These days, thanks to a simplified personal and professional life, my task list isn’t very complex. Lengthy, but not convoluted, therefore a simple list in my journal works very well. This was not always the case, and probably isn’t the case for many of you.
Kanban, meaning “signal” or “card” in Japanese, is a way to define and visually show the work, and components of work, in a sequence of operations. Recently this has been applied to knowledge work as well, with various apps and programs available to use the concept to manage task lists. Although a software solution may be helpful to some, especially if you are mobile and not always in a single office, a simple magnetic whiteboard can sometimes work just as well.
Typically there are a series of columns, with the left-most being the parking lot or backlog, holding tasks that are waiting to start. The next column to the right is for tasks that are ready to start. Perhaps labeled as “Ready” or “This Month.” Then comes “Today” and, if you really want to tightly manage it, “Three Things.” Finally, a column for “Done” so I could see (and celebrate!) results. I often used additional columns for tasks that had been delegated, or were waiting on external input.
Magnetic cards, or even sticky notes, are used for tasks, making it easy to move them around. Additional visual cues can be developed and used for priority and the amount of time estimated to complete the task. I would date the cards so I could easily tell how long were aging – perhaps an indicator in itself of importance.
This is just one potential tool, and there are many potential variations of it. Experiment, don’t simply adopt. Figure out what works best for you.