Kanban At Home

As Jen mentioned in a previous post, kanban has crept into our home. Here is a quick post to tell you how we build our board, how we use it, and the results.

While some families create a permanent board, we’ve found that temporary boards serve us well. If you stop by some Saturday morning you’ll probably find us in the act of putting post-its on the mirror in our front entrance. It is true that occasionally our board is created in the kitchen or even sometimes the hallway, but the front entrance is currently our favourite location. We have three columns across the top – “Ready”, “Doing / Work in Progress”, and “Done”. You can probably simplify the middle column name to “Doing” or “WIP” but our kids have decreed that we should use both terms.

We populate the “Ready” column with everything we’d like to accomplish that weekend. We’re careful to make sure the tasks are clear and not too big. For example, instead of “Clean the House”, we create post-its for “Clean the Kitchen”, “Vacuum the living room”, etc. Our board will have a mix of post-its that are specific to one person (“C practice piano”, “A practice drums”, “M clean room”, “Daddy pay master card”) and cards with no names that anyone can grab (“Shovel the snow”, “Organize the front closet”). More recently we’ve also started to add post-its for doing fun things together (“LEGO!”, “Family Movie”).

Once the board is populated the process is quite simple. Everyone selects a post-it, moves it to the “Doing / Work in Progress” column and goes to work. Once they are done that task, they move it to “Done” and select another. By the end of the weekend, the post-its have made a large shift towards “Done” as seen above.

For our family this board works because it is simple, transparent, and requires little to no ‘management’ (i.e. nagging). Once the board is populated each person has a clear view of their expectations and can make their own decisions about when to do chores and when to play. On most Saturdays our kids (ages 7, 9, 11) do their chores earlier in the day so that they can spend the rest of the day relaxing without worrying that more chores will be added to their list.

A board we created this holiday season is a particularly great example of the peace that a board can bring in our household. We had just returned from a road trip through Nebraska (Car Henge!), South Dakota (Rushmore and Jewel Cave), Wyoming and North Dakota. The level of grumpiness as we unloaded all of our luggage from the van into the house was historic – we were all tired and the mood was tense. As we stood around the pile of luggage now clogging our front entrance we reluctantly decided to create our board. Among the post-its for “Laundry” and “Unpack Luggage” were reward post-its like “Sleep” and “Spend my $10 Claire’s gift card”. After agreeing to take care of all the chores before starting any of the reward post-its, we moved our post-its to the “Done” column in record time with zero nagging. In parallel, the spirit of our household moved from grumpy to peaceful with the same efficiency.

Well, it’s Saturday morning. I’m being beckoned…

Re-posted from

About WinnipegAgilist

Steve Rogalsky - An agilist and team member at Protegra with a passion for agile and lean principles and practices. Green bar addict, agile player/coach, teacher, dad, husband. Email: steve.rogalsky at protegra dot com


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: