Using a Kanban Board for Organization

Using a Kanban Board for Organization

I have been writing full time for a little over seven years now. I have 32 indie books published, one more in the pipeline, and a three-book contract with Revell with a deadline of September 1, 2021.

I also, with my husband, run an advance-paying small press with several authors.

And we have three kids, one of whom is special needs, and a busy life.

Needless to say, organization is a key to my sanity. It is also something for which I am extremely passionate about.

I am a planner junkie. I loved thumbing through planners and calendars in the store before it was cool. When I first stumbled across one of those planner displays with all of the stickers and pages and build-your-own kind of thing, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was as if someone read my mind and knew how to speak my love language. (And as a plug from a planner junkie, I highly recommend My Brilliant Writing Planner from my friend Susan May Warren.)

I’ve tried all different ways to organize my work and my life. Recently, I came across the concept of a Kanban board, and it has become a game-changer to me.

On a Kanban board, you divide the board into different sections. Mine is three: TO DO, IN PROCESS, COMPLETE. I sit down at the beginning of the quarter and establish three goals, then write down all of the work/steps I need to perform to accomplish those goals. All of the work/steps are transferred to sticky notes, with each goal having its own color.

I have disciplined myself that if a new project comes on my horizon, I will not add it to this quarter. I make a note to apply it to the next quarter because I’ve already worked out this quarter’s work and goals. This keeps my brain from being attracted to all of the marketing ideas and new tricks and all the “shiny” out there and keeps me focused on what I’m reaching toward with the steps I’ve already established.

Once a week, I look at the work/steps for each goal and determine what will be accomplished that week toward the specific quarterly goal. Those work/steps get moved to IN PROCESS. The work/steps I’ve completed get moved to the COMPLETE section.

This quarter’s goals were:

  1. To increase my sales/income by a certain percentage.
  2. To increase my newsletter list by a certain percentage.
  3. To increase my following in my Successful Christian Self-Publishing blog and social media by a certain percentage.

I don’t know why this resonated so well with my brain. Part of it is because it’s visual. At the beginning of every quarter, I look at this huge pile of sticky -note opportunities and I can’t wait to get started. I also have seasonal washi tape that I build my board with and, as silly as that is, I love the seasons and seasonal branding so it makes me happy. I can glance at the board, see the work for the week but also see what I’ve gotten done more than if it were scratched out on a to-do list.

It was easy to create. I took a 24”x36” picture frame and put backwards wrapping paper on the board inside the frame instead of a picture. Then I divided it into three columns and three rows. It cost me the price of the frame. I can use dry or wet erase markers on the glass with no problem.

How do you manage your daily/weekly/monthly to-do list?

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4 thoughts on “Using a Kanban Board for Organization

  1. I love this! So practical. I used the Kanban system in my former job and found it worked well with my need for color and the visual reminder of what I had accomplished. I haven’t translated the system to my writing, though. So thank you for showing how easy it is! I’m making my board today!

  2. This is exactly what I do, except that I put washi tape dividers directly on the wall in front of my desk instead of using a nice frame! I found the Kanban system through the Heartbreathings Youtube video last year, and it works well for me. Better than anything I’ve tried before.

    After reading your article, I’m going to add another space for “next quarter’s projects.”

    I still have pretty planners in various sizes and formats. 🙂

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