How I use Trello to organize my life

If you’re anything like me, you have a billion ideas running through your head at once. I’ll see something I like on Pinterest or Instagram and it’ll spark an idea for a product or something I want to do in my class and I’ll write it in my planner or a random sticky note, only for the idea to get lost. I don’t have time to continuously scroll Instagram for what I previously saw, so I needed a better way to keep myself and my ideas organised. Enter: Trello!

Trello describes itself as “online project management tool”, but don’t let those business-y phrases turn you off! The best way I can think of explaining it is a warehouse for all your to-do lists. It works on desktops and it has a handy app for when an idea strikes you and you aren’t at your laptop.

After you sign up, you’ll be prompted to make a “board.” A board is an overall area where you house your specific lists.

For me, I have a teaching board and a personal board. Another handy feature you’ll see on this page is “Create a Team.” When you create a team, you can share an entire board and all it’s cards with another person. I can see this being a very helpful feature to use with your spouse. You could easily have a board for home projects, goal or trip planning, and managing to-dos for your kiddos!

After you click on a board, you get to a page that looks like this:

These are the various lists I have in my Teaching Trello board. While some cards can be filed under multiple lists I generally try to stick to just one so it’s not confusing. I love that I can have multiple lists going in one place and that they are easy to see all at once.

My favourite part of Trello lies within the cards. These are the small “to-do” items under each list title. I think this is really what makes Trello stand out from other similar programs such as Google Keep. You can label your cards with various tags (similar to how the tag for this blog post is “organization”), write a description, add comments and attachments, track your activity, share the card with others, create deadlines, and make checklists. Phew! Below is an example of a card I created in my “To Research” list:

As with most things, it’s hard to know if this is something that will work for you until you give it a try; however, if you are anything like me and live on lists I think you might find it extremely helpful! Here are a few of my top tips for getting started:

  1. Make sure you have a few different board categories. Here are a few that I use: TeachersPayTeachers, Blog Post Ideas, To-do list (these are purely action based things, like ‘cut laminating), To Research, To Buy and Completed Items. I’ve found that this really helps me batch my tasks and get more done.
  2. Create a “completed items” board and put all completed items there instead of deleting them. This lets you have a record of previous items in case you need to revisit them. Also, it feels good to move that card from one of your lists to “completed!”
  3. Schedule a time during the week where you transfer items from your Trello lists onto your calendar. This ensures that you’ve allowed time to get different items done and that things don’t get forgotten. This also allows you to add different things to your Trello lists way ahead of time! Just add a “deadline” so you can get reminded. For example, I knew back in November that I wanted to make special Valentine’s Day bookmarks. I added a card on my “TeachersPayTeachers” list and set a deadline for February 1. It wasn’t forgotten. When I was doing my weekly scheduling in January, I saw the Valentine’s Bookmarks and could easily add them into my weekly planning. Voila!
  4. Be okay with things sitting on your list for an extended period of time. There are things on my Trello that have sat there for months, especially on my “To Research” page. We only have a finite time during the week, month and year, so it’s important that you do the time-sensitive things before tackling the less urgent matters. You can rest assured that you’ll get to it eventually because it’s on your Trello! You won’t forget it.

How do you keep your to-do list organized? Do you use an online system or are you a paper-pencil person? I’d love to hear more about what you do in the comments below!

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