Robin Naughton, PhD

Adding Kanban for Outlook Tasks

Outlook tasks are good on their own, but sometimes you want a bit more.  Since I’ve been using Kanban, a project management method, I wanted my Outlook tasks to reflect that style.

First, I checked Outlook itself to see if there were add-ons that would accomplish this goal.  There was one for Outlook 2013 that provided Kanban for tasks.  It was a great idea and I tried it. However, there were a few limitations:

  • It was based on mail rather than tasks, so it required being in a mail item to view Kanban.
  • In Outlook tasks, it was not available.  This was the major limitation.

I continued my search and encountered a good implementation on LinkedIn described by DMA/Donna Michelle Anderson that uses the source files found on Frederik’s GitHub.  I appreciated the detailed step-by-step implementation guide.


First, follow implementation guide:

It was a good guide. I followed the implementation as closely as possible.

Time: I took about 15 minutes to get it all working and it was as expected. I was impressed and knew I needed to try it out a bit.

Second, review the results:

I liked the setup and it worked overall, but there were a few things that needed to change so that it would work better for me.

  • Dragging tasks: It’s great to drag a task from one folder to the next, but I wanted my tasks to always appear on the Outlook Today screen.  Only tasks that appear in the “Tasks” folder show up on the Today screen.  Dragging tasks to other folders meant that those tasks wouldn’t appear on the Today screen.
  • Task Status: Although Kanban view folders are status based, Outlook tasks also have a status. Moving tasks in Kanban view does not update the Outlook task status. Thus, only in Kanban view would the status of a task be known.
  • Multiple Projects: Using Outlook categories is a great way to organize projects.  The Kanban view took advantage of this, but if you work on multiple projects at once, it would require updating the code with each category.  Every new project would always require this update.

Time: I took the rest of the day to use it while working on my daily projects.

Third, personalize it:

There was no need for multiple folders.  Only one folder was important (“Kanban View”) and even that folder was not necessary (It can be implemented directly on the tasks folder). However it was better to have Kanban View as a separate folder so that I can continue to have my original tasks folder with an alternative view.  I disabled dragging by remove multiple folders.  I used task status to move tasks from one place to the next. I removed category from the code and used Outlook views to display multiple projects.

Here’s what I did:

  • Modified the index page as follows:
    • <param name=”Folder” value=”Tasks”>  – Every folder in will now look at the same tasks folder.
    •  <param name=”Restrictions” value=”[Status]=’Not started'”> –  Changed the category parameter so that the view can display all projects regardless of category.   For each folder, set the value to the status that appears in Outlook.
      • Backlog = “Not Started”
      • In Progress = “In Progress”
      • Waiting on Someone Else = “Waiting on Someone Else”
  • Modify the CSS to change the background colors.
  • In Outlook, modify the tasks view to display categories when I’m in the Kanban View.

Time: I took a few days to think through the implementation and a couple hours to implement and test.

Now, there is no drag and drop in Kanban View but when I update the status of a task, it automatically goes to the correct board in Kanban view while still showing up on my Today screen. When a task is checked as complete, it disappears from my Kanban view.

I very much appreciate finding and using this Kanban View.  I hope my tweaks help someone else to create their version as well.


Posted on LinkedIn