I was very organised when I was younger. I had after-school activities planned out,I had a study timetable, I used the pomodoro technique, I had it down. In the intervening years, however, the wheels have kinda come off my organisation wagon and I sort of just bumbled along, getting things done but not feeling particularly effective. Big on the procrastination. It was starting to do my head in.
I tried to be better. I bought a diary every year and then sporadically used it. I wrote daily to do lists at work. But inevitably I became exhausted by having to repeatedly write the same thing down and ticking very little off. I mean, who has the time?
So a couple of months ago I decided to start using Trello. And it has effectively changed my work day and saved my ass so many times this year. The great thing about it is that you can make it work for you in whatever style you prefer, depending on what you need, and you can move things around really easily – a lot of my job is reactive so being able to quickly re-assess and re-prioritise tasks is a big help for me. There are a lot of handy resources out there to help you get started – I found this article particularly helpful.
I use Trello in three different ways. First, I have a whole bunch of project boards to help me keep track of the bigger picture things I’m working on – these boards have headers like ‘Upcoming opportunities’, ‘Ideas’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’. All my boards have ‘Done’ columns because I think it’s important to recognise how much work you have done on something and it’s also great for when you can’t remember what you’ve done come performance review time.
The project boards are great for getting ideas out of my head so I can actually get on with other stuff, but my most used board by far is my ‘Weekly To Do’ board. It’s your basic kind of to do list but because it’s so easy to add and move things, I’m much more diligent about using it, and I can add notes and attach files/links as things progress which make it a lot easier to keep track of where things are at. My columns are ‘On Hold’ for those projects that have stalled or are waiting confirmation from somewhere else, ‘Inbox’ for things that I need to do but aren’t critical for the week, and then ‘Monday’ through to ‘Friday’, plus a ‘Done: Name of Month’ column which I archive at the end of every month. A lot of my work is sensitive so I don’t really feel comfortable sharing it but hopefully this gives some idea of what I mean.
As you can see, I also categorise my cards according to subject (the coloured lines at the top of the cards). These are things like ‘Social’, ‘Stats’, ‘Recurring’, ‘International’, ‘Community’, ‘Planning’ and ‘Support’. It just allows me to sort through things a bit easier if I need to and makes certain key issues pop out more. All part of helping me prioritise.
This was so helpful for me, I decided to bring my personal life onto Trello as well. But I use the GTD method for this as I’m a little less time driven in this space. It also allows me to go from little every day things to big picture goals that I’d normally keep in my brain and stress about if I didn’t have this outlet. My first column is called ‘Big Picture/Projects’ and it’s where I classify my cards for lack of a better description. So for example I have a card in there called ‘Relocation’ that’s tagged green, and any cards that relate to moving my shiz to New Zealand gets tagged green so it falls under that. The idea being that by splitting a big goal into smaller tasks, it’ll make it easier to achieve. I also have a little list down the bottom of that column to remind me of what all the different colours I use relate to – it’s not needed but it makes it easier when I just want to give things a quick once over.
My other columns are ‘Inbox’ for new tasks that I need to sort in the right place, ‘Next Actions’ for things that I can/need to do asap, ‘Waiting’ for things that are on hold for whatever reason (time and money usually) and ‘Someday/Maybe’ for those things that I’d like to do when I have a spare second. It’s simple and easy and I actually check it all the time because I check my work to do list every day. Yay!
I still use a hard copy diary as well to write down appointments (and the bf’s appointments) and do meal planning – although I think I might move the latter to Trello as well. I of course also use the calendar on my phone as well but it’s mostly for reminders of things that I need to do RIGHT NOW OMG rather than a time planning thing.
It’s a bit of a multi-pronged approached but it’s the first time I’ve felt on top of things in AGES and I find it especially helpful in managing what can be a very stressful job for certain periods of the year.