How I Manage my Life with Trello
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.
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.
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.
I have routine cards that autopopulate on my "Today" column every day. Right now these include:
- Morning Routine
- Start of Workday
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.
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.
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.
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.