I’m messy. If you walk into my cozy little 1-bedroom apartment, you’ll notice the clothes won’t necessarily be folded (in fact there’s probably a pile up of dirty laundry waiting to be washed hidden somewhere) and there’s likely a few dishes in the sink patiently waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher.
So, yeah, I’m messy.
But I’m not disorganized, especially not when it comes to work.
When I graduated university a few years ago, I remember surprising myself as I dove head first into a full time 9-5 job. While I could live with disorganization at home, it absolutely drove me bonkers at work. I needed everything filed away nicely in its own tidy home.
Organization enables productivity. While some people thrive in chaos, my mind simply doesn’t operate that way. Lists, a clean desk space, and other organization tactics keeps me sane and on task. So that’s why Trello is my savior.
Okay, perhaps my phrasing is a bit dramatic.
But really, Trello has been instrumental in keeping me on the mark, productive, and constantly moving forward with my days. It helps to organize my life in a way that simple to-do lists scribbled onto a nearby napkin just can’t.
Especially as I continue to take on more freelance clients and expand my business, this compulsive desire to stay organized has become less of a “want” and more of an absolute requirement. Juggling handfuls of clients and lots of different projects that come with varying requirements and tasks, it’s hard to keep track of it all without an organizational tool. Trello has been that tool for me… and did I mention it’s free?
I discovered Trello probably about a year ago. Since then, I’ve used it to manage just about everything in my life. And, yes, I do mean everything. The great thing about Trello is that it can bend and flex to help you manage just about anything you can think of. Since free tools are all the rage, let’s dive into some Trello use cases I’ve enjoyed throughout this past year.
1. Use Trello to Manage Multi-Author Blogs
I was first introduced to Trello when I began writing blogs for a technology company overseas. They managed their dozens of multi-author contributions using Trello… a genius idea!
The process was simple, actually. The manager created a “card” for every blog idea and dropped it right into the “Backlog”. From there, all the authors were able to go into Trello to add their name to a blog card they’d prefer to work on. Once they’d chosen their card and labeled it with their name, they dragged it over to “in progress”. As soon as the blog post was written and loaded into WordPress, the writer dropped the card into “1st review”. From there, the editorial staff would take the baton and work through the editing and revision lifecycle until, eventually, the blog was labeled as “published” and complete.
On my own website I use this same model for tracking my own personal blogging and publishing processes. It’s been awesome!
2. Use Trello to Stay Accountable
Does it feel like your to-do lists are always growing? Do you ever feel absolutely unmotivated to tackle your to-do’s? I have.
That’s why I created an Accountability Board in Trello to keep me on top of my game. My Accountability Board serves as a collaborative space where my accountability partner and I log our weekly goals and track our progress, our successes and our failures. Every Sunday evening, I call up my partner and we discuss our week. The meeting is short, concise and focused heavily on our Trello Accountability Boards. We discuss the goals we set for the week, and plan out how we can do better in the future. We highlight all of our week’s highs and lows and we mentor each other throughout.
While my accountability partner and I are not in business together, we’ve found that we both needed that extra bout of accountability to keep ourselves on track and progressing. Trello has been the perfect tool for us both to collaborate and to keep tabs on one another.
3. Use Trello to stay on top of your Project Management
Beyond accountability, managing each task for specific client projects with Trello has been monumental in my project organization and productivity.
Developing a website for clients is a huge project with lots of different layers and components that need to be considered. A clear outline and plan is an absolute must, and Trello helps to manage those finer details from the preliminary planning phases all the way to the final project tasks.
Awesome Trello Features You’ll LOVE
You can choose to use Trello for just about anything. But, just be sure to check out these awesome features!
I’m a huge fan of the labels that can be renamed and readjusted whenever necessary. On my accountability board, I use the labels to differentiate between my personal goals and professional ones. I also label goals I have for freelance work, and goals for my personal blog.
On my project management boards, I usually use the labels to differentiate the urgency level for each task. Red labels are reserved for the extremely time sensitive tasks, for example.
Checklists are awesome for tracking things like how many miles I want to run in a week. For instance, say I want to run 10 miles, I can create checklist items to check off those miles throughout the week.
Another way to use a checklist is to ensure your goal is executed thoroughly and properly. Say you wanted to publish a blog post and you created a card for that goal. You could create a checklist on that card to ensure you’ve completed all the necessary steps (first review, second review, SEO best practices, etc.).
The fact that I can invite my friend (and accountability partner) to my Trello boards has been one of the most amazing features. Beyond friend-to-friend collaboration, though, there are incredibly ways to make the most out of the collaboration features built into Trello.
If you’re using Trello in the office, Trello makes it easy to collaborate with remote team members. You can also manage and oversee work outsourced to freelancers using the collaboration features.
Collaborating on a board and see a task that you’d really like to be updated on? No problem, just subscribe. Subscription to individual cards on Trello offers up a unique feature that allows board members to tune into cards that specifically pertain to them. Super cool.
Trello is my favorite organization and productivity tool. Simple (and silly) tasks that used to slip through the cracks are easy to manage and tackle head on when they’re right in front of my face on my Accountability board. Plus, it’s hard to skip out on my workouts for the week when I have a friend subscribed to my cards who will see when I don’t meet my goals!
Simply put, Trello has been an awesome resource that has helped me stay productive week in and week out. The best part? It doesn’t cost me a dime!
Go try Trello!
Eden Fried is a freelance web designer and blogger. When she’s not at work developing her website or helping other people launch theirs, you can find her at the gym tossing around some weights or snuggled up to a good book. Follow Eden on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or reach Eden directly on EdenFried.com.