Skip to content

Kanban planning in a filofax


Kanban is a Japanese organisational card system developed by Toyota to control the logistical chain of production’. But I suggest we skip that bit and let me talk about how applying washi tape to its basic principles results in a simple, attractive and effective planning tool.

I get Enthusiasms. There is so much I want to do and learn in life that I get pushed and pulled in all directions. Even if I focus on one activity – say art quilting – I have too many ideas to do all at once. Even though I have pretty good time management skills and cram a lot into a day, I cannot do everything all at once. But I refuse to give up on good ideas and dreams. Which results in one of two issues happening. Usually both at the same time!

Either I start things straight away but then I can’t get back to them and my head is full of unfinished things with no end sight. Or I don’t start them because i now I don’t haven’t time and my head is full of trying to hold on to my excitement and the details of the ideas so I can start them in the future. Not good. So, when I bought yet another filofax I decided to set up a Project Management Centre. I will post more on that later when it is fully set up but one key feature was to have a visual overview of how much I had on the go and at what stage those projects were at.

My first attempt was to draw colour coded lines on a Horizontal Year Planner. BIg Fat Fail! Way too many lines all competing. And this is not even finished. But doing it gave me an idea. A Kanban system.

The Horizontal Year Planner has three blank pages on its back. Placed next to a blank page across the Filofax rings I can have four main boards. I labelled those: Parked ( things I want to do but which have to wait a while) In Preparation (projects where I need to accumulate initial supplies or knowledge before I can actually launch in) In Production (projects I am actively working on) and Completed. The latter section means I have a record of major achievements for the year.

By reversing the valley and mountain folds of the year planner I can either have the diary and the parked section on view when the diary is folded up or I can hide those two in the folds and have the In Preparation and Active pages on view. Instead if the lines on the diary I am going to stick to key target dates and lines only for when I am away and will not be available to work on anything..

I made my ‘cards’ from slips of paper and coded the project type by using different washi tapes. I might tweak this later by replacing the Completed page with an A4 folded so that I can subdivide my Active stage up a bit but for now.. I love it! For anyone who wants to try this electronically I also have two ipad apps that allow you do the same process, namely, Leankit and Scrumboard.


5 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is such a great idea! You may have given me an idea of what to do with my horizontal planner.

    February 25, 2013
  2. Robyn Placek #

    I love your system with the washi tape – it looks so pretty and organized! I use a similar system to keep track of my work projects. I love it, it keeps my mind free to focus on the task at hand instead of always worrying about all the other things I have going on. Here is a link to my system on flickr:

    February 26, 2013
  3. Alison Reeves #

    Helen – there is another option for iPad, iPhone and online called Trello (I’m pretty sure it is free). With regard to a manual system – could you use the different coloured baby post its to differentiate between different types of projects?

    I’ve seen this done on a white board, but when I tried it it didn’t work so well – I like the idea of using the filofax as it is portable to some extent.

    February 26, 2013
  4. printedportal #

    Hi Helen – I use the trello app for this type of thing which I find works better than my endless ideas pages in my on the go Filofax. I had struggled to find a way to manage this in a Filofax as I keep changing and updating my ideas so I went for an app instead – I may give your method a go.

    I have also downloaded scrumboard to give it a go.

    February 27, 2013

Make me happy - leave a comment!!

%d bloggers like this: