I wanted to start 2016 off with lots of energy and I had some great ideas of what I wanted to do. But I also had a huge backlog in my head of things I wanted or needed to do first before I could start implementing new things.
So January wasn’t as productive or energetic as I had planned.
Around the end of January, a friend was raving about how much she was getting done, and she credited a new tool, Trello, for helping her. So I thought I would give it a shot.
Initial Impressions: Signing up was easy and I was able to get started fast! Even after watching a few tutorials I was confused about the difference between boards and lists. I knew I wanted everything on one page, and none of the tutorials I watched were using multiple boards. So initially I started creating a board for each area I needed to do, when what I needed was a *list* for each one. Only then did I realize you can’t delete boards. I also wasted some time trying to figure out how to create a checklist when I was creating a card. Turns out you can’t do it when you are adding the card, you have to add the card, open it, and then you can add a checklist, due date, etc. Not a huge dealbreaker, but definitely something that could be improved in the interface. I set up lists for each of my businesses, a household list, one for Utah Doulas in Training, and my teaching job at the hospital.
The first week: Once I got my lists set up, I started adding cards to my lists. This was the fun part! Some items were simple things like “Order samples from Miller’s Lab” and others were more complex like “Prep for presentation at birth center”. On the more complex ones, I can create a checklist within that item to break it down further. As I complete items from the checklist, Trello displays a progress bar and lets me know how close I am to completion. For each item on my list, I can create a due date. Items with due dates coming up soon turn yellow and then red when they are past.
I got so many things added to my lists! All the backlog of things spinning in my head, all the things I needed to do this week, and even all the grand ideas!
And then I started knocking things off my lists. My first day, I finished 28 things! Some were from the backlog, some were from my regular weekly routine, and some were even starting on my big ideas! After the first day, the items that were left were more complex and time consuming, so it was a little slower, but over the course of the week, I continued to make progress on all fronts.
Initially, I couldn’t find a way to delete a card or mark it done, and my searching of tutorials lead to me to a board where someone had asked and the answer was that cards couldn’t be deleted, only archived. (I’ve since figured out they’ve added the ability to delete a card) At the time I decided to create a list called “Completed 2/1-2/7” and I started moving things over as I finished them. At the end of the week, I can archive the list and create a new one for the next week. But during the week, I find it motivating to watch the completed items list grow.
The second week: So last week I finished off the easy stuff and the exciting stuff. All that’s left is the harder stuff. It’s getting real. I did knock out some of the not-so-fun stuff I had been procrastinating, but I also added a bunch of stuff that I’d been meaning to do but apparently forgot and knocked those out, too. Still a very productive week but I’m going to have to really buckle down and quit procrastinating on some of these! (Like calling the state sales tax commission to straighten out some errors they made…) I’ve added due dates to some of the most procrastinated stuff so that by the end of the week they’ll turn yellow and then red. I also pinned my Trello lists in my browser so the tab is always there, always ready when I need to do something.
The third week: This week I started making a list called “Tomorrow” – every night before going to bed I move 3-5 cards to the “Tomorrow” list to be my biggest priority. This seems to work pretty well, though it makes me have to do LOTS of horizontal scrolling. Oh for the ability to have lists wrap around below other lists!!! This week I mostly just chugged along, chipping away at the regular things and a few of the long term projects. Signed up for and integrated with the “If this, then that” service so that things I do at regular weekly or monthly intervals will get automatically added to my lists and I won’t have to remember to manually add them. So far I am enjoying that!
The fourth week: I had an out of town trip scheduled for the second half of the week. I made a list of things to do for the trip and was ready on time (early even!) and that went smoothly. This week I found I made much more use of the app! Go figure when I went out of town I got four times more inquiries in those 4 days than I’d gotten in all the rest of the time since January 1st! Since I didn’t have a computer with me, it was easy to add those inquiries to my lists with the Trello app and know they would not be forgotten when I got back home. Got home last night, sat down this morning to get to work, followed up on those inquiries and booked two of them by noon!
Final thoughts: I chose to agree to get emails about features so I could learn tips and tricks, but so far they’ve not been helpful (they often have a tease, but no clickable link to learn more) so you might want to skip that.
I very much like this service, though there are definitely some things that could be done to make it smoother. At this point, none of the paid integrations make sense for me, and I’ve not used Trello for collaborating on a project…yet.