Amir XYZ

An approach for using Trello to stay focused daily

April 26, 2018

Basically I have a list of what I want to do and what I'm doing these days in general. I move cards between them as I choose what I want to work on today or tomorrow. When I'm back home from work and have time to do the real work that's important in life then I open my board and see what I was working on instead of getting lost in a sea of thoughts.

I've iterated over the years with different productivity methods using Trello and came up with this. It's what I'm using for about half a year now and I find it nice when I remember to actually follow it.

My suggested columns for this approach are:

  1. Task pool, keep this around ~10 cards (never happens)
  2. I want today
  3. Weekend
  4. Done
  5. Archive
  6. Waiting

A snapshot of my Current Brain Pool

Tasks that go in the Task Pool are the things I'm working on right now. In my current case it's a song, a game I build in Unity, some other development related projects, and music.

If during the day I start something that belongs to this list, or think of something I want to start, I add it to this list. However, I try to keep all of these "current projects" at about 10 items to not get overwhelmed. In this case, just add the project or idea to a different broader-view or long-term board to not have it forgotten.

From the Task Pool I drag things into I Want Today and this is where the interesting stuff happens. After I get back from work I open my Brain Pool board and look at the board's I Want Today list. I usually have some things from yesterday's night I put here and now I can get back to working on them instead of drifting into random ideas. This is the key to staying focused and productive.

It can be nice to add a stub-card with a sticker to have this list pop up as you glance over the document after opening.

Oh, tasks in the Task Pool can be "Playing Witcher 3" as well. It's not only for boring work-like things. I'm actually adding it right now!

When you are done working on a task in I Want Today, move it over to Done. It's always good to have a look at what you've accomplished. Note that if the task is a repeating task or a long-running task, just copy instead of moving. This way you can choose to work on it again and still have the feeling of accomplishment.

I label my tasks into a few high-level categories and try to have different label colors pile up in my Done list so I know I have progress in all my life's parts.

The labels I choose for my life's tracks

Every now and then I archive all the cards in my Done list.

Some tasks can be postponed to the Weekend, where you have more time to work on them rather than the much less tight schedule between work and bed time (and girlfriend and food and shower) during the week.

The remaining lists, Archive and Waiting are just to put things aside for a while. I don't have a specific rule for using them. Archive is somewhat like a limbo between Brain Pool and that other broad-view board I mentioned, as well as a way to keep the Task Pool at ~10. I should get rid of this Archive when I think of this. Too many items distracts you from what you're doing.

Remember that what works for me will most probably not work the same for you. Feel free to take ideas from my method and integrate them into your own workflow. That is what I've done after reading a lot about what other people do and after many trials and errors learning what works best for me. If you find something useful please share, I'll include it here with a big thank-you.

Good night.