In our recent post, we looked at how Kanban boards can be used as a great tool for helping to manage workload effectively.
While this tool originally came to prominence as a visual management tool used in manufacturing organizations they can also be a great tool for personal use if you need a bit of help in managing your todo list.
Now just to say this from the off – Kanban boards work best as a visual management tool. They are not called a board for nothing! But if you just want something software based then yes you can create a Kanban board in Excel by following these simple steps.
1 Design your flow
A Kanban board has columns that describe the stage of the process (or the flow) that your task follows – in the example below we’ll look at 3 simple columns
1. To do – my list of tasks to manage
2. In work – tasks I’ve started
3. Done – tasks I’ve completed
The first task is to create a worksheet that matches that flow. In the example below I’ve used 3 columns (that way I have enough room to display my card). I merged the first one and use it as a title. I then format the “title” cell in a color to make it stand out.
I segregate each column by a further column formatted black to clearly segment each “flow” column
In the “in work” column I have put the maximum number of cards (or tasks) that I can have at any one time – in this case 5. This means I can only be working on 5 tasks at once. Now, this is down to your personal choice but for me, 5 seems to work.
Here is what my finished board looks like
The next stage is to build your task card. For me I wanted the following:
a) The task name
b) A description
c) The task Priority (i use either High or Low)
d) Due date (when the task has to be completed)
e) % complete – how complete is the task (I use increments of 25%)
When I designed the card I found it best that it matched the column size of the board, so in this instance 3 columns.
I also found it best if I merged several rows (I use 4) and the columns for the description part. (in the formatting for this element ensure you select “wrap text” so you don’t screw up your formatting.)
I then use formatting to color my cards.
I have 3 separately formatted cards, these are for
a) Standard tasks
b) Priority/super urgent tasks (I use Red on these to indicate the importance)
c) Unplanned tasks (I format these cards orange).
Here’s what my cards look like
In my workbook, I have two sheets, one for the board and one with the blank cards on.
I then cut and paste the cards onto my “Kanban Board” and fill them out as required.
When a task/card flows to the next column I simply use cut and paste to move it.
This system is relatively simple to set up and is more than adequate if you have a moderately sized to-do list.
Excel Kanban Board Example
Here’s what my finished board looks like
As an alternative to using worksheet cells for the cards, you can use text boxes (again you can format them different colors) but I found that using formatted Cells were easier to manage (but your mileage may vary!).
Again, once you have basic board established, I just use Excel’s cut-and-paste to move things around.
The above tutorial is for an ultra-simple board. Your flow may look different and you may want to design your cards to hold different information. They key is to try it out and modify the principle until you get something that works for you. So why not give it a try and set up your own Kanban Board Template in excel.
I think that managing your to-do list is one of the biggest challenges that many of us face and to do it well you need a system. For me having a Kanban board made me much more efficient which is why I set up my template – I hope you found it useful. I’d love to know how you get on by following the steps (and if you’ve found modifying it gets even better results).
As ever I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this tutorial in the comments section below.