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I see a question out there for ongoing tasks handling those in kanban. I am asking more about how to handle lengthier tasks with Kanban.

Currently I have a board and I run the following columns: Backlog, TODO, Today, Doing, Done (with a box for a priority item in today, and an ER box in doing, finally a waiting box for those tasks I cannot complete due to others, but as soon as they do their part I can resume).

So say I have a project I am working on, or even maybe a time consuming presentation to prepare. A task like "prep presentation for XXX" or "design for project YYY" could run for quite a while and throw off the "doing" column and all other columns before it.

I can't truely queue up to my WIP limit because in reality the longer running task will prevent me from getting through my "Today" queue of items.

Looking for possible solutions out there.

I am considering doing the following: "X" out boxes in those columns when I realisticly can see I won't be able to move tasks through due to constraint (capacity). On my task cards in the upper right corner put a "slots consumed" number for those larger tasks and when those get into a column they take up maybe 2 or 3 blocks instead of just one (span across multiple).

What works best for this problem?

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Are your longer running tasks things like server maintenance or running reports? Like repetitive tasks? – Jim Benson May 18 at 18:24
I dont see a problem here. Either split the activities futher down or just accept that you'll move less cards around in a day. Moving cards around feels good but "items done today" is a very bad metric for productivity. When you work the whole day on one item then you might be way more productice than doing 30 things that werent that important anyway – Jonas Dralle Jun 7 at 12:13
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It seems like you need to break down those "too big to chew on in one bite" tasks into smaller pieces and go through those instead of one huge chunk of task. One-off huge tasks not only look and feel daunting, they are also harder to gauge progress and can often feel like you haven't done much.

If you are using source control, another benefit of smaller tasks is that you can create branches for each of those tasks and roll out those changes one at a time if what you are doing can be orchestrated that way.


Too Big - Revamp Website Design

Just Right - Revamp Home Page Design

You can break it down even further on that "Home Page Design" task if the page is complicated: "Design Header & Footer".

I hope this answers your question.

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This is one of the issues I have found as well whilst being new to the board. I want to firstly ask, what for you, is the difference between today and doing? I guess that doing works across several days and today is just for that day?

Personally, I use a diary for smaller tasks to be done that day and Kanban for bigger tasks that might stretch over several days or more.

It's true that the key is to break down the tasks, as mentioned already. But I would also suggest to you to work out how many hours you actually have in a day to address your 'daily' tasks, and how many for your 'doing' or long term tasks. You might find that you don't have near as many hours as you first thought.

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