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Mastering Task Management with Multiple Kanban Boards in Obsidian

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Introduction

It is easy to become overwhelmed by your ever-growing to-do list? It can often be a struggle to keep track of tasks across different projects and priorities? If this is you, then it’s time to take control of your workflow with Obsidian’s Kanban plugin. This powerful tool can transform the way you approach task management, helping you stay organized, focused, and productive. It also has considerably more power than what may be obvious to the naked eye initially.

In this article and accompanying video, we will explore these additional features and how, combined with a couple of other Obsidian community plugins, you can turn Kanban boards into a task management powerhouse.

Introduction to Obsidian and Kanban Plugin

There is an earlier article and video on the Obsidian Kanban plugin you can view to obtain more information on the basics. If you haven’t read the earlier article though, a quick overview follows.

Obsidian is a versatile note-taking and personal knowledge management application that has gained immense popularity among productivity enthusiasts. One of its standout features is the Kanban plugin, which allows you to create virtual Kanban boards directly within your Obsidian vault.

For the uninitiated, Kanban boards are visual project management tools that help you break down tasks into distinct stages, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.” By organizing your tasks in this manner, you can easily prioritize, track progress, and maintain a clear overview of your workload.

Benefits of Using Kanban for Task Management

The beauty of Kanban boards lies in their simplicity and effectiveness. By presenting your tasks in a visual format, you can quickly identify bottlenecks, spot opportunities for multitasking, and experience the psychological satisfaction of moving tasks across the board as you complete them. They are also flexible in that you can set them up by naming the columns whatever suits your personal style.

Creating your first Kanban board in Obsidian is a breeze. Simply open the Kanban plugin, create a new board, and customize the columns to suit your workflow. You can add, edit, and delete cards with ease, ensuring that your board accurately reflects your current tasks and priorities.

Creating Multiple Kanban Boards for Different Purposes

One of the strengths of Obsidian’s Kanban plugin is its flexibility. Our lives are complex and multi-faceted. Managing life with one Kanban board is more than likely out of the question and can be overwhelming. The solution is to have multiple boards to manage different areas and projects.

The Obsidian Kanban plugin allows you to create multiple boards to manage different aspects of your life, such as daily tasks, long-term projects, reading lists, and more. By separating your tasks into distinct boards, you can maintain a clear focus and avoid the clutter of a single, overcrowded board.

Options for Displaying Multiple Boards

Obsidian’s split-pane functionality allows you to view multiple Kanban boards simultaneously, providing you with a comprehensive overview of your workload. Alternatively, you can toggle between a single board view and a multi-board view, depending on whether you need a focused or unfocused work environment. Views are achieved in Obsidian by right-clicking on a tab and splitting to the right or down. The images below demonstrate four Kanban boards visible on the Obsidian screen all at once. This can provide a simple visual matrix from which tasks can be moved from one board to another.

The true power of Obsidian’s Kanban plugin lies in its ability to facilitate seamless task management across multiple boards. You can effortlessly drag and drop tasks between boards or create linked tasks, ensuring that your priorities are always in sync.

Figure 1: Four Kanban Matrix view in Obsidian

Figure 1: Four Kanban Matrix view in Obsidian
Source: Screenshot by author

Alternative Views

We all have differing preferences for managing information. If the matrix appears too overwhelming, there is an alternative that may help.

  1. Open your four (or more) Kanbans in the main pane.
  2. Select the Daily Kanban
  3. Split the pane to the right by right clicking on the tab for Daily Kanban
  4. You will now have the Daily Kanban in the right pane and the three others in tabs on the left
  5. You can now work on one Kanban at a time with the Daily Kanban

This view may be easier than the matrix for some. Simply explore the screen setup to determine what is best for you.

Why Use a Today Board for Daily Priorities

One effective strategy is to create a dedicated ‘Today’ board for your daily tasks. By selecting and moving tasks from your other boards to this central hub, you can maintain a clear focus on your immediate priorities. At the end of the day, any incomplete tasks can be moved back to their respective boards or rescheduled for the following day.

Optimizing the Workflow with Custom Features

Obsidian’s Kanban plugin offers a wealth of customization options, allowing you to tailor your boards to your specific needs. You can explore features like color-coding, tags, or priority indicators to further enhance your productivity. Additionally, you can leverage third-party plugins or scripts to unlock even more powerful capabilities. It is possible to create boards with different colour backgrounds through the use of CSS snippets, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

While Obsidian’s core Kanban functionality is powerful on its own, leveraging complementary plugins can take your productivity to new heights. Two invaluable additions are the Homepage and Workspaces Plus plugins.

The Homepage Plugin: Your Launchpad for Productivity

The Homepage plugin allows you to designate a specific note or workspace as your default view when opening Obsidian. This simple yet effective feature ensures that you’re immediately greeted by your preferred Kanban board setup, eliminating the need to navigate through multiple panes and windows. You can even configure the plugin to open a particular workspace when Obsidian is launched with no open notes, streamlining your workflow right from the start.

Workspaces Plus: Mastering Multi-Board Management

As you incorporate more Kanban boards into your system, managing and switching between them can become cumbersome. Enter the Workspaces Plus plugin, a game-changer for multi-board navigation. This plugin allows you to create and save custom workspace layouts, each displaying a specific combination of Kanban boards in a predetermined arrangement.

With Workspaces Plus, you can effortlessly toggle between different workspace configurations using hotkeys or the command palette. For example, you might have one workspace dedicated to your daily tasks, another for long-term projects, and yet another for academic or research-related boards. This level of organization and instantaneous switching can significantly boost your focus and productivity.

Together, the Homepage and Workspaces Plus plugins form a powerful duo, enabling you to optimize your Kanban workflow from the moment you open Obsidian. By streamlining access to your preferred board layouts and minimizing context-switching overhead, you can spend more time actually working on your tasks, rather than juggling between different views and setups.

Productivity Systems: Personalization Over Prescription

While this article provides a solid foundation for using Obsidian’s Kanban plugin, it’s important to remember that productivity systems are highly personal. What works for one individual may not be the perfect fit for another. Embrace experimentation and be willing to adapt the layout, features, and workflows to discover what resonates best with your unique working style.

Conclusion

Developing an effective personal productivity system is an ongoing journey of trial and error. Treat the system outlined in this article as a starting point and be open to continuous improvement. Share your setups, modifications, and feedback with the Obsidian community to foster a collaborative environment where we can all learn and grow together.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into Obsidian’s Kanban plugin and experience the transformative power of visual task management. Subscribe for more content on leveraging Obsidian for increased productivity, and don’t forget to share.

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