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How I Manage my Life with Trello

aspittel profile image Ali Spittel Originally published at welearncode.com on ・4 min read

How I use Trello to Manage my Life

Like many things, productivity systems are deeply personal and subjective. But, I've learned so much from other people's posts on their systems (like Andreas Klinger's email system) that I thought I would post my daily Trello setup in the hopes it may help someone else feel more in control of their routine.

My whole system is inspired by Atomic Habits and Tiny Habits -- having instant gratification whenever I complete a task and making habits and routines mindless by autopopulating them on my todo list is so helpful. I try to put as much into routines as possible so that I can habitually get things done each day, both for myself and for my job.

I have a lot to manage, between managing a team, speaking events, creating content, and my life outside of work. I use Trello as my personal dashboard to manage all of it.

I also have a more general post if you want to read more about my thoughts on productivity.

The Columns

I have columns setup within Trello to store different categories of information. The first column is "Today" which lists all the things I need to work on that day. I then have "Tomorrow" which works like "Today" except for the next day. Then there's "This Week" which stores all the things I need to do that week. These are relatively straightforward, and I'll dive into the types of cards that I use later in this article. In the morning, one of my tasks is to organize the cards for the day, so I move cards around as needed.

Then, I have "Waiting." This stores tasks I'm waiting on others to complete or that I'm blocked on for some reason. Often I'm waiting for a clarifying email before working on the task, but I even put laundry when it's in process on there!

Then, I have the "Affirmations" column. This stores motivational quotes and inspiration. I normally create these in Canva from quotes I run across while reading or elsewhere! I like seeing these positive messages whenever I look at my todos.

Then, I have the "Done!" column. This stores completed tasks, and I archive all cards on it each week. I also have some automations set up to give me a checkmark sticker and remove due dates on cards when they're moved to "Done!"

Then, I have the "Inbox" column. This stores all untriaged notes and future todos. So, todo list items that won't be done this week, or loose ideas that I haven't cleaned up yet.

Then comes "Ideas." These are normally things that I'm working on, feedback people have given me recently that I'm working on, high level notes for myself, etc.

After that, I have a "Take Notes" column. This contains other peoples' content that I want to read or watch but haven't had time to yet. I normally make time to watch a conference talk length video at lunch each day, and I pull those from here and take notes while watching!

Finally, I have a "Content ideas" column which contains topics for blog posts and YouTube videos which I haven't gotten to yet. I write these ideas down as I have them so that I don't get writers block when I'm trying to think of a new content idea.

Cards

I have cards for most of the things I need to do everyday, from meetings to speaking events, to tasks. For larger tasks, I have checklists to break up subtasks.

For meetings, I beforehand write any notes or discussion points I have. Then during the meeting, I write down on the same card any action items or notes that I have. I then organize those after the fact.

Repeating Cards

I have routine cards that autopopulate on my "Today" column every day. Right now these include:

  • Morning Routine
  • Start of Workday
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime

There are certain things I need to do everyday at these times. I use "Repeats" to generate these cards. They all have checklists for the things I need to do at these times! If you're interested in the things in these lists, let me know and I can write another blog post on that.

I also have other recurring todos that autopopulate.

I use cards for both work and personal tasks -- I like keeping everything in one place.

Templates

I also have card templates for types of content. There are certain actions I need to do every time I film a YouTube video, for example. So, I have a checklist that I copy for each video -- Trello has a really nice interface for this workflow where you can have template cards.

YouTube video card template

Labels

I have labels for different categories of tasks, like types of content, and how much energy a task will take. This helps me to visually organize tasks and take care of tasks when I have the energy for them. I also have a "me" label for prioritizing self-care tasks like meditation and working out.

Conclusion

Again, productivity systems are deeply personal and what works for me may not work for you; however, this helps me to keep me on track, productive, and not overwhelmed. I can have all of the things I need to do in one place as my personal dashboard.

Discussion (14)

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nicozerpa profile image
Nico Zerpa (he/him)

I've set up a Trello dashboard last week, but I've completely forgotten about it until I saw this article 🤣

Thank you for explaining your process, Ali! There are some great ideas that I'll sure try to implement.

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arung86 profile image
Arun Kumar G

I also was using to trello to keep track of my personal things, I am using google keep for the same purpose.
If you have too many things Trello will be good and for simple things I find Google keep is best

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suther profile image
Samuel Suther

Nice to see, how other ones plan their stuff.
Maybe one suggestion, I learned to love: Order your Tasks for the next day at the and of your workday.

This has two advantages:

  1. You can start immediately with your work on the next day
  2. You can prepare your subconscious for the "next-day" tasks

In my case, I do use more than one board, but connect cards, or move them from one to other boards (depends on the need where to have it).

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egilhuber profile image
erica (she/her)

This is such a cool method! My view of Trello as a tool was pretty limited to projects. I've been wanting to utilize it more/better, and this is great inspiration for that!

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Trello is awesome it's the reason why I got so addicted to using Kanban Boards.

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pzelnip profile image
Adam Parkin

That "affirmations" column is brilliant, I'm totes going to steal that idea.

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him)

This was quite a timely article - I'm spending the month of May trying to get my life digitally together with Todoist and I like the template task idea 🥰

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mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

Hi A,
Andreas Klinger's email system is very cool.
Thanks for the link.

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derplak profile image
DerPlak ॐ

I was looking forward so badly to find something like this, don´t ever used Trello but need to try your method, thanks for sharing it!

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brendaabrownn profile image
Brenda Brown

I use Restyaboard, another free project management software to plan my trips for leisure, for work, and with or without collaborators. A good free alternative to Trello.

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rustery profile image
Rustam Khasanshin

Do you guys really need tasks like lunch or dinner in your system?

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rustery profile image
Rustam Khasanshin

Easy, I've just asked.
I read many articles about self-management like this one before, and many people put tasks like dinner, lunch, etc... And it's not judgment, I can only imagine for myself what it is for, because no one can't explain for what is it.
If we talking about habits - we even created new things like "habit-management", it is okay. For example "habit to do push-ups every morning" or repeated tasks like "check my servers every day at 9 pm". But things like lunch or dinner... I can't understand. I apologize, of course, if it was personal.

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micku profile image
Michele Gargiulo

I guess these contain things to do at lunch or dinner time... But I also see someone can be distracted from other tasks, but want to keep a habit.

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aspittel profile image
Ali Spittel Author

Do you guys really need to judge what other people need to do for themselves?

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