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Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Kanbana application: Create your own J.A.R.V.I.S.

Frank Degenaar

Today I'm showcasing an application which is a perfect example of my Kanban Calendar system. In fact, it is the very inspiration thereof. It highlights the versatility and simplicity to be found in a setup that is truly your own. 

Remember Tony Stark's virtual butler, J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just a Rather Very Intelligent System)? It keeps absolutely everything in his mansion in check. Also, it's optimized for his Iron Man suit. Tony Stark built his own system, so he's really plugged in to its full potency. Often, when you build something yourself - for yourself - it makes all the difference in the world. It frees you up (from more fuss than is necessary) to either get on with saving the world... or saving your own bacon.

No matter where you are, you need quick access to information. You need your system to bring you up to speed at a glance. It also needs to not be a pain in the butt to update and maintain. Let me introduce you to Kanbana a little-known digital Kanban board with less bells and whistles than Trello, but with speed and flexibility you will not find elsewhere... 

  • Platforms: iPad, iPhone, Web.
    • The iPad app is free: There is an in-app purchase to sync and back up your data.
    • The iPhone version is currently in beta testing...


Let's take a look under the hood and see how Kanbana will help you build your own personal assistant, Y.O.R.V.I.S. (Your Own Rather Very Intelligent System). The iPad version alone is worth its salt:


Zoom in & out anywhere along your Kanbana board 

... and create as many panels/ stages as you wish, which is perfect for the Kanban Calendar setup.  Kanbana is a true Kanban board, since you can visualize your entire workflow, as well as easily limit your work in progress. Watch the following quick video clip I recorded to see it in action. Notice how you can move tasks clear across your board when zoomed out.

Kanbana does not have (nor does it need) a search feature. You see - on the Kanbana board, nothing is hidden. Take a look at the bird's-eye view of my board: I have bills to pay spaced throughout the month, with the color purple reserved for those, so I can easily identify them wherever they are. Along with that, backlogged tasks are categorized according to project or context.


The need for speed (& low maintenance)

Kanbana is ridiculously fast and intuitive in creating tasks, choosing their color and moving them back and forth by dragging and dropping. Also, in terms of maintaining your Kanbana board there is no messing around:

  • No moving tasks from one "folder" to another through a popup context menu.  
  • No tagging (the colors and your Kanban board setup make a tagging system unnecessary). 
  • No setting recurring tasks (you simply recycle by dragging and dropping any recurring weekly or monthly task to the next due date in the calendar section once it is done).

When tomorrow becomes today...

Each successive day in your Calendar section "streams towards you" when tomorrow becomes today... so, there's no need to set due dates and/ or reminders. That becomes redundant. Tomorrow's tasks will then simply be distributed in Today's section on your board, among whatever priority stages you've set up. Nothing is going to fall through the cracks - unless you totally do not look at your system. It's a no-brainer.

Notice in the video clip how individual panels can be dragged and repositioned anywhere: I pull the Tuesday 29th panel into my Today section and delete it once the tasks have been offloaded. I have created a panel for each of the upcoming 30+ days, serving as a "Tickler file" of sorts. I talk about this in my Kanban Calendar post.


 I find that if you trust your system - if it's a system that brings tasks to your attention when you need them - there is really no need for repetitious list revisions to identify and extract tasks to be done daily. The Kanbana app is unbeatable that way, especially when you set up a Calendar section. Owing to Kanbana's minimalist set of features, you can totally focus on getting tasks done with less tinkering and reshuffling.

If on the other hand you feel that you need extra features for sharing, etc., or prefer to keep attachments or all related information together in one place, with your task itself, then something like Trello or Gneo may be a better fit for you. I personally keep pertinent extra information in Evernote, where it is searchable - or in WorkFlowy, where I can outline the nitty gritty of complex project tasks and shuffle things around as needed. However, it is in Kanbana that the bigger picture of all of my life's tasks come together.

By the way, my Kanban Calendar system can be set up perfectly in both WorkFlowy and Evernote. Not as patch-up jobs, but rather as very powerful task management platforms in their own rights. Those posts are to come in the weeks ahead. The thing is, I like color - so Kanbana does it for me. Kanbana is as visual as it gets. It's also insanely fast. A powerhouse combination.