6 Trello tricks for the uninitiated

Trello is the marmite of planning tools, but if you get to know it better you might just convert from a hater to a lover.

I am a rare breed. I did, in fact, convert from Marmite hater, to Marmite lover. Some said it wasn’t possible…but, I did it. So I know that no matter how much you dislike something, there is always a way to turn it around.

For many, Trello is just the worst. It hurts their eyes to look at the tightly packed columns rammed full of information. But like all good tools, it’s how you use it that matters.

For those not yet familiar, Trello is a Kanban-style digital project planning tool in which you create project cards and add them to columns. The ways you can use Trello are endless, and that’s possibly part of the problem: Organising is down to the user.

I learnt early doors to respect the cards and create as much order as possible. There are loads of ways to do this – here’s six that you can use on the free plan.

1. ‘Search cards’

I’m opening with the best of all of the Trello solutions, and that is the filter function.

I’m not sure why it’s so hidden, and I’ve spoken to loads of people who’ve missed it, but it’s right there in the menu under ‘Search cards’.

Clicking this feature allows you to search by term, label, member, or due time filtering out all cards that don’t apply and decluttering the board in an instant.

2. Labels

Which leads me on to my favourite way to organise in Trello – add labels to everything. For example, all of my blog content is labelled ‘BLOG’, allowing me to filter all content by that label. If I want to see what blogs I have coming up, I just search by BLOG label.

Labels also add a visual reference point for each card when you’re in board view, so you can see at a glance which cards have which label.

Feeling the love for Trello yet? No? Ok let’s try another…

3. Calendar power up

The next feature is not only useful, it’s essential if you’re working to dates. The Calendar feature isn’t available as standard, but if you want to spend your one Power Up per board wisely, this is where you’ll get your value.  

The Calendar allows you to toggle your view to see all of your cards in a calendar, as long as you’ve assigned a date to the card. This means you can have a single view of all of your upcoming deadlines in order. If Trello didn’t have this feature, I wouldn’t be using it.

4. Checklists

Checklists can be used in many ways to create order in your cards. Add a list of to-dos for each card, or a list of essential steps, or a list of things to buy, or a list of people to contact… you get the idea.

A great feature is that if you want to repeat a checklist on another card you can just select it from a drop down of lists you’ve already made and add it to the new card, saving precious time.

5. Templates

If you don’t have the time or inclination to build your board from scratch, Trello has a wide range of templates to choose from, everything from a home workout planner to an inbound marketing campaign template. Just select the template and start adding your own cards. Each template comes with a description and guide notes in the columns to help you along.

6. Automation

Automation sounds like something you need a degree in computer science to achieve, but Trello makes it as simple as possible, and it can save you a heap of time.

Using Trello’s Butler service you can create simple rules that allow you to do things like automatically add a label to a card if it has a certain word in its title.

The free plan only allows you to create one automation rule across all of your boards, so use it wisely if you don’t want to pay.

To save you even more time you can also create Card Buttons and Board Buttons that apply several rules in the click of a button across individual cards or boards. Pretty clever stuff.

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(Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

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