I have used a set of text files to keep track of my work. This personal system have been in use for many, many years and it has really served me well! How this is used is maybe a topic for another blog post. However, I have been thinking of starting using an online Kanban tool for my work for quite some time, but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Not until now.
Personal Kanban in general
There is a book called ”Personal Kanban” by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry that pretty much tells everything there is to know about how to use Kanban on a personal level, focusing on two of Kanban’s core practices: Visualize your work & Limit your work-in-progress (WIP). The book helps you get priority, productivity and efficiency into your work and personal life. If you want to know more you can visit this web site.
Personal Kanban in Favro
Finally I let go of my text files and took the step over to a visual tool, and I have chosen Favro. How did I end up with the board layout that you have seen in the picture above? Let me try to explain in a step by step tutorial.
Favro has something they call collection, basically it is an ”empty space” where you can add other elements. This is how it looks right after you have created a collection.
Let’s create a board on the collection by using the ”(+)”-icon up in the left corner. First I added five columns, one for each day in a working week.
This could be enough, depending on your needs. However, I have added two more columns: ”Next week(s)” where I put work I don’t complete during the week and ”Done”, where I move fully completed work.
Favro has an element called Backlog that works as a list of things (cards) to do. From the backlogs, cards are moved onto boards. I have not used this feature that much myself, so I will leave it for now.
Sometimes you need to do urgent work (things that you don’t have planned for in advance). To not ”mess up” the regular planned work, I have added a ”Fast lane”. Note that there is only two columns in this board: ”Doing” and ”Done”. Why? You should plan for urgent work and if the only work you do is urgent, you don’t really have control over your situation and work load.
The opposite to the fast lane is the ”Slow lane”. Here you can have work you can do if you have time left. If work in the ”Slow lane” doesn’t get done, there is no big harm.
The ”Personal Kanban”-collection is now complete to start using!
Weekly planning – Meetings
At the first day of the week I do my weekly planning. First I add all my meetings as cards in the ”Regular lane”. Why? Don’t I have my meetings in the Calendar? Well, yes I do and I agree it can feel a bit cumbersome, but I want to see all the things that I have to do in a working day in a complete picture.
Weekly planning – Activities / Tasks
Now it is time to add all the activities / tasks that I know of to the ”Regular lane”. This is work I know I need to do during the week. My weekly planning is now complete! Will it change? You bet, but now I have an overview and first understanding of how the working week will look like.
As a side note, I also use Tags (”color coding”) to separate between different type of cards. Meeting have one color, my projects others and so on.
Detailed planning / work breakdown
Before I can do a task, I need to know in detail what to do (pretty obvious, right?). Sometimes I do this work breakdown as a first thing when I start a task, other times I start to think about the task some time before and add the breakdown when it comes to mind. I’m using two different ways for the detailed planning per task: description or task list. I mix between them, whichever suits the task at hand best.
I add the work breakdown as a description to the card. In Favro you can use a simple formatting to get headings, bullet lists and so on.
The other way to add work breakdown is to use the tasklist function. Now you can for example add a ”To Do”-list to your card. You can check your tasks as you complete them to see the progress.
Mid week update
How should it look after Wednesday has passed? Hopefully you have completed some cards and put them in the ”Done”-column. Work not completed should be placed in the ”Next week(s)”-column to be addressed on the next weekly planning.
After Friday all your ”Monday to Friday”-columns should be empty. Then on Monday it starts all over again with the weekly planning and new (or moved) cards are added. Note! I actually do my planning for the next week the last thing I do on Fridays, then I know exactly what to do when I get into the office on Monday (and I don’t have to spend the weekend worrying on that).
Navigate in many collections
After a while, when you have used Favro for everything in your life the number of collections will grow. You can then mark your favorites with a star and they will end up as ”tabs” at the bottom of the screen (you can see ”Personal Kanban” as starred in the pictures above).
There you have it, my personal kanban in Favro. You don’t use Favro? Why not? The principles for my personal kanban board can be used in other online tools as well, maybe not exactly the same but in similar ways. Will I go back to my text files to keep track of my work? No, I will never go back :).
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist