How do you organize your projects with Trello?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by ninjata12, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. ninjata12

    ninjata12 Registered

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    Hi,
    it's pleasure for me to become part of this community. I recently started using GTD (and Trello).

    What I see as kind of a drawback is the inability to track if I have Next Actions assigned to my projects. Currently I have 25 projects and more than 150 Next Actions. And when I wake up in the morning and decide that I would like to work on the "Get a new logo" project, I have to look in the long list of 150 Next Actions, which is annoying. Sometimes I don't even know if I have an action assigned to some of the projects and it becomes really confusing. I thought about creating Checklist within the Project cards, but this way I will have to look at different places to find Next Actions and I might miss something. Colour coding would be useful if I had 3 projects, but they are 25 and it will become a mess...

    So, how do you organize your Projects and Next Actions with Trello so that it is easy to use and you don't have to rewrite cards, look in long lists or open a lot of Boards just to start working on something? Any tips would be really appriciated. Thank you...
     
  2. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Do you have to use Trello? It is a very pretty app, good especially for simple collaboration etc, but it would not be my tool of preference for managing my task lists (projects, next actions etc). I suggest you take a look at apps such as Doit, Nirvana, GTDNext, Zendone, Omnifocus, Things, Toodledo and others that are specifically designed for managing tasks.

    But if I did have to use Trello, I too would avoid using the "checklists" for actions. As you say, it is too difficult to see the actions in there.

    As a first shot, I think I would probably go for using:
    • one single "board" for all of it (but you might also want to consider using separate boards for work and private etc if you are sure you never need to see them together)
    • one "list" (column) per project. And I would add a few such lists for non-project actions (one list per area of responsibility). I would keep the columns arranged such that projects in the same area are adjacent and even name them with an area prefix.
    • one "card" per action.
    • color coding ("label") for contexts and for Waiting/Someday. You can filter by color.

    All in all, this would give you a single board with around 30 list columns and about 5 cards in each. You can filter by label (context) (one a time only). You then would have no features left for implementing a "today" list or priority flags etc, should you want that. And ticklers won't stay out of your face, but you can make them go red on the right day.

    I wouild the probably want to reduce the number of columns in order to have a better overview and make better use of the screen height. To reduce the number of columns I might try and experiment with using the same "list" (column) for more than one project, and perhaps use a special label color for those "cards" that represent an entire project. I am not sure how exactly I would do that, though - maybe one list per area (I have about a dozen areas), and then in each list one "card" per project followed by one card per next action - and then perhaps possible future actions stashed away as checklists within the project cards?

    You'd be better off with a proper task app, I believe.
     
  3. ninjata12

    ninjata12 Registered

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    Well, I use Trello with my team, but I can always try something else for organizing the things that I have to to. I am using Windows and Andoid. So based on these critiria, can you reccomend something particular from your suggestions:

    1. Must have a good Android app + an "Quick add new card" widget for times when I am in a meeting or on the go...
    2. Must have Windows/Cloud/Browser version
    3. Can filter Next Action by projects (altough I read that a lot of people say it's better to learn to work in a "context" mode - any thoughts on this? )
    4. Easy to use and easy to quickly scan my Life goals >>> Projects >>> Next Actions

    Thanks a lot for the help, it means a lot...
     
  4. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Choosing an app is a very personal thing. I use Doit now, and used Nirvana before that. I like them both (even though they both have their little quirks). And I have tried many others.

    I agree that it is essential to be able to view tasks both by project and by context etc. Most of the apps can do that. Few of them have much support above the project or area level, but I do not suffer from that.

    I'd say, try Doit. I only use their iOS and browser versions, but they also have Windows and Android and Mac. They have a widget of some kind, too, but I do not use it (I use Siri instead, or the quick-add feature inside the iOS app).

    But you should probably shop around. Most of them have free versions or free trials that you can play around with. And personal tastes can vary a lot.
     
  5. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    If I were to use Trello for GTD, I would use it as Folke describes. But I think that Trello would be problematic for all but the simplest GTD system. I try to keep my system as simple as possible, but Trello still wouldn't do the job for me.
     
  6. ninjata12

    ninjata12 Registered

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    Thank you for the input, I will try Doit as you suggested.

    I saw that it has a Today and Tomorrow lists, apart from the Calendar. Does that mean that it is good to plan the current and the next days in advance? Because it is something that I kind of feel good if I do, but I think it is against the rules of GTD.

    I somehow feel more ''in control'' of the day if I have planned it at least a bit. For example Saturday morning I decide that I will go to Ikea to buy stuff and on the way back I will stop to buy a book and after I get home I will renew my antivirus software and send an email to a friend. Is it OK to put all this in a "today" list and try to act on it, or should I just move step by step without any planning? Thank you again...
     
  7. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    Personally I have disabled the Tomorrow list. I do not quite like Doit's fixation about dates, but it is something you can largely work around or ignore - or use, if you like.

    I think it is works beautifully to use the Today list to gather all the things I aim to consider again later today. Most apps have such a list in some form or other. It is usually called Today or Focus or Starred. I have always found it to be extremely useful.

    Tip: I also use Doit's Priority indicator as a more permanent indicator of how often I need to review my actions in a formal review - Low means that weekly is enough, Medium means daily, High means every time I even look at the list. This means I save time in every morning's review by ignoring the Low ones. It also means that whenever I look at my Next actions (filtered or total list; grouped by context or project or priority or whatever) to find additional things during the day the colors guide my eyes and make sure I at least see the High and Medium tasks anywhere in the list, but I do see the Low ones, too (not hidden), which is very useful if, say, I plan to do some errands in a particular part of town and want to do "everything" there.
     
  8. ninjata12

    ninjata12 Registered

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    I tried Doit.im today and I am pleased with what I see so far. 2 things bother me.

    1. You say that you have disabled the Tomorrow list. I did that too ( as well as the Scheduled, since I refer to use the Google Calendar) - But they are still on the Android app. Is there a way to hide them there as well?
    2. No reference folder. Where do you keep your short reference info, for example some passwords?
     
  9. Folke

    Folke Registered

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    The Scheduled list is useful for GTD Tickler items, e.g. recurring actions or any other actions that are irrelevant until some future date has arrived, but which thereafter can be done on any day - so they are not actually scheduled to be done on the "scheduled" date, just scheduled to become activated on that day (I often place these in Next once I have seen them initially on the Today list). I have dozens and dozens of repeating items, e.g. to review/terminate/extend contracts etc, or create/expect monthly reports etc

    Just like you, I use a calendar for calendar items such as appointments. Tip: I auto-forward GCal reminders 15 hours in advance to Doit. This allows me to have all today's actions on a single list - in Doit; no need to flick between list and calendar all day long.

    As for reference info, I keep that in various other places. It is a very common request in most app forums to add more "integration" features (with Evernote, Dropbox etc), but I have no great need for that myself. Doit does have some kind of integration with Evernote, but I have never tried it. I use Evernote and other tools (GDrive, Dropbox) etc in an "unconnected" way, but I do occasionally paste a link into the task comments.

    As for Android, I would not know. The Tomorrow list is hidden on my iPhone, just as I want it. I don't think I ever had to disable it separately on the iPhone. Maybe it is just a bug in Android?
     
  10. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    I use Trello for GTD. Don’t give up yet! I gave up on every other todo list app people mention in these forums to use Trello, and it’s IMHO the best for people with lots of projects to track. I’ve tried darn near all of them, and none give me the clear overview that Trello offers. Plus, you can organize everything in your life with one app. Todo apps are incredibly rigid in this regard, while Trello is incredibly flexible.

    I’ve set up a sample board showcasing (roughly) how I use Trello for GTD (EDIT: click the previous sentence to see the board. Apparently links aren’'t visually represented in these forums anymore). Here’s a breakdown:
    • Lists for each project, as well as a list for general one-off tasks. I also put a list at the front with board information for my coworkers so they understand what they’re looking at (none use GTD, no matter how many times I’ve stuck the book under their noses). I also have separate lists for tasks I cannot immediately act upon, so Waiting, etc. get a list versus a label (explained next).
    • Labels for contexts. I have contexts for location, as well as other task traits (priority, quick, etc.) that I use when deciding what to do. I put the numbers on the front of the cards to help me remember the keyboard shortcut for assigning them. When I go through my Incoming list, I can rapidly categorize my cards and move them to the proper list.
    • Templates for tasks I do repeatedly. If I do them on a schedule, I oftentimes have a Project for that task and then copy and schedule the cards a year in advance (I do this with monthly reviews, for example. Weekly Reviews I remember to do, but sometimes the 1st of the month rolls around and I forget, so this helps me).
    • I assign myself to cards as a sort of today/priority list. These are items I want to focus on for the short term. I can quickly see only these by pressing Q, or clicking my name in the top right and clicking Cards. I share other boards with coworkers for group projects or committees, so this is where I go to hone in on the work I need to get done across a variety of projects, group or just mine.
    • I assign dates to cards when they are Due or Scheduled. Due dates get the Deadline label and Scheduled tasks the Scheduled label. That way I can easily tell them apart in Trello’s board calendar. Because my coworkers often visit my board, I also sometimes schedule Priority tasks so they can see I have them planned for certain days, if it’s something they’re waiting on. They understand that without the Deadline label, there’s no guarantee it will get done that day, and if it doesn’t, I move it to another day. Not super GTD, but with coworkers it’s necessary to be flexible.
    I prefer Trello over other options because I’m easily able to see my entire job - tasks, projects, etc. - in a single glance. Task apps always irked me because I had to manually click through them, or see them all in one running, HUGE list. And if I want to focus, say on tasks I can do at my desk, I just filter for that label. If I want to just see my today/hotlist, I hit Q to see only cards assigned to me. Since I sort my Single Tasks list by (rough) priority, I can see whether I should work on the top tasks there, or this project, or that project. The overview is unparalleled.

    Let me know if I can clear this up for you or answer any questions. But I definitely don’t agree with the advice to give up on Trello just yet.
     
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  11. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    OFF-TOPIC: If an Administrator is reading this thread, there’s a bug in the forums where you can’t add a word with an apostrophe during an edit and have the apostrophe show up. Editing to add the apostrophe adds two apostrophes. Editing and removing one apostrophe removes both. Ad nauseam.
     
  12. davidcoforum

    davidcoforum Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Chirmer, thanks for pointing this out. There's definitely something buggy. I have just tried a dozen edits, and in some adding the apostrophe works, but mostly it doesn't. For example, in an edit of this post a minute ago, I tried to change cant to can't in the quoted part. It didn't work at first, but it worked for the next edit. I edited other text, and cant reappeared. Now can't is back.
     
  13. tyGTDer

    tyGTDer Registered

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    Also huge fan of using trello for task tracking. I've been using it for a couple of years and found the visual Kanban style with filters ideal. I've used many apps and prior to trello, I used MLO (mylifeorganized) for several years before discovering trello. MLO was great on the PC, not so good on Android until about a month ago when they released the android 2.0 version. However, all my data is now in trello and I've been happy with all the functionality and filtering.

    Using stylist (a chrome extension), you can also customize the look and there are quite a few trello specific chrome extensions including one of my favorites called "card color titles for trello" which puts the name of the label on the card.

    The Trello app on android is somewhat limited by not having filtering, but it is still functional for entering, moving and viewing what I have going on with each board. For a free solution, it is pretty powerful. I continue to use onenote for my project data and you can imbed onenote links in trello that work great.

    I also use MS outlook for email and calendar along with a free gsync app to synchronize outlook to my google calendar so I have a fully syncronized bi-directional calendar on my android phone.

    If trello went away, I guess my 2nd choice would be back using MLO which is actually very good, just not as visual as the trello kanban boards.

    I guess the only downside to trello I've found is that a certain task list can become long and scrolls out of view. Some workarounds to keep things in view is to further classify the longer lists in separate lists or to migrate the list to its own board. However, unless I visit that board frequently, it tends to become "out of sight, out of mind". Not a fault of trello, but my own discipline and I probably need to visit all boards at least once a week.

    Anyway, I whole-heartedly recommend trello with a few chrome extension tweaks!
     
  14. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Chirmer - I find it hard to visualise how you are using Trello.

    - How many live projects to you have at once? (And presumably you don't have a separate List for very simple projects that only have say for or five individual tasks/actions within them, do you?)

    - If you have an entire Trello 'List' for each project, do you not end up scrolling sideways a lot?

    - How do you manage your 'focus-on-this-today' functionality?

    - And how do you move entire projects between different 'actionable statuses' (Do ASAP, Someday, Maybe, Later, Soon, Waiting etc)

    Thanks

    J

    PS Do you have any screenshots? Can you point me to any GTD on Trello videos?
     
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  15. Jan van Veldhuizen

    Jan van Veldhuizen Registered

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    Hi Chirmer,

    I was looking at your Sample GTD board setup. It looks quite simple and straightforward. But I was wondering how many projects you have on this board? Do you really have a list for each individual project? When I look at my todo list I can easily define more than twenty projects. A lot of lists will only be visible by scrolling to the right. Even when filtering a lot of filtered cards will only be visible by scrolling through the lists.

    Or do you have separate boards for bigger projects?

    This basically the same question as Ship69 asked a while ago.

    Thanks
    Jan
     
  16. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising Kelly Forrister

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    @Jan van Veldhuizen —Have you seen the new GTD & Trello Setup Guide. It gives a ton of examples. This post is pretty old, so it doesn’t mention it. But it’s out now and available in the DAC store or on GTD Connect if you’re a paid member.
     
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  17. Jan van Veldhuizen

    Jan van Veldhuizen Registered

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    Thanks a lot, Kelly!
    I bought the guide and used it to set up my boards. Let's see how it works.
     
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  18. thaliadaniels

    thaliadaniels Registered

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    I'm a Web Designer in an online company that offers this dog DNA test kit (which is used to identify what kind of breed a dog has). I love trello. It keeps all of my staffs in my online shop connected. I don't need to keep on reminding them on their upcoming tasks since they can automatically share it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018 at 8:16 AM
  19. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    Wow, I missed this like... forever ago. Apologies! I actually don't use the "list-per-project" layout anymore because I have too many projects. Here's a newer sample board showing how I have used Trello for the past year or so: https://trello.com/b/zOAkurkQ/demo-gtd

    Now I just make a list with a parent card for every project, and all project documentation, files, etc. go in there. There is also a label for each project so I can quickly filter by each project on the board.

    I don't do any sort of "focus on this today" anymore. I know David Allen said it like, 5 million years ago, but I finally acknowledged that my priorities shift too often and I spent more time scheduling and then rescheduling. Now it's just Due Dates, and I put priority items higher on my lists so I see them every time I open the board.

    I now use the Snooze Card power-up to send projects I can't currently work on to a future date for re-evaluation. Essentially it hides cards until a certain date, then re-adds them to your board.

    https://trello.com/inspiration is a great resource for ideas, as well as https://community.atlassian.com. And the Trello Slack community is very active! https://trellocommunity.slack.com

    Hi Jan! I stopped using that layout about a year ago because I ended up with a bunch of projects on my plate and it fell apart. You can see on the board I linked in my reply to Ship69 above that I now use a master card for each project, and then project tasks get a card each as well as the project's label. I have a 27" monitor, so I made sure I only use enough lists that they almost all fit on the screen without scrolling. Works well!
     
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