Helping my Family’s Prayer Life with a Kanban Board

prayerlife with a Kanban Board

My husband keeps teams moving all week long. Whether kids on the ball field, or coworkers on a project, he knows that if individuals do not know what is important to do right now or have feedback on their work, the whole team will flounder. So one day when quarantine hit and he saw me working like a dog v. the kids lazily reading in their pjs, he said, “I think we need a Kanban board.”

the kids were still in their pjs at noon

Maybe it was the pile of dishes and crumbs all over the floor or maybe it was the wide-eyed sleepless look I portrayed as I tried to digitally teach high school theology classes from home, publish a book on prayer, lead my little ones in their own remote learning, grocery shop for grandparents, stop the spread of the virus, and, and, and. You know the feeling. We are all there.

the work just doesn’t stop

Some of my kids were excited about this project because it involved design, decorating and something new. Others were suspicious and bored before the board even went up. But they are good-hearted and went along with it.

What is a Kanban Board?

Kanban is a Japanese word meaning “visual signal”. More technically the board, is “an agile project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow)” according to Atlassian.  Businesses use them all the time to keep projects moving. The basic idea is that you have tasks that need to be done. You move a task from one column (or picture frame) to another when it becomes a priority, is in process, completed or can be deferred. Companies have digital versions of something much more complicated than this:

My family cleared a 6 foot spot on a wall that was central to everyone’s comings and goings and set to work on this messy, still in progress masterpiece. Don’t worry, you can see exactly how we did it with these – step by step instructions. It was great to get everyone going again – it provided motivation to do the things that make me happy (a clean house) and gave them the flexibility and rewards of free-time. They were directed toward their personal goals. But the best thing?

The best thing was…

My kids started to initiate their own daily prayer/devotion time.

Having a daily prayertime posted on the Kanban board gave me the opportunity to daily direct my kids into prayer without any nagging on my part. I would simply put a little note up there that changed weekly, something like, “share with someone an idea that came to you during prayer today.” For two months straight, everyone did a morning offering and devotional time. Although this is something that I have taught my teenagers literally since they were babies, it has been a struggle over the years. A struggle with wonderful moments. Lots of snuggle times, reading the bible, talking to Jesus or kissing the crucifix. But I must say, often it feels like dragging 50 lbs of jello across the floor. I’m so worried I might lose some – break up the integrity or not get it going at all. The Kanban Board really helped.

Checklists Helped

Pretty soon, we realized there were tons of little notes on the board that kept getting repeated so we made it into a small sized daily checklist that lives on the board M-F.

Click here for a sample daily checklist that you can use with your kids today.

Sunday is Special

I too felt the flexibility, accountability and the rhythm of the Kanban Board. We can keep a sense of week day v. weekend. On Sunday, the chores are wiped away and this is what the to do list looks like:

Of course, there are plenty of things always hanging out on the backlog but we know that all we need to do in THIS moment is GOD’S WILL. The rest can wait till the right time.

Affirm the Good Work

One of the things that the business world emphasizes about Kanban boards is verification by another person that the work is done. My husband and I are very loose about this. I ascribe to the random method. Frequently but not regularly, I ask a kid to re-do something. Or, more often than that, I leave some money on the “done” board. Sometimes it is announce ahead of time by a dollar sign on the post-it note but more often, I leave it as a surprise. This keeps it a bit more fun.

Of course, money and candy are not the only ways to say, “thank you,” “I see what you did,” “you make a difference around here.” I love affirmation.

Make it Your Own

This Kanban board is not quite the traditional business work flow chart but we have adapted it to suit our needs very well. Here you can get my step by step instructions for what we do. I’m sure you could come up with a lot of your own twists on it. In fact, I love to chat chores and prayer!!! Please drop me a line below and let me know your own adaptations.


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