One of the things about me is that I find it difficult to have just one project on the go, and I have far more than one creative hobby. As such, it can be quite easy for things to get lost along the way to completion, to forget my progress on something, or just forget about a project entirely. I’ve tried several systems for keeping track of things in the past but none have really captured what I wanted or needed.
So, in my day job, last year I was assigned to a team that works using a management system called “scrum.” Now, ignoring my personal feelings on that, there was one particular aspect of it that I really liked. The Scrum Board. A board with all current works to be completed within a certain time period, laid out in columns including “to do,” “in progress,” etc. And I thought there was a far more fun application of this than WORK.
I did a quick search and found Trello, a website that allows you to make your own boards for your own projects. I did, and I love it. What are some of the features that make Trello work for me?
Columns are the first useful thing. This is to separate out what state everything is in. The above screenshot is from my personal board, which holds ALL my projects in it. I have “In Waiting,” for everything that I want to do, but isn’t currently on my radar. “To Do” is for things I want to start working on next. “Doing” speaks for itself and of course “Done” is the WOO HOO column. In particular, I like having the distinction between the “In Waiting” and “To Do” columns because it stops me feeling overwhelmed by too many projects, while giving me the reassurance that nothing is being forgotten about.
Projects or tasks are made into “cards” that can be moved about the board. These cards can be given as much or as little detail as you want. The ones on my personal board vary wildly between paragraphs and paragraphs of detail to just the title. You can add due dates, attachments, and custom fields of your own. I have a custom field for estimating the “size” of a task, so I have an idea of what I’m getting myself into while looking through my list to pick what to work on next.
One of my favourite bits of Trello is that it lets you add brightly coloured labels, which speaks to the part of me that has many binders covered in brightly coloured sticky markers. This is very useful for me in particular as it allows me to keep all of my projects on one board while still being able to pick out what sort of thing I’m looking for at that point in time. These can all be customised, so the board tells you what you need it to tell you.
And finally, another personal favourite. Be it a badly scrawled post-it, the back of my hand, a phone app, or that expensive notebook I’ve finally worked up the courage to use, I love making lists. Lists are awesome. Not only does Trello let you add checklists, it lets you add multiple to one card. For example, one my novel progress I like to have checklists with the big steps such as “rough draft,” “first draft,” etc but I also like smaller ones so that I can track progress on the actual part I’m working on. A sense of progression helps me keep working, otherwise it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by a project that doesn’t feel like it’s moving.
So this is Trello and why I love it. It’s also very easy to keep up to date, which means… that’s right! The Project Status page is getting revamp! And by revamp, I mean a link to a public, trimmed down Trello board that will display all my project progress in an easier to handle fashion. Here’s a nice direct link to the CM Schofield Progress Board.
Do you have your own methods for organising your projects? What do you find works for you?