Greetings, everyone!

I'm curious to know if you use Kanban? I just started working as a senior manager with five direct reports in a Fortune 100 company, so getting a handle on both my task and project management skills has become critical.

Over the years, I've used various systems like FranklinCovey, GTD, and Total Workday Control. None worked or stuck, although I've picked up various techniques over the years that have become part of my routine. I'm not a developer, but what interests me the most about Kanban is the idea of simplifying task management down to its barest essentials (backlog, doing, done).

I'm most interested right now in personal task management using Kanban. How do you manage all that email and keep your kanban updated?

Any assistance would be gratefully appreciated.

At your service,
Michael E. Rubin

mattpalmer's picture

My opinion is that GTD and Kanban are very different things.  GTD is a good, solid, *personal* work management system, while Kanban is intended to manage the work of teams and groups.  I can't even imagine how a GTD approach would work for a team, and Kanban's principles don't appear to translate well to an individual level.

I don't use Kanban (yet?), but I have investigated it extensively as a possible project management tool.  My take on it is that it is primarily a status communication tool.  It keeps the whole team informed of the status of the various tasks, and lets everyone have a stake in managing and updating the board.

I'm a fan of GTD, and try and use it to manage my own workflow, although I wouldn't say I'm a ninja at it.  I've "rebooted" my system probably 4 or 5 times by now, and each time I get better and better at it.  I may doom myself by saying this, but there's the possibility that this time I may have gotten it to stick... 15 months now and still going strong.'s picture

I too have tried all the processes (GTD, FranklinCovey, SuperFocus) and none have been successful for me in the long term (more than two months.) I am trying Personal Kanban now, based on two factors: I am a visual person, and there are very few 'rules' to the system.

for reference, see:

I am using an desktop tool to manage my task board, see:

*Not affiliated with either, just my current system.


-Steve's picture

 Wanted to add, wrt keeping it all updated. That's what I didn't like about some of the other systems. Right now, I use outlook for email, my meeting notebook for meeting notes, and my kanban board for a task list. I make reference notes when needed, but I make no effort to merge data streams. To do so makes the tool more work than necessary, in my opinion. 

jrb3's picture
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I'm using Kanban for personal stuff and individual tasks at work, yes.  It's great for visibility in a team environment, especially coordinating the day-to-day activity of a close-knit, collocated team.  It's yet another "list" of "next actions" for one specific context, visible just in that one context.

Email for me is just another collection "inbox".  What's on the kanban is the result of having processed down to "next action".  Different stages, so different tools.  I update my kanban when a task is done, a decision is made to start/stop something, and during a project review (often part of the weekly review) while breaking down more next-actions to post on the kanban board.

Oh, details:  I'm using post-it notes on a whiteboard (at home) and a glass divider (at work) for my kanban boards.  For both, simple dry-erase marker lines separate the phases -- ready [12] / doing [4] / done (home) and consider / split / ready [9] / doing [3] / in-test [6] / to-deploy / done (work).  The numbers are my work-in-progress limit.  The first two phases for work appear at home as my project support files and projects in a dedicated file cabinet drawer.

Resilience's picture

I use Kanban both for personal stuff and for teams.I also use GTD personally.

And I use the perspective of the week a la Covey/First Things First.

Having expended a vast amount of time over the years exploring various time management and project management systems (ironic, but it has become a hobby in itself), I can say that the main point is not so much the methodology you use as the lean/agile mindset you bring to it, and the regular team practices that you use to bring it to life, e.g. daily stand ups. (No affiliations with any of the links - happy to share - please let us know how you get on!)

Regarding Kanban, many ways to do it - best to start simple - you can add columns as needed later.

This is a good resource to see examples of how others use Kanban: 10 Kanban boards and their uses 

We use a magnetic whiteboard and cards with self-adhesive magnets (better productivity as post-its aren't durable and tend to fall off, while using cards allows us to simply move them along the 'swimlanes' - no need to rewrite anything).

I've tinkered with Kanban software, but it doesn't do exactly what I want, so I've reverted to tactile Kanban, which does exactly what I want, and is visible to the whole team.

Some companies use software in combination with a tactile Kanban (useful with virtual teams) or a conventional WIP (various software).

Also, here's a book on Personal Kanban

No need to buy the book, however - you can get the same material via blogs, etc.




hashbrown's picture

 Resilience- Thanks very much for sharing the 10 Kanban boards. I've found it very useful!


StanZen's picture

Been using Kanban for years, started on paper then post-its note to finaly witch to online.

It's been working very well for me and I encourage everydbody to do so.

As big fan of Kanban, our team at Zenkit created our own free online tool to manage tasks. To give it a try, check , we'd love your feedbacks.