If you haven’t even heard of Trello, you need to check it out now! Though it started in 2011, it really picked up speed in 2014. This application is meant to help you be productive, whether in your personal life or with your business. Of course, there are plenty of tools out there that are designed to help with your business, but don’t tune out yet! Trello can definitely still help your workflow, no matter what other collaboration tools you use. Before stepping into a breakdown of how to use it, let’s look a bit at what it is and why to use it.
What is Trello?
Trello allows you to make lists and then make cards in those lists. Sound confusing? Let’s look at a screenshot:
So see those parts listed as “Basics,” “Intermediate” or “Advanced”? Those are your lists. And then all of those white squares under the lists are cards. If you’re working on collaborative projects, you can even add other members to your boards and let them view both the lists and cards involved in that board. Each time someone else does something to cards that you’ve subscribed to, you’ll get a notification.
Why should I use it?
There are plenty task management tools available for free however these are some of reasons why you could use Trello. For example:
- If you’re a busy mom or a student. Having a difficult time keeping track of all those tasks on your to-do list? It’s one thing to read articles on increasing productivity, but actually keeping track of your lists is another challenge entirely. But you could use Trello to make lists such as “To do for school,” “To do at home,” “To do for work,” etc. Or for the student, make lists for “Papers,” “Homework,” “Tuition,” etc. Then put cards in and archive them as you’ve done the tasks. It’s always an accomplishment to see your list get shorter!
- If you’re planning something. If you’re planning a party or a wedding or a vacation or anything else, you might wish it was a little less stressful—I know I usually do! Figuring out all the details and then keeping everything straight can be a hassle. But you can use Trello to keep all the logistics straight (there’s even a template!) by using checklists, timelines, and more.
- If you have a business. If you have a business and you’re trying to keep track of all the small details and tasks that need to be done, why not keep it all in one place. You can allow other members to all have access to the same folder of lists and cards, meaning that as other employees complete tasks, they can move them over to different lists to be reviewed by other members or archive them. Or you could use it for development aspects. Whatever you do, you’re sure to help your business reach new heights using Trello.
- If you’re an artist. That’s right, even artists can be logical sometimes. Let’s say you have a project that you’re working on. Maybe you’ll finish working on it, have some of your friends check it over for you, send it to your boss and then send it to a gallery or a publisher or a store or wherever else. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make a card for that project and then move it along as progress was made?
Or… Honestly, the sky’s the limit. There are so many things you could do with Trello, and I’m sure you can come up with some reason to use it in your everyday life. So let’s look a bit further at how it’s used.
Before you start uploading content and information to Trello, you’ll want to make sure you protect the privacy of that data, especially if your business has many employees or freelancers all working together on Trello or if you want to use Trello to stay organized in your home office. Sensitive or personal information is a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals.
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will give you a more secure connection and prevent data leakage by connecting your computer to the internet over an encrypted connection to an offsite secure server that will handle your requests for you. The encryption on the connection is an amazing defense against cybercriminals because it creates a tunnel that no hackers or anyone looking in on the network can get into.
The next thing you’ll need to do to start using Trello is set up an account. Once you’ve done that, you can set up a project and invite other people to be members of your board as needed, but they’ll also need to set up an account. Got a project going? Double-click to add your first list. Again, this can be really anything; the software is so easily modifiable for whatever you need.
Got your list made? Your next step is to make cards, or add tasks that need to be done under that list. You’re looking for the short version, one that you can scan over but click on if you need to get the full details. There are different ways of doing this. You can click “Add a card…” at the bottom of the list in the Trello mainframe (or paste a list into the “Add a card…” area to create multiple cards). Or you can go to your board settings, click “Email-to-board Settings” and get the unique email address that will allow you to email new cards in to your board while you’re not actively looking at the Trello site. Make sure that you tag the appropriate members, or anyone who will be involved with that task.
Now, if you click on a card, you can Create a Checklist for any steps to that project; Set Due Dates and request reminders; Add Attachments either from your computer or your Google Drive, Dropbox or other accounts; or Move the Card to other lists and Archive the Card if you’re finished with it.
Let’s Look at an Example
Let’s say I’m using Trello with my business. After setting up a VPN and creating an account with Trello, I’ll start with the following steps:
- Create a project. This is a general thing and could be something like “Work Team” or “Personal Life”. Let’s say mine is “Work—This Summer’s Expo.”
- Add members (anyone who is involved in the project with you and who will have access to this board). For my work team, I’m going to invite all of my coworkers who are involved in the same project. If they don’t have Trello already, you can invite them using their email address.
- Create a list such as “To Do,” “At home,” “Brainstorming,” etc. For my “Work—This Summer’s Expo” project, I’ll create a list called “To Do,” and then create another list called “In Process,” “Check Back” and “Verified.”
- Create cards for each project—tasks that need to be done in each list. For this project, I need things such as “Select Venue,” “Confirm Attendees” and “Market Expo.” Some of the projects might only apply to certain members of the team, but that’s okay because you can tag everyone who’s involved.
- Now the people involved in each task can make comments (eg. “Talked to John on Sunday; he says yes”) or move the card as necessary (eg. cards that start out in “To Do” get moved over to “In Process” or “Check Back”). When a task is finished, it can be archived, meaning you no longer have to worry about it.
- If you have any further questions, you can always refer to the Trello Help Guide, which breaks things down for everyone from novice to advanced user.
If this still sounds confusing, take my word for it: it’s really easy! Actually, once you get in the software and start playing around, you’ll probably find a dozen other uses for Trello in your life. And we’re always looking for new ways to increase our productivity, right? So go ahead, play around and see what you can do. You’ll be seeing those good results soon!
About the Author: Jen Martinson is a technology enthusiast and blogger with Secure Thoughts. She enjoys writing about technology and her main area of interest is internet security.