Life has changed a bit for me recently. In truth that’s an understatement, life has changed a lot – and not in a good way, but it has brought home to me how much solace there can be in the routine of our daily lives. The other thing it has brought home to me is the undeniable fact that your brain can turn to Cottage Cheese at a moment’s notice and there is nothing you can do about it. For someone who is normally very well organised this has been a very scary experience – particularly as it is going to go on for some time. It brought home to me the value of a tool that I have been using for a while but had not fully appreciated how much a part of my daily life it has become.
I have to juggle lots of work areas, anyone who knows me will tell you I have tried more project managers, Get it Done tools and the like than you can imagine but I have always came back to the old fashioned pencil and paper list. The nearest I had come to it as an online tool was WorkFlowy but even that didn’t really work terribly well as it became cumbersome for managing umpteen projects and areas of life, especially where other people were involved.
A while ago I was pointed in the direction of Trello, and at first I was sceptical about it. I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about free tools. I’d rather pay something as then there is a halfway decent chance that it will still be there – and why shouldn’t people be rewarded for coming up with something good. So, I was hesitant about committing myself fully to the system but it’s simple functionality got under my skin and I found myself using it more and more, particularly given the fairly seamless integration of the mobile app which meant I could use it on the beloved iPad as well, albeit with an iPhone based app.
At its simplest Trello is a series of lists which hold virtual cards. You can group the lists into ‘Boards’ for various projects, whatever takes your fancy. You can have as many Boards as you want, and as many lists on a Board as you want. I tend to limit myself to no more than 8 because they happen to fit on my screen quite well, but that is the OCD part of me that likes to keep an eye on everything at once! Cards, Lists and Boards can be shared with other users, simply invite them to join and drop their icon on the card – easy as that. Cards can hold comments, conversations, checklists, documents, images and so on and they can be dragged from list to list, sent from Board to Board and with a browser plugin, they can even be cloned.
It is simplicity itself, just sitting in your browser ready to capture ideas, record actions, share thoughts, monitor progress – need I say more. I can usually fight off Cottage Cheese brain long enough to capture thoughts, To Do’s and the like on Trello and it has been my saviour over the last few weeks. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. I would like to be able to edit comments particularly for some of the sillinesses that have crept in to my brain recently and you can’t do that, unless I am missing something, which is perfectly possible at the moment. The other gripe – please guys, charge something – it’s a wonderful tool and I don’t want to lose it!