My Own Personal Kanban Board

by | Jan 14, 2016 | 0 comments

personal kanban title image

For a while now, I’ve been trying out different ways of remembering things. It’s not that I forget things, I tend not to, I just like the feeling of comfort you get from knowing that everything important is written down somewhere. Equally, if someone accuses you of forgetting something, it’s nice to have a list to refer back to to check whether you did, or if they themselves are misremembering. Not that lacking trust in others like that is a good thing for agile, but we don’t yet live in an agile world…

The other thing I like written records for is to get a sense of how much I have to do, and for breaking down what may be big tasks into smaller units of work. So then, anyone familiar with the idea of a kanban board will get where I’m heading with this. In an old job, we had no way of doing anything remotely like a kanban board, so I actually built a half functional one in Excel. If you fancy making using of it, you can download it here. It’s not great, but it’s better than nothing when you have no other option.

Since then, I’ve been using Trello for running a kanban board for all the things I have to do. I like Trello a lot. It’s free, it’s simple yet functional and it’s online, so you can use it for collaborating with others when you’re no co-located. However, the problems I’ve been finding with it on a personal level are that it’s become very ignorable. I generally have loads of tabs open on my browser, one of which will be Trello, and with that many tabs open, the Trello tab is pretty easy to forget about. It’s also always there, and I’m not sure about the idea of having a work based to do list constantly part of my computer when I’m taking some down time.

So, today I took arrival of a decent size whiteboard, so I can start running my own personal kanban board, one that’s true to the meaning of the word kanban; ‘signboard’ or ‘billboard’ in Japanese. Here it is…

kanban board

I’ve decided to go for just four columns on it, backlog, in progress, blocked and done. Having a QA column seemed extraneous, as it’s only me QA’ing things on this board, so I’ll take things from in progress straight to done. I’ve not populated it with post it notes yet, but that’ll happen soon, and absurd as it may seem, I’m going to try getting into the rigour of doing my own daily stand up in front of it too. Not entirely the point of a stand up I know, but it feels like a good bit of discipline to do to make sure I actually keep on using it and keep on getting things delivered.

I’ll post again later to let you know how it’s working out for me. In the meantime, if you fancy having a go yourself, here’s the whiteboard I bought on Amazon. Just under £11 at the time of writing, and whilst it’s more pine than oak, and thinner rather than sturdier, it does the job of being a kanban board just fine I reckon.

If you do give it a go, or do this sort of thing already, do let me know how it’s working out for you in the comments below.

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About The Author

Gez Smith is an agile communications coach, trainer, author and speaker, and is also the author of ‘Agile Marketing: The Incomplete Guide‘.