Organize Your To Do List with Trello

Hello! I’m Kara, Communications Assistant at Restoring Order (read my bio here), and I want to share a wonderful tool that I’ve recently discovered that has helped me live a more ordered life – Trello.

Trello is a project management website that is free (there is a version you can pay for, but I haven’t tried that out yet.) [By the way – Trello is not paying me to say these things. I’m just loving it so much I wanted to share!]

First of all, before you start using any tool, it’s important to look at why you want to get organized. In Vicki’s book Restoring Order to Your Home, she writes

“I am passionate about organizing, but not because it makes people’s homes and offices look nice, and not because of the neat containers and products. I am passionate about helping people bring their lives into orderly focus precisely because I want them to discover and embrace the things that really matter in this world. I want you to be free to live out your true priorities.”

This is so important! Getting organized for the sake of having a perfect-looking home is self-defeating. The moment your home is “organized”, the process of messing up that organization begins immediately! (At least at my home with 2 little boys!) Instead of having a perfect-looking home be your reason for getting organized, getting your life in order so that you can fulfill on what’s important to you is much more attainable, rewarding, and fun!

Getting your life in order gives you peace of mind. This comes from knowing that you have a trustworthy system established to capture everything you need to remember and accomplish. The stress of disorganization is partly in the not-knowing! Not knowing if you are forgetting something, not knowing where everything is, etc.

Vicki also says

“The most important result of ordering your home is the relief you will feel when you are no longer letting yourself down on a daily basis.”

THIS is the reason I started using Trello.  THIS is the reason that I love it so much that I want to share it! I was tired of letting myself down. Of going to bed with a sigh and a promise to do more the next day. Of knowing I had a lot to do, but not knowing exactly what.  My husband and I were tired of the repetitive conversations where we remember that we need to do something, already knowing we’ll probably forget before we get it done. We wanted to start actually fulfilling on the things that are important to us!

Enter Trello…

10 things I LOVE about Trello:

  1. An established place to capture ideas – My husband and I have agreed to put everything that needs to get done here. It feels great to know we have one spot that holds ALL the “to-dos”. Trello is a great electronic organization tool!
  2. It allows you to create boards and then add tasks to the boards (it calls these “cards”) – you can be as general or specific as you need
  3. It is very flexible – you can organize your boards and cards in the way that makes sense to you! We organize our boards chronologically so we have an ongoing “to-do” list, but can prioritize tasks by moving them to the “Today” or “This Week” board.
  4. They also have a Trello app! This is so helpful because I have a reliable place to capture ideas and “to-dos” when I’m out and about. (No more scribbling in the back of a receipt or saying to yourself “I need to remember that when I get home” or “I need to remember to talk to so and so about this”)
  5. You can share boards with other people AND you can assign people to a certain task. If you are partnering with someone else to get a task done, everyone is clear about who is responsible for which part of the task.
  6. You can set alarms – it’s like an external memory – gives your mind a break!
  7. You can have multiple boards. I have a board for my family, for work, and for a large project with another company
  8. Easy to make checklists (I LOVE checklists)
  9. Allows you to upload files to a card, so you have all the information you need to complete a task in one place – increases the likelihood of the task getting done!
  10. Easy to move things around as their priority changes – it’s all drag and drop

Trello is great for getting things on your to-do list DONE! But, there are more benefits to implementing this type of system than just accomplishing short-term tasks. Having a system where you capture ALL your ideas and goals is great for living BEYOND your daily to-do list! (Doesn’t that sound refreshing?!)

What usually happens is that we live with our heads down, grinding through life, putting out fires. Getting organized is great for making sure you’re getting those daily tasks done and not missing bills or other important deadlines. But, beyond the daily grind, living an ordered life allows you to look farther down the road of life. beyond the daily grind, living an ordered life allows you to look farther down the road of life.

It’s like when you are a new driver and your eyes focus on the pavement directly in front of your car. Until you trust yourself to stay in between the lines and to be able to react appropriately to situations that arise, you are very short-sighted. Once you are experienced and have learned to trust yourself, you can look farther ahead and better anticipate what is coming. You are freer to plan than to just react.

morning-streetTrello is a place where long-term dreams can be captured. Utilizing a system like Trello allows you to raise your eyes from the daily chores and look down the road of life. It allows you to remember your big dreams, capture them, and then create a plan to actually start accomplishing them! If you have a thought that you should travel to Australia someday or make a photo album or retire early – put it in existence somewhere! As long as it remains just a thought or a dream, you are no closer to making it a reality. Until you commit to at least capturing that idea somewhere, the likelihood of you having what you truly want is slim.

When you create a to-do list that holds both short- and long-term items, you will notice some items that sit on your to-do list and never get done! This is a clue! It means you either need to break the item into smaller steps so it feels easier and more approachable, or maybe it’s time to reevaluate if that item is truly a priority and worth your time. Only items that fit within your priorities should take up valuable space on your to-do list. After all, living an ordered life is really about living out your priorities.

I hope you have been inspired to find a system for capturing ideas and for getting your to-dos in order! If you choose to use Trello, here are some helpful tips that I’ve found from using the site:

  1. Make the titles of your cards be actionable items. Instead of “Family Dinners”, label it “Find Recipes for Family Dinners” – already feels more do-able!
  2. Organize your boards the way YOUR mind works. For me, I like to use a chronological system. Don’t be afraid to change it up if it’s not working for you!
  3. Write your notes in a way that a person with only a vague idea of the project could get it done. This saves you from having to think “what was I going to do with this?” Less time, less mental energy, and makes it more likely to get done!

Here is a mocked up board to give you an idea of what Trello, the boards, and the cards look like. The cards with numbers on them are cards with checklists inside (I removed the titles, but you get the idea). You can click on any of these cards (the white rectangles) to add as much detail as you like. Then, from this view (the board view) you can see which tasks have outstanding checklist items that are incomplete.

I hope that sharing this tool with you has sparked your imagination about what’s possible for your life when you get your thoughts in order. If you have a different system that you use and love, comment on this blog so others can benefit from your discovery!

– Kara



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