How To Manage Your To-Dos with 6 Folders (2/2)

Portable Scrum or Kanban Board -- Do It Yourself Project; © 2013 Jens R. Woinowski,

The Lean Self 6 Folders approach is one way to use Kanban for managing your to-dos.

Here is the routine I suggest for pulling to-dos through the process:

  1. Every time you work on your to-dos, apply the 5Ds to the today list discussed earlier. For delaying, put the to-do into the “this week” or “this month” folder. The reminders for checking results of delegation are handled the same.
  2. Make a to-do review once every day. I suggest the morning for this. Look at “this week” and put everything into “today” you want to do today.
  3. On Mondays, put everything from “this week” into the “today” folder. These are tasks you did not finish in time.
  4. Check if there is something in “this month” which should go to “today” or “this week.”
  5. On the first day of every month, put everything from “this month” into “today” or “this week”, depending on its urgency. Again, these tasks have not been finished in time.
  6. Check if something from “this year” should be moved to “later”, “this week”, or “this month.”
  7. During the first week of every year, move the unfinished tasks from “later” to one of the other folders, if possible.

If you want, you can attach traffic lights to your folders. You can do it according to your personal assessment of the folder list or you can use standard coloring rules. I would suggest the following rules.

  • Green will be the initial color.
  • Every time you move a task to a folder which has been delayed (steps 3, 5, or 7), mark the target folder yellow if it is green or red if the target folder was yellow already.
  • Additionally, you can mark every folder yellow with more than three entries and every folder red with more than seven entries.

Using traffic lights makes evaluating your to-do performance a standard behavior. The colors are a qualitative measure of waiting waste.

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3 comments on “How To Manage Your To-Dos with 6 Folders (2/2)

  1. Stuart on said:

    Just found your website and I’m enjoying your perspective and learning. I like this visual system very well. What do you recommend for the things that are standard work already, e.g. leading a daily gemba walk? Would you move that To-Do around the board each day, then back to start?

    • Jens R. WoinowskiJens R. Woinowski on said:

      I’m happy you like what I write. For regular tasks, I don’t have a definite answer. Cycling the to-dos is one way. At work I do that for monthly tasks. You could also create a checklist on an erasable board (whiteboard or just a laminated piece of paper), maybe arranged by days of the week. Check when you did something and erase in the morning. Might be better than cluttering the to-do board with too many regular tasks which then make the important other things “hide in the background.” Besides, shuffling the same notes around daily sounds a little like over-processing. Anyhow, personal (or team) preferences rule…

      • Stuart on said:

        Thanks…good suggestions. Easy way to pull the non-standard things through amid daily standard work. I’ll try this out as an experiment.

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