In my previous post on productivity, I was using a pen and paper for my to-do list. Since I use digital tools most of the day, my analog notebook was a healthy break from looking at a screen. I still use my notebook for brainstorming and reflection.
But I’ve now switched to Trello as my central to-do system (I still use a separate email/calendar application, but you can integrate calendars into Trello). Why did I switch? I collaborate with my business and life partner on most projects. As we gained more clients, it became clear that digital tools like Trello would be the easiest way to successfully synchronize across multiple projects.
Since I also work as an educational consultant, I collaborate with teams that use other project management systems. When possible, I automatically sync these systems with my primary platforms (for example, most calendaring systems allow you to copy appointments from one to another). But even if I have to do it manually, I still make sure all my tasks are in one place I can easily refer to without having to log into multiple systems. For me, that’s now Trello.
Here are three benefits of Trello:
You can create multiple boards for multiple projects, or have a “work” and “home” board, which is what I do. Boards have Lists (categories) to which you can add Cards (tasks). By default, there are three Lists on a Board: To Do, Doing, and Done. I tried this arrangement for a few days, and then decided to customize it. My customized lists include Projects/Errands, Social/Family, To Buy/Order, and Volunteering/Charity.
One nice feature of Trello is the ability to set up automations, like having your cards sorted by due date. You can also use color-coded labels (or a color-blind alternative system). I use the yellow label to remind me what we need to get done on our rare sunny days during the winter. Below is a screenshot of the Home & Garden board I share with my partner.
Trello makes it easy to share boards with other people while also having your own boards for individual tasks–all in one place. You can add Board members to specific cards to keep track of who’s responsible for tasks. When someone’s added to a card, they automatically receive notifications for it.
Remember the automation I mentioned? Below is a screenshot of automation options for my Projects/Errands list.
You can choose to have cards on a shared list sorted by votes–a great way to cut down on time often spent in meetings establishing group priorities and preferences. There are templates already created for different project management methods, like Agile.
I love free tools! Many businesses end up paying for tech licenses they don’t fully utilize. I use the freemium model of Trello, and it’s all I need. You can try the Premium version for 14 days, no credit card required, to see if the additional features of unlimited boards, automations, CSV export, priority support, and more are worth the cost for you. Paid plans start at $5.00/month.
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