Kanban With Evernote: A Household Example

In my previous article Setting Up Kanban With Evernote I wrote about a simple setup for Kanban using Evernote.

In that article I didn’t give all the details on how you can eventually use such a setup and how it really looks like. In this article I will go a little further and give an example with screenshots and I will share that notebook for public viewing.

For the examples I will use the Evernote web interface, but you can also do this with the desktop or mobile clients.

Assumptions

The workflow consists of the following states (represented by tags):

  • todo
  • doing
  • done

This household consists of three people (represented by tags):

  • John
  • Mary
  • Junior

To make it even a little bit more interesting, I will introduce some “areas of responsibility”, also represented by tags:

  • Cleaning
  • Payments
  • Shopping

Why not make it even a bit more interesting and add some contexts borrowed from David Allen’s GTD. A context can be a location or a tool you need to accomplish the task (in fact a context can be much more than just that, but I keep it simple for this example):

  • @Hardware Store
  • @Supermarket
  • @Home
  • @Computer

Your setup will look like this:

Setup tags

Note that I put the tags in groups of tags. This is not necessary, I did it just for illustration purposes to make things clearer.

Workflow

As mentioned before, the workflow is simple in this case and a task will go through the following states, in the order specified:

  1. todo
  2. doing
  3. done

Creating tasks

You can enter a new task by simply creating a new note and give it a title of the thing that needs to be done. You assign it the todo tag and possibly the tag of the person that needs to do it if known upfront and a context tag if you know upfront where you need to do it or what tool you need.

The following example shows “Buy bread”, which is assigned the following tags:

  • todo
  • @Supermarket
  • Shopping

Entering a task

As you can see, you still need to buy the bread, you need to do it at the supermarket and the area of responsibility is shopping. Anyone can do it, you haven’t assigned someone special to do it.

Now enter some other tasks. I will not give all the details here in the text, but you will be able to see them in the next screenshot:

Tasks in snippet view

However, to have a better overview in the web client, choose the View Options in the notes and show them as a list. This will immediately show the tags assigned to the notes as well, as can be seen below:

Tasks in list view

But you can see that if you have long tag names, not all tags may show, for example with Buy hammer, you don’t see the todo tag. I haven’t been able to change the width of the columns in the web interface, but there are other alternatives that I will address later.

Doing tasks: changing the tags

When someone in the household is ready to start a task, it involves merely changing the notes tags.

When John picks up the Pay bills task, the todo flag is removed from the note and it will be assigned the doing tag. When the task is done, the doing tag is removed and replaced with the done tag.

The Buy bread task hadn’t been assigned a specific person upfront, so anyone in the household can do it. If Mary would decide to do so, she would assign her own tag Mary to it and change the todo tag into doing.

More advanced views

You can use Evernote’s standard features to have more control over your workflow, by filtering the notes on one or more specific tags.

Let’s assume that John finished paying the bills and that Mary is buying the bread. Filtering on the todo tag will now show only the following tasks:

  1. Buy hammer
  2. Do homework for school
  3. Clean shower in bathroom

Remaining todo

Likewise, when you filter on the doing tag, it will show only the Buy bread task:

Tasks in progress

And when you filter on the done tag, you would only see the Pay bills tasks (not shown here).

Suppose one of the members in the household wants to see which tasks remain todo and are assigned to him/her or are not assigned to someone specific (i.e. just something that is available). This makes a very valid use case. Let’s say Mary want to see this.

The filter for this is easy to setup and will show todo tasks not assigned to John or Junior (i.e. assigned to Mary or to no one):

  • Notebook:“Household Kanban”
  • Tag:todo
  • -Tag:John
  • -Tag:Junior

Remaining tasks that Mary can decide to do

As these types of filters will be often used, it is recommended to store them as a Saved Search in Evernote, so that you can easily apply them again without have to write it from scratch.

Saved search

Conclusion

This is just a simple setup, but gives enough hints for further extension and other applications.

I have shared the notebook for this setup publicly for viewing only. This means that you won’t be able to create, modify or delete notes/tasks. This notebook will remain shared until the end of March 2012.

It is shared via the following public URL: http://www.evernote.com/pub/estrenuo/householdkanban

One more thing

Want to have a “real” Kanban board like view? Try something like the following… ;–)

Using multiple browsers for a Kanban board view