Some would say i am a pretty organized person. I sometimes it doesn’t feel like that, however most of the time I would say i am generally pretty organized compared to most people I know. My problem has sometimes been my tracking of what i need to do has gotten too complex.
For several years I had been trying (and sometimes succeeding) at following the Getting Things Done approach to taking care of my actions. I had been using a web service called Remember The Milk to do that. I have written about it a few times in the past. RTM has iPhone and iPad apps that made it easy to take my actions lists with me and edit them offline. I was content using it for several years but sometimes I dabbled with other systems trying to find something better. I never really found anything and always ended up back with RTM.
Back in 2014 I started implementing a kanban approach to some procedures we do at work. Reading up on kanban has gotten me to think adopt some of the concepts to my personal life. That line of thinking got me to branch out from RTM. A big part of kanban is visualizing your work. RTM just generates basic lists. I tried having several lists to denote different steps on a personal kanban system but it was lacking a lot of the visual element when i couldn’t see all the steps at the same time. I also had challenges with sorting projects in RTM. I could create them but that required a smart list for each project. That caused me to have a ton of different smart lists that i had to look at in order to see my tasks. RTM also had a limitation in that they didn’t offer sub tasks for a task so in order to group several actions together i had to create a project even if it was small and could be represented by one “card” and several sub tasks.
In searching for several different options I came across Trello. After testing and playing around with several similar applications I settled on moving my work and personal task management to Trello. Since the summer of 2014 my use of Trello has exploded. Not only do I use it for personal and work boards. I track meeting agendas in it. At one point we had a training schedule at work using it. For personal projects such as planning for vacation we use it. I have a board for places we want to try or like to go to for lunch at work. The board I like to show as an example of how to use it when people ask is my Mixology board. There I clipped from the web recipes of mixed drinks that I want to learn or have already mastered creating. I try to share a few family boards with my wife however she is not as big on task organization as I am.
The biggest drawback to Trello originally was the fact that there mobile applications didn’t really handle off-line synchronization. In the past year however they’ve added that functionality so while I’m on the subway I am able to update a board or individual cards and they sync up to the cloud when I get network signal. There are some small limitations to this however not something that has prevented me from using it. Things like checklists don’t load when you open the card without network signal.
I’ve been happy to pay the five dollars or so a month in their Trello Gold subscription. I almost want to pay for the full $15 a month professional plan however no one else I interact with does that so functionality would be limited.
In the several years that I’ve been using Trello (I didn’t realize it has been over 3 already) I have tried to look for alternatives. Not because I’m unhappy, just because I’m always looking for the next great option. Folks at work have used the GIT task board. I have played with Microsoft office 365’s task boards and neither of them come close to ease-of-use or functionality. So for now Trello it is. Until at least Atlassian messes it up now that they own it. Here’s to hoping they don’t.