Summer Kanban – Zoe’s POV

At the end of week one I held a short retrospective with Zoe.  I kept it simple and asked 3 questions:

  1. How do you feel about using the board overall?
  2. What do you like about it?
  3. What don’t you like about it?

Despite some complaining I got at the start of the conversation when we were setting up her tasks for the next day, her responses to my retrospective questions were largely positive. Here’s my summary of what she had to say.

  1. How do you feel about using the board overall?
    She said she really likes it. She felt it made her less likely to procrastinate and helped her avoid having to do everything in one day. She said that as a visual learner and someone who likes hands on, this was was right up her ally.
  2. What do you like about it?
    Zoe said she felt it made a long to-do list a lot less overwhelming and more organized. It helped her to plan each day and served as a good reminder.  She also said it was fun and felt good to move the post-it notes over to the done column.
  3. What don’t you like about it?
    Zoe’s biggest dislike was she felt it was a little overwhelming and it was hard to know what to start first. She thought she might like it broken down more, but as we talked about it we came to the conclusion that what was missing was priorities. She also felt she might want the board to be online, but as we discussed that further we agreed that having it in the kitchen where we can all see it was better because we couldn’t forget about it.


Action items I took away from our discussion were:

  • Add priorities to tasks once they are moved into the “Doing Today” column
  • Don’t overload the “To Do” column – more stuff can be added as needed
  • Press on despite moments of complaining or eye-rolling


We started the new week with priorities as you can see…


Zoe also found a creative way to indicate something was partially done – see “Clean Room”

As you can see from the “Done” column, Zoe is off to Cape Cod for a few days. She didn’t bring the boar with her so I guess all these other tasks will have to wait while she’s at the beach. Fair enough.52028331865__A6B678BA-7617-4F16-AA54-C8289F16F212

Summer Kanban – Week 1

I created the board very simply using posterboard, tape and, of course, Post-it notes. My daughter, Zoe, was much more receptive to this entire idea than I thought she would be which really pleased me. We sat down together and came up with some tasks for the To Do section.  It was one task per Post-it so we repeated a few like “Go for a run.” The tasks were a mix of school work (summer math, reading, etc.), chores, and workouts to help her meet her fitness goals.

Here’s how our board looked on Sunday:


I reviewed the “rules” with Zoe and my husband, Rob, on Sunday. Because I was heading out of town on Sunday night, they were going to have to manage the board while I was gone.  I asked them to send me pictures each day and when I got home on Wednesday night we talked about the progress.  I was happy to see that they had mostly followed the plan.

As expected Zoe selected too many tasks on the first day so she was unable to complete them all. Day 2 was smooth and everything moved from Doing Today to Done. On Wednesday night I noticed there were a couple of items stuck in the Doing Today column so I asked Zoe about them. She said it was raining during the time she set aside for weeding so she was unable to complete that task. I agreed that was reasonable so we indicated that task was blocked. I’m not sure why she was blocked on cleaning her room, but as a parent of a teenage girl, I’m just glad that one got moved over at all.  I’ll let it linger a bit.



  • Overall it has been a successful first week.  As you can see in the Done column, a lot of things made it there which made me happy. I didn’t nag Zoe and I think that made her happy.
  • She did not regularly finish all the tasks for a given day for various reasons – some unavoidable, some avoidable.  I believe potential velocity is something that needs to assessed on a daily basis.
  • I intend to do a short retrospective on the activity with her tomorrow and I’ll publish her point of view next.

Summer Kanban Experiment

My 15 year-old daughter is very active and good about getting her homework done, but when left at home for a day with nowhere to be, she can easily lose the entire day in her phone or Netflix. As you can imagine, it drives me crazy when I get home from work and ask: “Did you do your reading?” or “Did you clean your room as I asked?” or even “Did you eat lunch today?” and instead of the “yes” I am hoping for I get “no” or worse yet, a blank stare.

This summer my daughter is going to 3 different camps, but she will have a total of 4 weeks at home with no real plans. She has things she wants to do with that time like start  running, get her summer reading done, get ahead on chemistry for next year. And I have things I want her to get done like cleaning her room and doing her summer math packet. She also, understandably, wants to have time to do nothing.

In the past I have helped her manage her homework and other chores by using a weekend backlog which we prioritize together. This has been successful for us both because we set the expectations and both agree and then I leave her to it. We check in occasionally but I don’t worry that she’s forgetting something and she doesn’t have me nagging her. I will post more on this later. But for the 4 weeks of summer I think we need something more so I am going to try making a Kanban board for her.

I explained it to her today and we talked about a good spot to keep the board and we listed out some tasks. She leaves for her first camp tomorrow and I will get the Kanban board set up while she is gone. Additionally while she is gone I will also be thinking about:

  • Ways to estimate tasks
  • How many tasks she can reasonably get done in a week (what is a good starting velocity?)
  • How we will check in daily (daily stand up)