Kanban Boards (or, I’ve Never Used so Many Post-Its in my Life)

Do you have a tendency to start a lot of projects, but rarely get them to the finish line? Is a “to-do/done” list not enough for you? then you might want to try making a kanban board.

Kanban‘ in Japanese translates to something like ‘visual card‘, which is exactly what this is about. Each task is written down on a (very literal) card, and put on a board so we can see on which part of the process it is right now. A basic kanban board would look like this:

This board is divided in 3 different sections: “To Do“, “Doing” and “Done“. If you use post-it notes for each card it’s really easy to move them around as you tackle each task. You can also add extra sections depending on your workflow, or use color coded notes to separate tasks…whatever works best for you!

Here’s an example of a kanban board I have at the office:

before you ask, SExtractor stands for ‘Source Extractor’. 

 Nothing fancy, just a bunch of post-its and some washi tape I put on the wall.

When I started this board I was using different colored post-its for different task categories: green tasks were programming, pink tasks were about collecting data, etc…it went well until I eventually ran out of green notes, while the pink note stack was almost full. Now I’m just going with whatever color I feel like using, I guess…

The cool thing about kanban boards is that they let you visualize your work pipeline at a glance, so you don’t lose track of your in-progress tasks. If you have a lot of notes under “Doing”, it means you should try finishing some of those before taking a new task from the “To Do” pile! and when it’s time to start a new task, just pick one from the “To Do” pile. Simple as that.

This system is often used for teams, too, so it’s easy to see what everyone in the team is up to. I haven’t tried it with a group myself, but maybe when the opportunity comes I’ll try to implement it… 😛

Now, if a physical board doesn’t fit your needs, you can do this online! Trello is a great website/app that lets you create your own boards and share them with other users. Here’s a board I just started for a comic I’m working on:

In this case I’ve made multiple columns for each step of my comic-making process. That way I know which pages need to be inked, colored, etc.

On their basic form, kanban boards don’t cover things like deadlines, task priorities, etc. – but you can find ways to add that on your own if you need it. For example, you can use different colors to show priority, and Trello comes with a deadline function and a calendar mode (I haven’t tried that one, though). After all, all of these methods are about taking what’s useful to you and changing things if necessary.

If you think this method might work for you, give it a try! It’s really easy and quick to set up, and it will also make your workspace look cool 😎✨ (if you do try it, I’d love to see pictures!)

  • Francisca U. Saavedra

    yo aprendí a usar trello en mi práctica profesional <3 era la cumbia, pero lo dejé y ahora uso post its en todo el escritorio (no es tan práctico si no es usado como un kanban), pero igual me sirve para no olvidar cosas :O