Introduction: Make a Personal Kanban Board

Picture of Make a Personal Kanban Board

Just by coming to shows you like doing stuff. If, like me, you like to do lots of stuff then sometimes things get on top of you. Try an do too much and nothing ends up getting completed because you end up starting something else before you have finished your current task.

Kanban was designed to help with the flow of manufacturing tasks in the Toyota factory but it can be adapted to personal tasks to help you organise your life. I have been using Kanban at work for about 12 months. A couple of months ago I used a simple Kanban board to help organise moving house, this was just done using three panels on the study door. After a really inspiring talk by Sandy Mamoli I decided to create my own board based on her designs. I am now bringing it home to help organise the huge amount of work running our small farm, leading a cub scout pack and general living.

You can buy a board at, there are some really great designs, for me putting the effort into making one gives me more incentive to use it. I will give some info on how you can use it later in this instructable, but it is not intended as a KanBan tutorial.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
  • 1/2 Sheet of Plastiflute 450mm * 600mm * 3.3m (like corrugated card but plastic)
  • Craft Knife
  • Permanent Marker (contrast with background)
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil (useless on the black)
  • POST-ITtm Notes 5cm or 2" (different colours)

I chose the Plasiflute as it was lots cheaper than the card & foam sandwich. At the end of the day you can use whatever you want as a background. I've used glass, paper and even written an application for my computer. For a personal board the size 450mm * 300mm works well with the 5cm2 POST-ITs. This post-it size seems to be readily available in blocks of many colours, making it easy to colour code your tasks.

Step 2: Prepare the Board

Picture of Prepare the Board
First you need to make sure that your board is about the right size. Too big or too small are not good. 
I have decided that I can't successfully work on more than 2 tasks at a time, but I could have 4 or 5 on hold. Also about 4 or 5 in my immediate todo list should be about what I can get through in a weekend.

Playing around with a few POST-IT Notes  confirmed 450mm * 300mm was a good size, fortunately it is 1/2 a board so you can get 2 boards out of one sheet.

I found that the pencil didn't work in the shiny board so I drew some arrows on a couple of POST-IT Notes and used them to mark positions as I went along.

As I was using a slow drying marker on a non-porous material I cleaned the ruler with a cloth between uses. 

Once you have the lines drawn, give them a heading. What you use is really up to you as long as it works for you, this may only become apparent when you start using it. Once you get into using it don't be surprised if you feel like changing the labels.
I used:
  • Waiting
  • ToDo
  • Doing
  • Hold
  • DONE! (yeh party!)
More on these in the next step, so you may want to think before you commit to permanent marker.

Step 3: Use the Board

Picture of Use the Board
So, now you have a board just how do you use it? I won't go into the all the hows and whys but these are the general principles I am trying to follow.
  1. A task is important, it is not "get breakfast"
  2. One task per post-it
  3. Tasks are colour coded
  4. No task takes longer than a day
  5. Tasks move from left to right
  6. If there is no more space there is no more space.
  7. Only I add tasks - others can request them.
The waiting section is for stuff that needs doing but I am not going to get to it in the next couple of days.

To Do
These tasks are what I am planning on doing soon e.g. during the weekend.

What I am actively working on, I should not be working on anything that is not in here. There is only space here for 2 tasks because any more tends to get overwhelming.
If something comes up which is more important something will need to be put on hold. If I can't progress a task because I need materials or am dependant on someone else then the task may also be put on hold.

Partially completed tasks that are not progressing.

Completed tasks i.e. 100% complete including clean up.

The bottom of the board
Currently used as the legend, but can be used for notes or other stuff. Traditionally this is a speed lane but I don't think I should have too much use, will see.

If you want  to know more...


vera.kleinholz (author)2015-03-20

How about to add 'check out Kanban Tool' to your TO DO list? :) It's much more efficient than whiteboard Kanban

I've seen your advertisement for KanbanTool elsewhere, so I'll take your input with a grain of sand.

I've been using software Kanban tools for years. You're right that they are more efficient. However, they are often hidden away in a tab or need to be browsed to. There is definitely an "out of sight, out of mind" effect for some people. The beauty of a real, live Kanban board is that it's always in front of you. It keeps you on track by being in your face.

expatty (author)JonathonB42017-08-29

Since I wrote this I have also started using Trello.
Each have their time and place. I really find the Physical boards work well at home and on my desk. Also where we have a team working in one place.
Other things like a long term personal development board, distributed team, or heavily multimedia content works well on an electronic board.
It depends on your needs at the time. Just don't be afraid to try different ways. If it doesn't work for you then learn and try something else.

Hyperduck23 made it! (author)2015-04-30

Thank you, thank you, so much thank you!

I've been a world of ideas, half-baked plans, endless Instructables browsing and impotent creativity for ages; this board (being the first Instructabe I've actually followed) has got all of the planning & organisation out of my head and onto something I can interact with, leaving space in my head to properly get on with things. Lists were a dead end and the bane of my existence; this is next level.

I did a bit of further research into Kanban and added a 'backlog board' (the bottom one) for things that pop into my head that I want to do. Now, instead of swimming in a sea of potential, when something I definitely want to do comes up I pop it onto the backlog board and forget about it, safe in the knowledge that it'll make it onto the main board in due course, when it'll get broken down into smaller tasks (if required).

Physically moving things about is ace fun and seeing the 'Done' section fill up is super satisfying. And the black background with neon sticky notes looks wicked in my studio.

I can't thank you enough, revolutionary stuff. :)

milothefultz (author)2012-12-06

Thanks a lot! Very helpful.

About This Instructable




Bio: I think therefore I ride.
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