How Kanban Methodology can be the lifeline to people with ADHD?

First of all, let’s start with defining what the ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is briefly. We will afterwards try to explain why Kanban Board (or Scrum Board) can be a simple and maybe one of the most effective tools to help people with this condition.  ADHD is a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD often begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood. It may contribute to low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and difficulty at school or work.

Symptoms include limited attention and hyperactivity. This high level ADHD definition should be good enough for the purpose of this article. There are literally thousands of articles on the Internet about what the ADHD is, symptoms and treatment methods, and further information can be obtained from other sources who have credible expertise in this condition. Our purpose here is not to write a medical article about ADHD but, to explain relevance between ADHD and how Kanban or Scrum methodologies, generally speaking visual Agile Management practices, and how it can be an effective solution to ease the lives of people with ADHD.

As described above briefly, people with ADHD may find it difficult to prioritize the tasks and focus on them. They especially get overwhelmed when the amount of tasks on their plate increases and this triggers their stress and anxiety levels, obviously it makes the things worse. This condition leads them to become poor planners. Disorganization, difficulty with prioritization, problem focusing on tasks, poor planning is among the common symptoms of this condition. This is exactly where Agile Management comes in handy and may provide a lifeline to people with this condition. Regardless you have ADHD or not, by the way, many adults with ADHD are not aware they have it, the Kanban or Scrum methodologies will improve all of these aspects in your life, because this is fundamentally what Kanban is for.  So, how will Kanban Board improve these aspects of my life? Let’s go a bit deeper.

 

How does Kanban work and how does it actually help to overcome challenges caused by ADHD?

 

Makes it visual

Kanban boards create a visual representation for something that otherwise isn't visual at all. It's also interactive because you have to move the cards as you finish different stages of work. This particularly provides a great value for people with ADHD condition, because basically the visual board will work for them non-stop. In other words, visual board will consciously and unconsciously keep reminding them what they need to do next. This visualization aspect of Kanban board will decrease the stress level on people with ADHD as it relieves them from making plans. Remember, people with ADHD are poor planners, and your plan was already made and staring you on your board! How cool is that?

 

 

Helps with prioritizing

 

There is not too much to explain here probably. One of the main values that Kanban Boards provide is to prioritize tasks, this is the most well-known aspect of Kanban Boards, or in general Agile Management. It breakdowns the work into smaller pieces and prioritize them. So, basically you put less critical or non-urgent activities on Back Log, and chose the ones that need to be done first, and they go under your To-Do column. This is how you prioritize your tasks in a nutshell on a Kanban Board.

 

 

 

 

Helps with focusing on doable amount of tasks

 

One of the most common symptoms of ADHD is getting overwhelmed as result of the feeling that there is too much to do on their plate (regardless it is the reality!), and they cannot cope with the stress that this feeling causes. Apparently Kanban can provide another value at this point since Kanban methodology allows practitioners to choose the amount of work they are committing to. Basically there is no rule around how many tasks you can choose to do. It is ok to take on one task and that becomes your sprint. So, there is nothing else to worry about until you get that one task done. I am not advising to take one task in one sprint, I am just saying that there is nothing wrong with doing it in that way if that makes in your particular case. You can always choose the amount of tasks in different sprints, meaning, you can start with one task in the beginning and gradually increase to higher numbers in the subsequent sprints as your confidence increases and find your fine balance to see what you can commit to.   

 

Overall, it reduces the stress of people with ADHD condition

 

It really does! Basically Kanban Board does not do any special magic for people with ADHD, it does what normally it is supposed to be doing. However, the whole point is that there is a good match between what really Kanban Boards do to help people and what people with ADHD are facing certain difficulties due to the condition they have. They marry each other well! If you, or a loved one have this condition, Kanban can be the simplest and most effective solution, and you would not lose anything for trying it!

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Author: Yan Ozturk