving from left to right, and only focus on the one in the middle.

Here’s mine:

I’d previously used a 5×8 hardcover Moleskine notebook (their Wellness journal) for my Uechi Ryu practice. I had a separate section for each kata, and every time I got a comment I’d jot it in. The problem with this was that in order to make sure I’d remember to bring the notebook to karate class, I’d leave it in my gi bag and never actually use it as a training tool — instead relying on my memory for the latest comments. Also, I’ve got too many notebooks. I got to thinking that I really wanted to simplify my life and reinvigorate my Uechi practice. Really, what I needed was a simple input system for in-class comments that would be genuinely useful as a way to practice at home. Ideally, it would integrate with the other systems I’m already using (Evernote, Zendone, and the glorious Erin Condren Planner).

In an amazing strike of synchronicity, I discovered the personal Kanban method on the same day I was playing around with Evernote and trying to come up with a good reason to use their new Post-it notes. The post-it notes work with the Evernote camera: when you take a picture of one, Evernote will crop the note and send it to the notebook with which you’ve previously told it to associate that color. How awesome is that? Yet, I couldn’t think of a really good use for them. Then I did.

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m using the post-it notes during class to write comments on, then when I’m done, I take a picture of the notes so they sort into my Evernote Karate notebook. Later, I’ll tag them with the specific kata they refer to and To Do, or Doing, depending on whether it’s something I feel I can work on at the moment or would be better off saving for later. Then, I go home and stick the post-it notes up on my board, so I can see them while I practice. Even better, I can search my karate notes for words such as stance, or circle block, so that I can see whether I’ve gotten comments on specific things or if something applies across many kata.

Because I’d like a good way to carry the post-it notes around, I’ve modified a cheapo pocket calendar that I found at Joanne Fabric. It holds a Sharpie and two sets of Post-it notes and fits in my purse. I’m using the pink for karate and the yellow for for my inbox.