Our Family Kanban Board – What happens when mom was a CSM in her previous life

The place where I work at home, used to look like this:


Okay, so the books are organized. That is because it was one of the first things that Nathan and I did when we moved into our home. There are still un-unpacked boxes in the garage and storage, but the books, well, we took care of those within the first week. And yes, they’re color coordinated. And by genre. But not alphabetized. Sheesh. We’re not crazy.

There’s a desk on the right where Nathan has a laptop and the desk on the left with a PC that we both use. And there are things all over. Can you spot them?

  • an old printer that needs a replacement toner, but that’s too expensive
  • a baby swing
  • an old high school yearbook
  • a box full of things from over a decade of accumulation at my old job
  • an infant’s elephant toy
  • a shelf that needs to be hung on the wall
  • things on top of the book shelf
  • a box full of items awaiting a trip to the DI
  • a network cable (tripping hazard)
  • shoe boxes full of office supplies needing a home
  • an old (I mean, ancient, people, like 9 years old) laptop

That picture is after I had already cleared out the corner with the filing cabinet. Let’s talk about that corner at the end, shall we? That’s where my CSM life really took over. (BTW, CSM is a certified scrum master… we do software project management… we attempt to make developers’ stand for daily status meetings. Or at least, I used to.)

There was a lot of filing and shredding of papers to be done, but now, the home office looks like this:


Hooray for cleanliness! Or at least, a step in the right direction. Okay, now on to the board, yo.

So I was talking with my buddy, Suzanne, on a walk one morning about how I don’t feel like I accomplish much in the day. This should be obvious, since infants are rather demanding, selfish little creatures that prefer to spend much time at the boob. (Wait, not mine. She’s a fussy nurser. No dairy for me, sigh.)

That’s when the family kanban board was decided upon. It’s shades of my former CSM life where we used agile project methodologies to track our work. This is one form that I was only familiar with. We used Scrum at work. Kanban is another mold. I did a little online research and then came up with what seemed to work for me. The first step, was making the board. I picked up an awesome, old cork board at the DI, because ONE DOLLAR! It was ugly. So I painted it.

The top left shows the board after I painted the frame silver (spray paint). Look at all of those scratches and a cute little heart in permanent marker. I grabbed three shades of yella at the craft store (I should ask Martha Stewart to pay me for this post, right?), then taped it off to create my swim lanes (top right corner). The final result was a little candy-corn like, but here you go. My family kanban board beginnings:


A blank board doesn’t tell you JACK SQUAT so it was time to start filling it up. This is the part that is still a work in progress. I could use some suggestions. What are tasks at home that need to be done daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Here is the board filled in:

How it’s organized for now (we shall see what works well and what doesn’t)…

  1. Weekly calendar on the left for meal planning and scheduling. We’re not particularly busy, yet.
  2. Labels on the side of the bookshelf to assign categories to the colors of the cards:
    1. blue: personal/freelance writing
    2. pink: food
    3. green: physical/mental/spiritual health
    4. yellow: bigger projects
    5. red-orange: cleaning/organizing/laundry
  3. Some family pictures on the right… because they were once hanging in my office at work.
  4. The main board organized into DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY going down, and READY, DOING, DONE going across.
  5. On the filing cabinet: markers, scissors, tape, papers, pushpins; and two boxes: TO FILE and TO RESPOND.

Each day, I start over with the daily tasks, moving everything back to the READY column. Each Monday morning, I do the same with the weekly tasks. Now, I need to figure out how to use this for family organization and communication. Should we have a meeting by the board once a month? once a week? at all? Only on Saturdays?

So many questions…


5 thoughts on “Our Family Kanban Board – What happens when mom was a CSM in her previous life

  1. I recently listened to a book, The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler, he talked about weekly family meetings to discuss all the things you have on your board. He had used agile as an example of how the family meetings would work. They would address what went well that week, what went wrong, and what to work on this week. He even went as far as to create a family manifesto highlighting the values of the family. This board would fit right into a meeting like that!
    Awesome idea! Hope you are doing well!!


  2. I love the idea. I think I will try it because right now all I have is a “TO DO” list which works but most of the time – out sight, out of mind.


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