October 15, 2013

What is Trello? How to use Trello to Organize Everything

Eric Griffin

Trello touts itself as a “collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards”, but that just doesn’t drive home how powerful of a tool it can be. As someone who previously relied on to-do lists for just about everything, it has changed the way I organize my thoughts, projects, and tasks – to the point where I am obsessed with finding new ways to use it (we even used it to redesign this blog). Because of the ability to attach files, add checklists, assign users and due dates, search, add labels (the list goes on and on), there really is no end to the possibilities. Here are some great examples of how you can use Trello in business and life.

Projects and Collaboration

This one is no secret, in fact it’s the reason it was created in the first place. Trello does a great job of showing this off in their Trello Development Board, so much so that it convinced us to use it for our product design process. Gone are the days of a multitude of check-lists to keep track of devices we need to purchase, receive, design, and add to the website – all of these were combined on a single Trello board:
Trello and the Clear-Coat Design ProcessAnother great example is this board, which shows how Khan Academy uses Trello to plan their exercises.

To-Do Lists

I used to love the simplicity of a to-do list – add something on to it, and check it off when it’s done. There’s a huge benefit, however, to going beyond the binary “done” and “not done” status for your tasks. What about things that are in progress? What about things that have several steps before they are considered “done”? With a simple to-do app, you need several lists to track everything – with Trello, you only need one.

For example, I’m moving to a new house in a few weeks. When I started the process, I had a bunch of separate to-do lists for things I have to buy, do, fix, and what’s in progress. Trello proved to be a better tool to track my tasks, by letting me lay out all of my to-do lists in one board that has the same “done” status for everything. It’s also handy to attach images of products I want to buy, schedule due dates for setting up utilities, and adding comments as new thoughts come up.
After Trello: To-Do Lists


Trello is great for grocery shopping. You can organize your board however you’d like (by aisle, by department, etc) and load up your shopping list. When I buy items, instead of checking them off as complete, I drag them to the “Inventory” column. This way I know what’s in stock at my house – and when I use it up, I can drag it back to the list it belongs to. Before you know it you’ll be tracking all of your groceries on hand, which is great for that impromptu meal planning.
Trello as a Grocery List

Gathering Feedback

Need to organize your thoughts AND get get feedback on what to do next? Trello has a voting feature that lets users vote on cards. Say you’re planning a trip with a bunch of friends, and you need to get ideas from everyone on where to go, when to go, and what to do. Trello lets your friends add their ideas to the list, then vote on what they like best.
Voting with Trello

RSS Feeds

Using Zapier, you can even add items from an RSS feed to a Trello board. Let’s say you’re hunting for an apartment on Craigslist. You can perform a search (say, for all 2 bed, 2 bath apartments between $600 and $800/mo in Philadelphia) and get the RSS feed to that search (bottom right hand corner). By making a Zap on Zapier, and using that RSS feed link from Craigslist, you can automatically add new apartments as they show up in your Craigslist search to your Trello board. Then, use your Trello board to sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly.RSS Feeds and Trello

There’s a ton more Trello can do that didn’t even make it in this article. You can create cards via email, view boards as a calendar, customize the look and feel, and integrate with your Dropbox or Google Drive account just to name a few. The best part? It’s FREE. Go see how Trello can help organize your life, and let us know in the comments how you use it!

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