Turning My Kanban Board into a Future Log

For a long time now I’ve used a Kanban board to manage workflows. Currently I’m using a small cork board mounted on the wall. If you’re not familiar with the method, you divide a whiteboard or bulletin board into four columns. They’re labeled with some variation of to do, in progress, waiting, done. It’s a good visual representation of where things stand when you’re handling multiple project, or you’re managing a project that has a lot of moving parts.

Since switching to a bullet journal, it’s become redundant. Project pages capture tasks that need to be done. They get assigned to monthly spreads and daily logs. Incomplete tasks or things waiting on some other action or deliverable get flagged and scheduled for followup. When things are done, they get checked off. Plus I can take the bujo with me, whether I’m going to the coffee shop to work, to a meeting, or just to sit in comfy chair in the living room for a bit. That’s why one of my projects this weekend it to turn the Kanban board into a giant future log.

All I have to do is relabel the four columns. I’m going to put three months up at a time. It will probably be a running three months, rather than a hard quarter. At the end of March, for example, I’ll take that down, move April and May over to the left, and add June. The fourth column will be for things further out that I want to remember, haven’t been assigned, or haven’t been written into the bujo future log yet.

Turning My Kanban Board into a Future Log

What will go on this future log board are deadlines and milestones. Release dates for projects in the pipeline, for certain. These will be written on sticky notes, so they can be rearranged if needed. This will give me visibility to what’s coming up without having to go look at the future log. Which, honestly, I only look at once a month, when I’m setting up a new monthly spread.

The benefit, to me, is that I will be able to balance out a sense of accomplishment with a sense of urgency. As a project is competed, a deadline is met, a product is released, I can take the sticky note down. The month will empty out. At the same time I will see what is still on my plate for next month, and the month after that. Being able to see at least a fraction of my future log on the wall is more beneficial to me than a Kanban board.


2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Interesting. I started using Kanban boards at work last year after reading The Phoenix Project (a fictionalized account of using the DevOps methodology to save a dysfunctional IT department at a large company). It’s been great for keeping track of my team’s work-in-progress. I find that Kanban’s a great triaging tool – this past week I was feeling overwhelmed at work because I had a badly-organized queue of quasi-project tasks that needed doing. Putting together a quick Kanban and throwing a bunch of index cards on the wall helped tremendously.

    I also toyed with using it for my personal projects and workflows after reading Personal Kanban this past summer, but ultimately my bullet journal serves that niche (at least for now).

    I like the approach you’ve laid out here – one of the things I’ve been wrestling with is getting my head around the “mid-term” view – the stuff queued up for the next few months that may not be on my plate *now* but will be soon. This might help with that.

  2. What I like is that it’s not an either/or solution. You can do both! If I had space for a wall full of whiteboards, I might have separate Kanban boards for each projects as well as a future log board for long-term visibility. The bullet journal works in place of a Kanban for me because I’m flying solo. If I had a team, I’d still need a Kanban so everyone could see what’s going on.

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