How to Manage Tasks with Kanban

Table of Contents

Introduction

This article provides a quick overview of the Kanban project management system and how it can be used for managing tasks, increasing productivity, and visualizing workload. My introduction to Kanban came from John Sonmez as I was searching for tools for managing assignments in university. Since then, I have been using Kanban for managing university assignments, improving my blog, and managing work-related tasks. As an example, the article explains how to use KanbanFlow for managing school assignments. We chose KanbanFlow because it has a good set of features, and it’s easy to use and works both on desktop and mobile.

Two articles, What is Kanban Board? and Best Kanban Apps inspired this article. I recommend reading them in conjunction with this article as they give a broader picture of Kanban.

Overview of Kanban

Kanban is a project management system initially used in lean manufacturing, but more recently, it has become popular in knowledge work. We can use Kanban in Agile software development, but it also works for managing school assignments or writing tasks for a blog. The core principles of Kanban are:

  1. Visualize your work
  2. Limit your work in process
  3. Focus on flow

The Kanban board consists of columns and cards. It visualizes the project such that each card represents an individual task in the project, and each column represents the state of the particular task. By convention, we move the cards from left to right. Kanban board can also have multiple members working on the project. Kanban board can also be associated with a timer. The timer can be used to measure the amount of time it takes to complete a task, which can then be used to estimate the future workload of similar tasks.

The standard columns are:

  • To-Do – Unstarted tasks.
  • Work In Progress (WIP) – Tasks that are in progress. This column can be limited to only be able to have a certain number of tasks at a time to limit multitasking.
  • Done – Completed tasks.

Columns can be added, removed, and modified as needed for the project. Each card has the following attributes:

  • Title – The name of the task.
  • Description – Description of the task.
  • Due date – The date and time when the task is due.
  • Subtasks – Subtasks needed to complete the task. Subtasks should be simple; otherwise, consider creating another Kanban card of that subtask.
  • Color – Colors can be used to indicate the type of the task.
  • Label – Labels can be used to classify tasks.
  • Member – Project members assigned to the task.

The timer has two options:

  • Stopwatch – Stopwatch can be used to measure the time taken to complete a task.
  • PomodoroPomodoro technique is a time management technique based on using 25 minute timeboxes for focused work, referred as Pomodoro. We can take a short 3-5 minute break after each Pomodoro and longer 15-30 minutes break after four Pomodori.

Example: Managing School Assignments

My personal Kanban board for school assignments consists of the standard columns: To-do, In progress and Done. We’ll add tasks into To-do column with a title containing the course name or an abbreviation of it, the exercise round, and the name. Also, we can set a due date for each task. Some tasks have subtasks, which should be listed. We can set colors for tasks such that each course has a unique color. Colors make different courses easier to identify.

The workflow follows the standard pattern. Move tasks from To-do to In progress column as you start working on them. Once we complete the task, we move it into the Done column.

Jaan Tollander de Balsch
Jaan Tollander de Balsch
Computer Science & Applied Mathematics

Jaan Tollander de Balsch is a computer scientist with a background in applied mathematics.

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