Useful Apps: Trello to manage your KanBan Board

Posted on Posted in Lean Tools

In this first entry of a new series of blog posts, I will provide a review of mobile applications that I use in my day-to-day work.  These will be tools that I find useful in my work as a management consultant.  My hope is that it will provide you with an understanding of how the tool may be applied in your professional life.

The first tool I’d like to highlight is the Trello application.  It is available as a web-based tool available on the computer, and on iphone and android devices.  I use this application for many different things in both my personal and professional life.  I use it to track monthly meetings, day-to-day tasks and even a calendar for blog posts.

My favorite use of it is as a kanban board.  Kanban is  an inventory control system and was developed by Taichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota.


There are several different levels I use the kanban format in:

ANNUAL GOALS

This is where I’ll place all of my goals for the year.  I define my goals in several different categories: professional, financial, family, spiritual, physical, mental, lifestyle and relationship.  (It’s something I picked up by reading, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.  This book is a good read for anyone feeling stuck.  It helps the reader gain motivation on how to turn small, repetitive actions into impactful achievements.)


After I’ve defined the goal for the year on a card in the ‘To Do’ column, I’ll go back and identify major milestones that need to be reached through the year and place them inside the card in the form of a checklist.  For example, I have a goal this year of creating a course for the Udemy platform.  The cool thing about Trello is you can compartmentalize information on certain tasks until you’re ready to use it.

When I’m ready to tackle one of the milestones, I can convert it to its own card that’ll be listed in the ‘doing’ column.  That card can also then go onto my more frequently monitored boards: monthly items and daily kanban.  So, what is built is a visual flow of activity from the annual goal state to the actionable day-to-day state.

MONTHLY ITEMS

The monthly board is essentially a planning tool for my efforts over the course of a month.  In the picture above, you’ll see that I have blog topics outlined and color-coded along with action items related to my annual goals labeled with a number index. After I have planned and reviewed the month ahead, I’ll convert certain topics to cards on my day-to-day kanban board.  I refresh this board weekly with new tasks, and I use it daily to drive my efforts.

DAY-TO-DAY

 The daily board consists of tasks that need to be completed in that given week.  A daily review is done at the beginning of each day.  In this review, the tasks in the TO DO column are prioritized and any items from the idea column will be moved over if needed.

By performing a review at the beginning of each day, I can ensure that I have a list of items that need to be completed in order of priority.  This way I don’t have to expend additional energy throughout the day figuring out what to do next.  I take the next ordered item in the TO DO column and move it over into the DOING column.  I leave it there until it’s complete.

I try to stick to a max of three items in the DOING column.  This way I don’t end up with a list of 10 items I’m trying to complete all at once.  In my view, this takes away from my ability to focus on a singular.

Trello is a useful tool to keep track of work in different ways.  I use the free version of the application on my mobile devices for quick access to the information throughout my day.  I describe one way to use the tool above, but a quick google search will reveal various ways people have applied this tool to fill their needs.