Note from the writer: I wrote this back when I was on a big Trello kick. I don’t use it anymore personally, but I do still feel that it could be a valuable tool for others. — Ben
In this post, I’m going to show you how to use a free tool to change your life for the better. You’ll be better organized, forget less stuff and get more done.
Let me begin by saying that I’ve tried almost every productivity tool out there. I’ve set them up, gotten a good feel for them… and then abandoned them. Of course, part of that is my own fault, but part of the blame falls on the tools themselves.
Whatever method you follow — GTD, Covey, Eisenhower, etc. — your task management tool needs to do three things:
- Be fast.
- Be simple.
- Be reliable.
Some people might say, “No, it needs to be powerful with lots of features!” I would counter that by saying that even a nerd like me rarely uses most of those advanced features.
What you want is a tool that makes it easy — even fun — to be productive and get things done. That’s the tool you’ll continue to use over the long haul. And less time spent looking for the perfect tool means more time doing the important stuff.
So Why Trello?
It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s reliable. On top of that, it’s awesome for visual people like myself. I’d venture to say that it’s fun to use, something that’s rare in the productivity space.
The basic concept of Trello comes from kanban which means billboard in Japanese. A Toyota engineer invented it back in the 1940s to make their factories more efficient. Think of it like using an electronic whiteboard with several columns. You can move tasks or projects from column to column to track their status.
This quick video from Trello should help you visualize it:
What Can You Do With It?
You can do almost anything with Trello. I use it to track all my personal tasks and projects using four columns:
- Backlog. Anytime a new task or project comes to mind, I put it in this column.
- Not Started. Each day, I grab a few items from the Backlog column and put them here to make sure I get them done that day.
- In Progress. If I’m working on a project that has several steps and will take a few days to get done, I put it in this column. It helps me not overload myself, and it makes sure I finish what I start.
- Complete. This column is my favorite, because it’s where all the stuff that’s done goes. It’s so satisfying to see those completed items stack up.
Of course, there are several other things you can do with Trello. It’s great for tracking projects with a team, since each person can contribute at the same time. Some people even use it as a sort of virtual vision board to keep themselves motivated.
Trello themselves actually maintain a list of cool board ideas on their website. You can view the list here. A couple of neat ideas that I like are:
- Keeping Up With Friends. This board has a column for each month. You can add the friends you want to touch base with each month to the appropriate column. It’s designed for people like me who are terrible at keeping in touch with all their friends (but I’m getting better, I swear!).
- Agile Household. This board helps you manage all the little things that need to get done in your household. It’s great for sharing with your significant other so that you can both keep track of things.
- Job Search. This board assists you with keeping track of your job hunt. It’s awesome for tracking the status of applications, interviews, etc.
To recap, Trello is a fast, simple and reliable productivity tool. It’s easy to use and makes getting things done kind of fun. And it’s great for individuals or teams. Will you love it? I don’t know. You might hate it, but in my humble opinion you owe it to yourself to at least give it a try. Did I mention it’s free?