Revisiting personal kanban

24 October 2014

Back in 2010, I discovered personal kanban , a system of visual task management that I used for awhile. In a nutshell, I divided a large whiteboard into three sections, Backlog, Doing, and Done. Then I’d use Post-It® notes to write down individual tasks and move them through the process.

It worked nicely for me for a few months, but the lack of portability was problematic and my tasks outgrew the Backlog section. So I switched to something else.

Since then, I’ve starting using electronic task management. At the moment I’m using TeuxDeux. (See my recent post, Getting back to basics with task management for more info on that).

Last week, I started to feel a little overwhelmed by the things I needed to get done. When that happens, I tend to avoid looking at my task list, which is obviously counterproductive.

So I decided to do a short-term, small-scale implementation of personal kanban. I took a clear clipboard from my office-supply closet and used purple Scotch Expressions Tape to divide it into three sections. I then wrote the tasks I needed to accomplish on small Post-Its (one per Post-It). I tried to keep just one task in the doing column. Before I knew it, i was moving plenty of tasks to the right-hand Done column.

Here’s a photo of the board.

Using a kanban clipboard to stay on top of tasks

I’ve become rededicated to the idea of selecting three or four tasks each night to focus on the next day. And I’m also selecting my blog post topic each night and putting it on the kanban clipboard for the next morning. Having these tasks on the clipboard allows me to easily focus on them, adding more from my TeuxDeux list as the tasks move there way to the Done section.

I see this as sort of a back up measure for the days I’m feeling overwhelmed or unable to focus on my larger task list. The fact that it’s in my face (rather than tucked away on my phone or in another tab on my browser) is very helpful right now.

I’m a fan of switching up task-management techniques when they start getting stale. Right now, this is working nicely for me!

Tagged with: , , , , ,


Have you looked at or tried Trello? It’s a kanban style project management website. It also has apps for the iPhone and Android. It has “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards. You add your tasks on cards that you can drag around (at least you can drag them using the website. I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t really work for me, but it sounds like it might be something that would work for you.

And it’s free!

Joan 11/07/2014 06:24 PM

Thanks for sharing this. I think this would work for me so long as I kept the To Do list to 4 maximum. My problem is my to do list is huge and with some tasks a bit difficult to be specific. I do get overwhelmed with it.

Nan Bailey 09/26/2016 07:10 PM

Add your comment


Your email address will not be displayed or distributed.

You may use Textile formatting including:

  • _italics_ = italics
  • *bold* = bold
  • "text":url = text

About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

read more »

Recommended *

  • NAPO Golden Circle

  • Getting to Good Enough podcast