Trello For Life!

posted on 11/15/12 at 05:24:44 pm by Joel Ross

Hi. My name is Joel and I'm addicted to Trello.

I'm not afraid to admit it. I started using it just for one little thing - tracking what I was working on for Develomatic. My work with Develomatic usually only takes place after 9 or 10 at night, and remembering exactly where I left off can sometimes be difficult. Trello allowed me to quickly and easily remember where I was when I crashed the night before.

But Trello slowly crept into other facets of my life. It started out being just development related. I tracked side projects with it. Then I started using it to track my TrackAbout tasks. Then I expanded my Develomatic board so we could use it as a team to manage releases. Soon though, I started using it beyond development. I started tracking projects I wanted to do around the house. I tracked my bills. I basically starting using it for everything I could. As I look through my list of boards, I find I have quite a few:

  • Books & Movies: I keep track of what I've read/seen, as well as what I want to read/see. I also use tags to indicate where I can get it (for example, is a movie available on Netflix streaming? Or can I get the ebook from my Library?). The ability to add cover photos is also nice here, because it gives you a nice visual for the item. I also have different lists for movies I want to see versus ones for my family and ones for The Wife and I to watch without kids.
  • Bills: When I get a bill in the mail, I put it on my bills board. I add a card with an amount and due date. Then, when I'm ready to pay bills, I can just go to the board and see what's due soon, and pay them all at once. Eventually, I'd like to get The Wife involved in this one, so she can put new bills in there when she opens the mail or knows about a bill coming soon. I also use Trello Calendar, combined with an ICS feed, to get my due dates right in Google Calendar.
  • Blogging: For a while, I struggled with what to write (evidenced by my lack of posts over the past couple of years). I'd get ideas, but I'd forget about them or not have enough of a thought to constitute a whole post. Now, when I get an idea, I add it to the board. Now that I see it all the time, I'm thinking about it more, and I can add info to the card for the post as I think of new ideas. Eventually, I'll have enough to write a whole blog post, and I'll do it. And now that I'm writing a little bit more, I can use it to track what's been written and schedule when I want to post it, so if I have a week when I don't feel like writing, I can get away with it, and the blog doesn't sit dormant.
  • Event Planning: TrackAbout has an annual DevCon, and we're using a board to plan out our week, including what project(s) we're going to tackle, what we'd like to do for fun in the evenings, and most importantly where we'd like to eat.
  • Development: The bread and butter of Trello for me. I used to put all of my tasks in one board, but eventually I got used to the idea of switching boards often, I eventually split the boards out by project. I now have several development-focused boards, including one for my side projects, another for my TrackAbout tasks, a couple for my Develomatic tasks, and several boards for projects we're working on at work. I also have a public board for Traffic Light.
  • Ideas: I am involved in several boards that just track ideas. These are mostly software ideas, but we also use one to organize our sprint retrospectives after every release.
  • Housework: We'll be putting our house on the market next year, and there's a few things we need to get done. Tracking it is about the only way I can think of to ensure we do it all.

There are also a few others, like ones we used when we were hiring to track candidates through the pipeline and how we're going to divide up the development team to get the work done we need to get done each sprint.

Some of my long term readers may remember that I wrote a post similar to this about 3 years ago talking about how I was managing my tasks then. You'll notice that I've switched tools, and that's because the friction of creating new cards, updating cards, creating new boards, etc. is significantly lower with Trello.

I will say that Trello is not the best tool for tracking some of these things. For example, Goodreads is probably a better way to track books, but I use Trello because it's all in one place, and while it's not the best, it accomplishes my goal.

Still, there's a few things lacking from Trello that I would love to see:

  • Email a card: A lot of my tasks come through email. Rather than use my Inbox as a to-do list, I create a card with the relevant information on it and then file the email. If there was a way to forward an email to Trello and have it create a card for me, that would save some time. I see this working a lot like forwarding plans to TripIt.
  • Notification reminders for due dates. Scratch that. In the time since I started planning this post (in a card on my blogging board, of course!), the Trello team pushed this feature out, and you now get notifications for upcoming due dates.
  • Specifically for the Android app, I want it to remember which list I last looked at for each board. My main board has columns for Far, Near, Here and Done. I spend the majority of my time looking at Here, since this is what I'm doing right now. It's the list I go to every time I pull up the board, but in the Android app, it always starts me out on the Far list. Not a major issue, but an annoyance none the less.

I love that Trello is being actively developed and I'm sure I'll see new features that will help me better organize my life. As it is, I feel I have a much better understanding of what I need to do and I'm more productive because I know what's coming next.

What tools are you using to manage your tasks? Do you keep separate lists for personal versus work tasks? Let me know!

Categories: General, Development