I really like the kanban. Before I had any idea what to call it I was using it. This was back in 2010 when I was a freelance web designer/developer. I had struggled with task management for some time, tried out all the different apps and computer based programs. From the nerdy command line tool Task Warrior to online task managers like Remember The Milk and Gmail’s often overlooked and underdeveloped Tasks feature. I had tried everything! The most successful I’d been with digital tools was a complex filter and labeling system in my Gmail inbox but it only worked for tasks generated by emails!
What finally worked was sticky notes on my wall. I fashioned a super simple system that moved tasks across the wall from the left to the right. It was a giant amateur kanban!
Now that I don’t have a home I need a more portable kanban. Lucky for me I carry around the perfect thing everywhere I go, a sketch book!
I really like using my sketchbook as a kanban because I can keep my notes, doodles, and tasks all in one place. I just recently used up the last pages of my previous sketchbook. It was the first one that I applied the kanban to. It was the beta test sketchbook + kanban. Now that I’ve learned a thing or two about what works I get to try sketchbook + kanban version 2! Here is the result:
This is the main kanban page. It sits at the back of the sketchbook and consists of three columns and some rows.
Left column: Current cycle column or Ready Column. This space is for all tasks I wish to complete in the current cycle. A cycle is typically a week or a month depending on my current work load and life style. I will get into the cycle process further down the page. This column is split into 5 rows, the top two are dedicated to self care and education. Any tasks that fall into these categories will live here. Under those are two flex rows. I’ve left space on the right to label them if need be. The grey row at the bottom is a flex space for overflow and tasks that come up mid cycle.
Center column: Now column. This is for the tasks I am currently working on and will work on next and soon there after. It holds the tasks I am currently doing.
Right column: Done column. Once a task is finished it will go into the corresponding done column. Note that it has that same row color scheme. At the end of every cycle I remove tasks from the done column and reflect on them.
If you are familiar with a typical ALC kanban you’ll surly notice that I’m missing a column, the backlog or possible or “ready” column where all my loose tasks live. I’ve decided to move that onto its own page. In my previous kanban (v.1) the possible task column really cluttered up the kanban with tasks that I might never even get to or were a long way from getting started. Now I keep all possible tasks on their own page, seen here:
I call this The Task Pen. Here’s how its all put together.
For this example I’ll be running weekly cycles. At the start of each week I clear out the done column and reflect on the tasks I’ve finished. Then I review any tasks left over in the ready or now column. I’ll either keep them in place or demote them back to the pen. Next I review the tasks in the pen and decide what I will try to complete this week. I move those tasks into the proper rows of the ready column thus setting my intentions for this week.
Each day I’ll review the ready column and move tasks into the now column which I will attempt to complete that day. Anything I don’t finish goes back to the ready column (or stays in Now for tomorrow).
As I go through the week if any new tasks come up I’ll add them to the current cycle or stick them into the pen.
That’s the basic general use kanban. Because I also do freelance projects from time to time I have dedicated project kanbans in my sketchbook as well. I’ll write up a post about them soon.
What’s your kanban like?
Not sure if drawing makes me better at listening, but here are some doodles I did (probably during some meetings)