Use a Personal Trello Board 2016-12-09T17:39:53+00:00

How to Task Manage Like a Champ

Use a routine and a Personal Trello Board to never fall behind again

We have all had that moment where your heart hits your pelvis right as someone asks you about something you forgot. You swear to yourself and/or them that you won’t forget again, yet you invariably fail. At minimum, forgetting about tasks is frustrating and a nuisance. At worst, it can cost you money, opportunities, and experiences.

All types of things come your way every hour of every day. It might be an assignment you get from your teacher, a chore from a parent, or it might be an idea that popped into your head you want to remember. If you actually want to remember these things, you need to get them out of your head ASAP!

If you watched the video above you have 90% of what you need to make a very good task management system for yourself. If you are good with Trello and you watched the video above you can probably make an amazing board right now (but keep reading anyway).

The whole system that this page outlines it predicated on a few ideas:

  • You can’t keep track of everything, modern life is too complicated (read The Checklist Manifesto if you need confirmation of this fact).
  • Good technology and automation can make up for the shortcomings of your brain.
  • You need to maintain and trust a system to maximize your productivity and minimize your stress.

Use These Boxes to Help You Navigate This Page

Routines

Lists

Labels

Calendar

Daily Routine

  • At the beginning of your day, you should check your Trello board for the tasks you need to do during the coming day.
  • As you go about your day, the mindset of immediately turning tasks/ideas into Trello cards is fundamental to your success. This is a 5-second task that you should do in real time as things come your way.
  • Capturing ideas is one thing, but if you don’t actually do anything then this whole thing is as pointless as lifeguards at the Olympics.
Lifeguard at Olympics

Nati Harnik/AP

  • During the day, as you start, make progress, or finish tasks you should be moving/updating the cards too. This will help you keep track of things but also make sure that the timestamps in Trello are as accurate as possible.
  • If not before, you should make sure that your inbox is processed at the end of the day so you have a clean slate to start the next day.
    • Learn more about processing your Inbox further down this page.

Weekly Routine

  • Sometimes you can get caught up in “putting out fires” and dealing with getting through the day so your board can get messy. This can also keep you from thinking strategically.
  • It is a good idea to schedule 30-60 minutes once a week (I like Saturday mornings before the rest of my house wakes up) to get your bearings, clean up and update your Trello board, review your last week and get ready for your next week.
  • Below you can watch a College Info Geek video about weekly reviews or you can listen to a podcast episode walking you through “A Weekly Review” from the people behind Getting Things Done (learn about GTD at the bottom of this page).
    • They will use terms specific to GTD, don’t let that confuse you. The overall process and some of the tips they share are really helpful.

Use These Boxes to Help You Navigate This Page

Routines

Lists

Labels

Calendar

Anatomy of Your Personal Trello Board

Lists

Inbox

  • This is the only place you create Cards
  • Have the Email to Board feature send cards to the bottom of this list.
    • Save your Trello Board’s email address as a contact so you can forward tasks to your board easily.
  • Don’t create cards for a task that will take less than two minutes to complete, do that task right now instead (unless you can’t do the task at this moment for whatever reason)
    • Generally, the benefit of putting something on your board only makes an impact if the task will take longer than two minutes.
  • When you have time throughout the day to process cards you should do it from the top of your list to the bottom.
  • When you process cards you should make sure each card gets all the info it needs (labels, due dates, relevant attachments/notes, etc) and then be moved to the appropriate list.

Bonus: Here is a cool infographic for processing your Inbox

Daily

  • These are tasks that you don’t already do every day, habits you are trying to build or break and so on.
  • Keep this list short, less than 5 cards.
  • This list is in this position so you have to look past it every time you look over your Trello board.

Sprint

  • These are the fires you need to put out. These tasks are emergencies and need your immediate attention/action.
  • Don’t even think of scrolling past these cards without at least evaluating them if not completing them.

Doing

  • This list is the area where you keep tasks you are working on.
  • By keeping these items separate, you can easily focus on finishing them before getting distracted by other items in your To Do list.
  • Your goal (even though life will make this impossible at some point) is to have an empty Doing list before you start working on a new card from your To Do list.

Waiting

  • While you might be a productivity master, no matter what you will eventually have a task that you hand off to someone who isn’t. The waiting list is for these tasks.
  • You keep tasks here to get them out of the way (i.e. not in your Doing list) but also separate so you can follow up on them easily.
  • Use the commenting feature to make time stamped notes every time to you check in with the person you are waiting for.

To Do

  • This list will likely be the longest on your board. The only contender should be your Done list.
  • If you labeled and assigned due date to everything when you processed your inbox you should not worry about things getting lost.
    • You should still make it part of your weekly review to go through this whole list and move/update any cards that might need your attention.

Done

  • Some people say that you should keep a Done list so that can pull motivation from the giant pile of stuff you have already done. If that works for you then by all means keep this list here for that.
  • I find it helpful to keep the Done list so I can have a quick and easy to access reference of the things I have done for record keeping/evidence sake.
  • Either way you should have a Done list but keep it all the way over here because you shouldn’t need to access it regularly.
  • Having it here also makes it show up at the bottom of the Move Menu and that makes sense to me.

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Routines

Lists

Labels

Calendar

Labels

  • Areas of your life
    • I keep these categories as broad as possible.
  • Red Labels
    • High Energy
      • These are tasks that need coffee! I try to get these tasks done when I am working at my best which is usually first thing in the morning.
    • High Impact
      • These are tasks that have a high reward for my time or return on investment. If I can only do one thing, I look here first.
    • Urgent
      • Just what it sounds like, I need to get these things done quickly. Honestly, I use due dates and the Sprint list more, but I still mark this.
  • Green Labels
    • Low Energy
      • These are cheap wins. Tasks that I can do if I don’t feel like doing anything. I look here when I am unmotivated and want to try to jump start a work session.
    • Low Impact
      • These tasks often get deferred to a later time. They are things I want to do, but more along the lines of “It would be nice if…”
    • Non-Urgent
      • AKA the back burner. These are usually good ideas that popped into my head that I want to remember for later.

Use These Boxes to Help You Navigate This Page

Routines

Lists

Labels

Calendar

Calendar Power Up

  • Learn about the Calendar Power Up here
  • This is a really helpful feature for visualizing your tasks via due date.
  • Moving a card around in the Calendar view dynamically changes the due date of the card.
  • You can see the labels in this view so I try to make sure there is one “Triple Red” (High Energy, High Impact, Urgent) task everyday.
    • Doing one of these tasks a day crushes the average person who might do one of these a week.

Getting Things Done

The way I set up my personal Trello board and deal with task management in general, takes heavily from a productivity philosophy something called Getting Things Done. If you want to be better at this type of stuff you should give the book a read, it is the definitive book in this category.