Everybody is looking for a task management tool. While there are millions out there like Asana, Todoist, Nozbe, Wunderlist, and a bajillion others, the best I’ve found is Trello. On its own Trello is a great task management tool, but I’ve found a system that takes it to the next level. I want to share my process to organize your life with Trello.

My Trello process has helped me to take my big picture goals, turn them into specific action points, and make those happen. It’s more than just a great task management tool; it’s something that helps me actually GET VALUABLE THINGS DONE and not just spin my gears checking things off a check-list.

If you’re looking for a task management tool or just want to organize your life with Trello, then feel free to copy my process and make it work for you.

Why I Use Trello

1. I love the way it looks – being able to drag things over and visually see where everything is.

2. It’s powerful, yet simple. All the features I need, yet none that are too complicated.

3. It’s free.

4. Easy to collaborate if you want to share with others.

5. Cool things you can do within your tasks, like add labels, checklists, and due dates.

Overview of My Trello Task Management System

1. Document my projects for the quarter

2. Plan each week

3. View progress of completion throughout the week

4. Celebrate achievements

5. Log ideas for the future

Now, let’s dive into each part of how to organize your life with Trello.

1. Document my projects for the quarter

I’ll explain my quarterly planning process in another blog post, but for brevity’s sake- let’s assume I’ve already decided what things I’m going to focus on for the next 90 days.

I go to Trello, and go to my Life Dashboard “board”. Insider there, I’ll go to my “Backlog” list. If you want to see a live Trello board while going through this post, click here to bring up an example board.

how_to_use_trello

This is where I list all the tasks I want to work on this quarter. I list out everything that I am going to work on, and I try to be as granular as possible. It’s up to you HOW detailed you want to be.

Let’s say my project is: “Run a 5k.” If I put that in my backlog, it’s great, but it’s not very specific. There’s nothing I can drag over each week. So, I might break it down like this.

what_is_trello

I could alternatively break it down by “Run for an hour each week”, and make that a recurring task that I pull over into my sprint each week.

As you add tasks in there, EVERYTHING should have a label. I use colored labels to organize everything by category. This is how I make sure that everything on the backlog is actually a priority. Start by making your labels your priority categories (relationships, finances, fitness, etc.)

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-2-28-38-pm

Make sure every task has a label, if you’re not sure what label to give it then it’s probably not actually a priority and you should rethink adding that task to your backlog. If possible start assigning “value points”. Don’t get caught up on using a specific number… the point is that you want to compare everything relatively. I put the number in brackets right before the task, like this.

trello_personal_task_manager

So pick one item, and just give your best guess as to how much value it will bring. You can use any scale. I prefer 1 to 10. Then pick another task, and ask “Is it MORE valuable than this other task? Or less valuable?” Then ask, “How much more or less?” That should help you pick a number. Continue to do this until all (or at least most) of your tasks have an educated guess of how much value they’ll bring. This will help you to choose what to work on each week.

2. Plan each week

I have a pretty detailed weekly review and planning process, which I’ll go into more thoroughly in another blog post. One critical element of any weekly planning process is deciding what you’re going to work on for the upcoming week.

My favorite way to do this is to start by checking my calendar and making any notes about specific things coming up that week (any meeting or anything outside of work). I then add tasks for these to my “To Do – [week]” list.

how_to_use_trello

Next, I begin to pull things over from the Backlog list. As I pull things over, I think “what’s the most valuable thing I can work on this week?” and “what’s going to move the needle?” This is why it helps to have value points assigned to tasks, because you’ll be able to easily identify which ones have the highest value and drag them over.

I try to make sure that I have something from every priority category (my labels) on my list for the week, and that I don’t have too much going on in any one category, unless it’s something I know I need to focus heavily on for the week.

I aim for about 100 value points each week, but it’s hard to plan exactly, because some tasks may have a value of 5, but take me a couple of hours. Or some may have a value of 10 but take ten minutes. Just experiment with something small at first and get a baseline for yourself.

The goal is that each week, I accomplish as much value as I can with the time that I have. Regardless of whether I spend 2 hours working or 20 hours working. This helps me to always prioritize doing things that have the highest value and not necessarily just the highest effort. If I see that one week I didn’t get as many total value points as the week before, then it means I was spinning my gears that week, but not necessarily doing the most valuable stuff.

And yes I track this each week in case you’re wondering. 🙂 If you’d like to track it, you can see my Value Tracker and copy to use for yourself.

organize_your_life_with_trello

3. View progress of completion throughout the week

I plan my day every night before I go to bed. To do this, I pull tasks that are on deck for the week over to the to “To Do – Today” list. When deciding what I want to pull over, I think about my daily themes.

trello_personal_task_management

I don’t live by these religiously… they’re more like guidelines that I use when I’m deciding what to work on each day. But if there’s something that I want to work on sooner because I’m more excited about it, OR if something NEEDS to happen sooner because of a deadline, then I’ll pull it over even if it doesn
t correspond to the daily theme.

As I start on a project, I move it to “Doing”, and once the task is completed, I move it to “Done”.

organizing_your_life_with_trello

I try not to put too many on deck for the “To Do – Day”, because then I don’t know where to start. Also, I consider things that are sitting in “doing” first, as those are typically a priority to finish before dragging over anything else to “to do”.

In a traditional Kanban system (similar to what I am doing), I would limit how many tasks I had in each stage. I’ve thought about this a few times, but it’s never really been an issue. If things are sitting in doing, it’s often because I’m waiting on something, or I just got excited about another task and wanted to run with that momentum.

I think my favorite part of this system is seeing all of my tasks for the week move from “To Do” to “Done”. It’s like that feeling when you vacuum and you can see the dust and dirt vanishing.

I also like being able to tell the status of a project at any point. If I’m wondering about “Blog post on x”, then I know that I haven’t even started on it, it’s a work in progress, or it’s already taken care of. All at a glance. If I get to Thursday and there’s not enough in “Done” and too much sitting in “To Do”, I know I’ve got to get a move on!

At the end of the week, if any tasks are sitting in “To Do” or “Doing”, I spend some time reflecting on why they didn’t happen, and then I move them to “To Do” for the next week. (Aka – I rename my “To Do – [week]” with the current week.) Then, I review the tasks that are sitting in “Done”. I add all the total points of value and log it in my tracker. Then, I move big ones to the “Yay!” list (more on that in a second), and I archive all the other cards.

4. Celebrate achievements

Another list I use is titled “Yay!”. You can call it whatever you want. You just need to remember to celebrate.

I’m not great at this. It’s too easy for me to be like “yep cool, what’s next?”. But the truth is, each week, I’m getting things done. I’m getting a little bit closer to my goals for the quarter. I’m getting better at developing my system. I’m learning new things and sharing them with other people. I’m freaking having a blast and living the life I want to be living. Why wouldn’t I celebrate that?

I use my “Yay!” list to keep track of some of my bigger and favorite tasks and I look through them over the quarter to reflect on the progress I’m making. It’s encouraging to see those tasks start on the backlog, get “done”, and then be celebrated.

trello_best_practices

5. Log ideas for the future

The last list I have is actually the very first one on my board. It’s called “Next Quarter” and it’s where I drop all of my ideas of things I want to tackle in the future.

I get ideas all the time. On average, I probably think of about 30 different things each week that I want to try out. (I know this, because I actually count them.) And I could keep myself busy each and every week by just doing half of them as I come up with them.

Of course they’re all wonderful ideas and I should do every single one. 🙂 But realistically, I can’t do them all. And I shouldn’t. So instead of acting on those ideas right away, I assess them all at the end of the week. If I still think they’re winners, I add them to “Next Quarter” and try really hard not to add them to the “Backlog” of things to do this quarter. Otherwise, I can get distracted with new ideas and not accomplish the other things I already determined are valuable.

best_trello_tips

I’m not incredibly strict about adding things on this list, because it won’t make it on the “Backlog” or on my “To Do” list for the week without more thought. And I don’t want to worry about thinking about it while I’ve already got plenty of other important stuff to work on.

How do you organize your life with Trello?

If you want to see the entire board, click here! Feel free to copy and use the exact same format, or tweak it to whatever works best for you. The important idea is that you want a system that helps you take your goals and make them happen. This is what I’ve found works for me, so give it a try and see if it helps you out, too!

img_1095_500

This is a Trello-selfie. Also known as a “Trell-fie”. Yeah, you’re welcome.

3 thoughts on “5 Step Process For Organizing Your Life With Trello

    1. Hahah! Such a huge fan. And yet, I’m part of the trello slack community and there is a whole army of wonderful Trello nerds!!

Comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s