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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!

Trello & Kanban Calendar

Frank Degenaar

This edition of my Kanban Calendar setup showcases Trello, one of the heavyweights in the task management world. With multiple Kanban boards, sublists within individual cards and the ability to create multiple cards at once from any input list, it is similar to the previously reviewed Kanbana app, only a bit more souped up. If you're a Star Trek fan and a Kanban enthusiast, this post is a match made in heaven. What are the chances?

Saucer separation - primary and secondary hulls

A day or two ago I watched Star Trek (TNG) Season 1 Episode 20, "The Arsenal of Freedom". In this episode the Starship Enterprise comes under attack from a cloaked (invisible) sentry probe while in orbit around the planet of Minos. This is one of the few episodes where we see the USS Enterprise decouple the primary and secondary hull, in an emergency maneuver called saucer separation. This allowed civilians to remain aboard the saucer section, while the main crew took the secondary hull back to take on the sentry probe and extract the away team from Minos.

Saucer separation happens for 3 main reasons:

  • To separate the civilians from the main crew in emergency situations
  • To focus full energy reserves on a battle
  • Agility

Separating/ decoupling the Kanban Calendar board in Trello from individual project boards helps us achieve something similar:

  • To separate personal & miscellaneous tasks from project-related tasks
  • To have a dedicated Kanban board for individual projects where we can focus our energies on one project at a time, each with their own unique Kanban workflow
  • Agility in dragging and dropping/ transferring tasks wherever you need

Civilian life - daily odds and ends

The primary hull/  saucer section/ main section of the USS Enterprise: "The primary hull typically contained most vital systems on board a starship, including the main bridge, computer core, captain's ready room, conference room, sickbay, science labs, Captain's quarters, crew quarters,transporter room, ten forward, mess hall, holodeck, corridor and other crew support systems." - Memory Alpha

This is the heart of the Kanban Calendar, where all of life's varied and miscellaneous tasks come together.

Here's a public link to my main Kanban Calendar board (template) in Trello. Feel free to take a closer look. In the meantime, here is a video clip with a general overview (Web version on PC). Enjoy the Star Trek soundtrack!: 

  • Notice the "Backlogged section", the "Today section" and the "Calendar section" on the main board. 
  • The Today section has an Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize today's tasks, along with a "Doing" and "Done" stage.
  • The Calendar section houses all of our date-specific (not necessarily time-specific) miscellaneous tasks. We are able to "Limit our Work in Progress" in the Today section by pushing tasks to upcoming days in the Calendar section. 
  • One can represent a project in the Eisenhower Matrix, together with a global list of miscellaneous tasks - in order to gauge how much we have on our plate for today.

The battle crew - down to business 

The secondary hull/ engineering hull/ stardrive section/ battle section of the USS Enterprise: "The secondary hull is usually referred to as the battle section because it mounts the majority of the ship's weaponry and is intended to enter combat or other dangerous situations following a saucer separation." Memory Alpha

This is any project section with it's own workflow. It is very focused and you mean business when you're engaged in "battle mode". Any particular project represented on the Kanban Calendar board, is our lead to move into a more focused working space dedicated to that specific project.

Take a look at my Blog Setup Kanban board, which is all but complete. The project consisted of dozens of individual tasks which needed their own Kanban board and a tailor-made workflow. Once again, here is a public Trello link if you'd like to take a closer look at my Blog Setup board. Also, take a look at the following video clip:

  • Notice how I have stages that fit my particular workflow: Waiting | Later | To Do | Working On | Done | Resolved
  • Some of the subtasks, such as my MailChimp setup, have their own sublists. One can extract the individual tasks to their own stages in the backlogged section, or nestle them in lists within a card. It depends on what works best for you. 
  • One can even have multiple lists within a single card, as in the case of my "Squarespace Template" card. 

...To go where no man has gone before

Each new day is uncharted territory... but you do get a glimpse of what each new day holds if you have a Calendar section on a general-purpose Kanban board. Each new day in your Calendar section streams towards you. Then what? One day at a time, you dissect the next day in your Calendar section and spread each of those tasks among your Eisenhower Matrix stages in the Today section.  What about the empty shell that remains? Set your phaser to "kill" and delete/ archive that list. It is no longer needed. Or if you're feeling benevolent, set your phaser to "stun" and move that list to the back of the line, renaming the title to the next date in line.  

For a whole lot more on the Kanban Calendar topic, please do take a look at the +Categories > Kanban Calendar Posts link at the header of this blog. I hope you do find the growing collection of posts - in the words of Mr. Spock and Mr. Data - "fascinating" and "intriguing".