I’m not sure if this is the right area to post or not, but I wanted to share a organizational system that has been working for me. Maybe some of you have used this system? A Kanban is a signboard that was originally used in Japanese manufacturing and is also used in software development. A version of the Kanban can be used in the home also. I hate “to-do” lists, but I like using my signboard. I like the visual aspect and moving the post-its is kinda fun.
All you need is a whiteboard, erasable marker, and post-it notes. Or just a piece of posterboard or a couple of 8 ½ “ sheets of paper taped together. Or even just a spare wall where you can tack up post-its.
Assemble your Kanban in a very visible area so you can look at it often. On the whiteboard, write TO DO, DOING, DONE in three columns. You can also call the columns other names like BACKLOG, WIP (Work in progress), COMPLETED. Some people use more steps/columns than this. You can customize it to your needs.
Make a list of tasks on post-its that you want to do and put them in the TO DO column. While you are working on a task, move the post-it to the DOING column. When it is finished, move the post-it to the DONE column. A key to the system is limiting the number of tasks in the DOING column. This is up to you, but 3 is a good number. That way, you do not have too many ongoing to overwhelm your brain. Limit your tasks as this is part of the system.
When you move a post-it to the DONE column, it is called “brain candy” because it gives your brain a happy feeling of accomplishment.
You can watch a slideshow here about setting up a personal Kanban from the authors who have written a book about it. It’s more about office tasks outside the home, but it works for everything. I found the slideshow is a little disjointed, but it gets the idea of the method across. (I have no affilation with the authors.)
I use my Kanban for routine tasks (I save and re-use the post-its) and also for projects. An absolute key for me is limiting the work-in-progress (my DOING) column. I don’t put all my tasks on the Kanban, but I do use it for a lot of things. It helps a lot. I can tell more about how I use it, but this has gotten way too long…
Just wanted to let others know in case it might help you with organization of tasks.
In my case (at home on maternity leave with DD 6m and DS 4.75y) I have lots of things in progress at once through the day like laundry in the washer, load of dishes soaking, etc. Would you be listing all of these really routine things or just projects? If I included them I'd easily have too many things in the Doing column at once (and I don't think the clothes in the washer are weighing on my mind that much).
Now the 3+ bags of too-big girls clothes bought recently half opened on a table in the rec room to sort to keep or sell that was started 2 weeks ago is kinda bugging me. I could see some benefit clutter-wise in finishing some things before being 'allowed' the fun part of starting too many other things (since often things look worse before they look better).
And when I think of my work style at the office I'm usually horrible at getting the last 5% of a project finished (the 'shred older drafts and old notes and set up file with final budget copy and put in filing cabinet' type of stuff - which is why there are piles on top of a cabinet still and I've been gone for 6 months. I'd definitely need more Doing items at work - so many things started and waiting for input from others). Will definitely need to give this some more thought. Thanks again.
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You can customize the Kanban to work with your needs. I really dislike doing the laundry (and sometimes forget it in the washer), so it's worth putting it on the Kanban for me. My post-it says "Laundry Loop" because I want to make myself do the whole process (wash, dry, fold, put away). So for me it doesn't count as "done" until the whole loop is completed because I need that extra push.
You could allow your "doing" or "work in progress" list to be bigger. I limit to 3-4 but maybe you could limit to 8, say. But the idea is that you SHOULD limit your work in progress and not have a bunch a unfinished projects going on. You want to finish, not have a lot in process. The "done" column also shows you what you are accomplishing, so if you leave too much out of it, you won't see all you have done. But I don't put everything I do on the Kanban. Some things I just do and don't bother with the whole post-it process. You could leave out the laundry on yours if that is something that you just do and don't need to monitor it.
Also, when you work with other people, there is usually a new column that you add. The authors call it "The Pen," (I think that's what they call it--don't have the book handy.) "The Pen" is where you put tasks that are waiting for a response from other people. Like if you left voicemail for the plumber and are waiting to hear back, you put the post-it in The Pen column. That way it does not clutter up your own work in progress column. Maybe you could put laundry in the The Pen area since you are waiting for the machine to finish.
One thing I do with routine tasks is to cut the post-it in half, so the "Laundry Loop" post-it is half the size. That way, it stands out to me as a routine task, and I can fit more of them on my board. You can also use different colors of post-its (like for routine and projects), but I just use whatever post-its I have around. I feel like using a lot of different colors would just be distracting and a way for me to mess around with my "system" without accomplishing more.
Anyway, hope that helps!
you could have a doing attended and doing unattended? stuff like laundry, dishes, breadmaking for part of it they are all unattended, and out of sight out of mind, and having a list of things that are happening with little to no input might be good as a seperate list?
Love this idea, definitely want to look into it more.
I've been using to do lists and for the most part they help me get things done but inevitably some things get pushed down the conveyor belt, keep getting pushed back, forever and ever and ever... (I read Total Workday Control by Michael Linenberger, found it very helpful)
I like the idea of limiting your works in progress, I need help focusing focus on finishing tasks rather than starting something new (and exciting) and having too many balls in the air.
I might try color coding too, I do a lot of work at home and it might help me see a better balance in home life vs. work tasks.
Thank you for the information!
very good idea ... i can visually see (and won't be able to push it out of my mind so easily ....) how many of my "to do tasks" are stuck in the middle column, sometimes for years .....
A couple other tips for using the Kanban that have helped me:
Use time-based tasks when possible. I have learned that it is better to have a post-it that says “10 minutes – kitchen” than “clean entire kitchen.”
Then you can spend 10 minutes on the kitchen and move the post-it to the DONE column. This is good for people with perfectionist tendencies. I try to use time-based tasks for cleaning and projects if it fits the job. Maybe your kitchen still needs more work . You can do it later, or even re-start that post-it again in an hour or whatever. But at least you got your “brain candy” for moving the task to DONE. A time-based post-it helps a lot. If you are a person who can deal easily with “clean kitchen” and not have it take forever, you can skip this tip! But time-based tasks work better for me, usually for cleaning or bigger projects.
Another benefit of this system is you can see from the Kanban which tasks you keep avoiding. Then you can make a decision about what you should do about these tasks. Maybe you should modify them or you could get serious and make yourself do them.
For example, awhile back, I decided that it would be best to do three 10-minute pickup sessions each day around the house. (Must train family better to put stuff away…) We have 3 floors in our house, so I figured that would work well. I put it on a post-it. However, after a couple weeks, I noticed that I rarely moved the “three 10-minute pick ups” post-it to DONE. It sat in the "doing" column or I never moved it at all from the "to do" column.
So I switched it to ONE 10-minute pickup. I actually accomplish that most days because it feels more do-able. I still think three sessions of 10 minutes would be ideal. But realistically, I was not doing it, even though I believed I should do it. I decided that one session would work fine. Because the Kanban is visual, you will see when post-it tasks are “stalled” and you can decide what to do about the issue.
Finally, always limit your work in progress. That is very important to the Kanban system. Plus you get more "brain candy" when tasks are moved to the DONE column.
just wanted to say " THANK YOU" and to share pictures
today, getting ready to go to school was much easier !!!!
here are the drawings
that DD1 did, which i photocopied so that each child could have his/her color
i scotch-taped a piece of knitting wool on the fridge & magnetic stickers can only moved left to right
IF the task is completed ....
am waiting for DD1 to draw something for brushing teeth
& am in the process of plastifying "put books away" & "pick up toys from floor"
Chatty Girl - 3/2006, Lovey Boy - 1/2010, Delicious Baby Girl - 1/2012
orange =>DD1 , 13
yellow => DS, 11
pink => DD2, 5
for the moment all tasks are identical
- get dressed
- put PJ in bed
- have breakfast
- clear table after breakfast
one that is still in the making is
- brush teeth
start of school was harder this year (school supplies/registering for sports ...) so haven't got round to plastifying
- put books away in bookshelf
- pick up toys and put toys away
what i like about it now, is that we can "customise"
years ago, DH spent 20 dollars, un-necessarily in my view, just before we left the US, on a wooden board with ready made magnetic counters
... but it didn't feel like ....it was "us"
& and also, DH has some trouble accepting that i set tasks to our children (something to do with his upbringing, his own history with his parents...)
so i felt silly we had spent that amount of money on something i didn't want (it's still under wrap, 4 years later) & which seemed all gimicky since we, as a family, had to work on us being comfortable with the PRINCIPLE of task giving, t was not just a matter of getting to play about with expensive little wooden counters (half of the tasks are not relevant to us & i feel there are too many ...)
these 4 tasks are morning tasks
i remove the pictures when all are at school and sometimes use them at week ends but not all the time
the book/toy tasks, am hopefully going to get about to create an evening routine at somet point in the near future ...
+ i also need to work on my feeling not so frustrated when i achieve far less than what i would like to !!!
Nice! I did a similar thing with my daughter when she had trouble getting ready for school, except I had a checklist with pictures. She loved it, and it really got her on track to get ready by herself.
I will definitely have a look at the Kanban idea for my home business. At any given time, I have projects in various categories (waiting for confirmation, translation in progress, translation finished but not proofed, proofing, final check, sent, etc.). I think it would be helpful to see that all in front of me at a single glance.
Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (15) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"
Yes, I love how visual this is,.
Love the 'brain candy' concept. It's good to acknowledge that those little confirmations are important.
And customizing is important, and giving yourself a break and be flexible when it doesn't work the first time.
Great thread, great concept. I'll look into it.
Ok, so I really don't have the supplies or space to set this up on a white board but really wanted to try Kanban.
So I went into the word program on my computer and created a document with columns and rows. In order to still have a nice large font and still fit it on the screen, I did 2 columns of "To Do"
This let me enter daily health reminders like "Drink Water" & "Eat Fruit" and daily chore reminders like "Dishes" & "Sweep Floor" as well as project type things like "15 minutes on tax receipts" & "Empty Bedroom" (we're switching rooms around) and reminders like "Call Accountant" & "Confirm workshop" & "Donation pickup on Thurs"
Adding the more mundane routine things would give me "brain candy" as I enter them into the Done column ~and let me know I was getting things accomplished -especially when it does not feel that way!
I am still keeping only 3-5 things in the "Doing" column
Then I can just cut and paste the item from the "To Do" and the "Doing" columns into the "Done" column-
For the daily chores, the next day I can cut them from "Done" and put back into "To Do"
It was actually fun to set up, add items and move things around lol
It may be less hands-on than the post-its and board, but it is still very visual and I can use different colors and sizes of fonts if I want to. Plus I won't waste time being a perfectionist in setting up an actual board- I could easily spend all my time on that and get nothing accomplished- btdt constantly
I am also on the computer alot, so it is easy to just keep the kanban minimized on the screen and then open it when reviewing or moving something to another column
Thanks again to the OP for introducing me to this concept!!
Thank you!!!! :-)
Thanks for the great ideas!
May I go way O/T to tell a funny, sort of related story?
Around 1950 or so, in an era pre-computer, pre-post-it, and (I promise, this is germaine) and pre-common-home-air-conditioner, my father ran a small import/export business. For his order tracking system, he had a huge world map on the wall, with little hooks at the location of each of his supplier factories, distributor/customers, and a few pictures of cargo ships in various oceans. When he placed an order with a factory in, say, Korea, he would hang the order slip on the Korea hook. When he received notification the order had been shipped, he would move the slip of paper to a boat in the Pacific. He had a hook at the customs office in San Francisco, and then another for the customer in Chicago. He would only file the papers when they were confirmed as received and accepted by the customer. At a glance, he could tell exactly where any shipment was. He probably had 200 slips of paper dangling from the map at any time. This was a fine system, until...
He had a part-time secretary, who stayed late one summer day, after he needed to leave. The office had gotten warm and stuffy (remember the no air conditioner part?), so she quite reasonably opened a window. Not giving it another thought, she left when her work was done.
Next morning, Dad got in to find a wind had picked up during the night, and blown every little slip of paper off its hook. Jillions of little slips of paper all over the floor, and absolutely no back-up tracking system.
I think post-its and a white board would have been an improvement to his system!
OK - you may now return to your regularly scheduled thread.
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)