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Paper Kanban

An experiment in tangible to-dos.

I’ve experimented with more than a few to-do apps on my iPhone over the years, but recently I wanted to try something different. The kanban system has really worked for me (three columns of “to-do”, “in progress”, and “done”, and since it’s not practical to put a full-size white board in my pocket I wanted to bring it into notepad form somehow.

So I drew it up in Sketch. There are still three columns, but at the same time there's just one to-do column. Since you can’t really “move” a to-do item on paper once it has been inked, the “in progress” and “done” columns are merely right-margin checkboxes to indicate status. Of course, work in progress should be limited to one, until it is done. Then you can start the next task by marking it as “in progress”. (see below)

Eventually I printed about 90 pages of this template (two pages A6 paper, double-sided for four pages), stitched up the signatures like so, and bound it in kimono fabric 1 (below). The book is A7 size, perfect for any pocket.

There’s no unlock screen. No app to launch. Just scratch a quick note.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I’m really enjoying just making something. If you’d like to follow along, wherever that may be, sign up for notifications below.



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  1. Technically it’s obi, which is rather thick. I won’t use this next time.  ↩