Kanban project organization via Google Docs and Kanbanachi

  • 7 January 2017
  • charm
My Kanbanachi board for home projects

This article is a bit of a work in progress. I've used Kanbanachi a little bit for organizing projects at work and personal organization, but I'm a newbie both when it comes to Kanban and the Kanbanachi Google add-on. In other words: I could be doing it wrong. This article covers what I'm using Kanbanachi for with an emphasis on the work I'm doing at home.

I've never been very good at organizing: I have several paper notebooks, post it notes, electronic forms of organization, plastic containers, shoe boxes, several external hard drives and sorting systems from hell. I think I've probably tried to follow just about every organizational system there is out there without really sticking to any one. My latest foray into the world of organization was prompted by Thomas Limoncelli et al's Volume 1 The Practice of System and Network Administration Third Edition. In the book I learned about Kanban boards. Kanban organization can be as simple as physical post-it notes organized on a board.

The folks who created Kanbanachi have taken this quite a bit further. After reading about Kanban in The Practice of System and Network Administration I went looking for a simple way to implement it at work. As it turned out there was a Kanban "app" for Google Drive: Kanbanachi. It's worth mentioning here that a lot of the more sophisticated Kanbanachi functions require the paid option, but basic use is free up to a limit of 4 Kanban boards.

I mentioned earlier that I'm new to Kanban. As I understand Kanban you have 3 areas to pin notes:

  1. To Do
  2. Doing
  3. Done

As you work on a project you move the note from one area to the next. Kanbanachi suggests you work on a maximum of 3 projects/posts at a time. If you check out my screenshot you'll see 5/3 in red for the center Doing section, indicating that I'm probably doing this wrong and should be focusing more on completing projects. I tend to juggle and I think it's good Kanbanachi tells me I probably need to focus more. You can also categorize each post with a colour and rename each of the colours. Colours are initially named with the colour name, but I've renamed a few with names like: Organization, Technology and Business.

Moving post-it notes is a simple as dragging them between To Do, Doing, and Done. Dragging isn't perfect, it takes a bit of practice. When you see a dotted outline the note will place where the outline is. Notes can be reordered simply by dragging them between each other, but again, dragging isn't perfectly smooth.

Notes can be categorized with colours, but they can also be tagged. Tags appear in an oval at the bottom of each note. For example: I've tagged the Technology: Re-rip Audio CDs note with the tags: KODI, Music and Entertainment. This lets you further classify and arrange notes. The oil change filter at the top lets you filter notes by keyword, priority, who the note is assigned to, categories, and of course Tags.

Kanbanachi lets you switch views to a Gantt chart or a list view, but these views are only available with a paid subscription. Kanbanachi seems like a good way to organize projects, but as with all other organizational systems it takes some time, will power, and participation by all parties to use. For the moment it seems like an easy, convenient way for me to organize projects, but time will tell if I stick with it.