Over two years ago, I wrote a post about Blogging – Geek Style, where I talked about Evernote and Trello. Two years is a long time, and it turns out, two apps are too many. While both apps are still on my phone, and my iPad, and my desktop (yes, I am still a geek and I still do geeky stuff for a living), only one is actively involved with my blogging. Evernote fought a good fight, but Trello wore it down like a rock in a river.
Both apps let you store, sort and otherwise organize notes. Both let you include links to other notes, to documents, photos and both let you associate due dates with notes that you’re trying to manage through a process. Trello simply does a better job of that last task. It’s easy. It’s intuitive and quite frankly, it’s fun to use. It’s also free, and the free version has just enough utility to be truly useful to a geeky blogger.
Trello lets you organize things in a hierarchy of Boards, Lists and Cards. I have about 30 boards in Trello. Most of those boards are work related. Some boards are for projects around our house, but the one I am going to focus on is the recently created board for No Facilities. Prior to having a board for my entire blog, I had one for Thursday Doors.
Within each board, you create lists. In the Thursday Doors board, I had lists for:
- Doors to shoot
- Photo’d but need betterResearch
- Ready to write
Those categories worked, but my doorscurrsions caused me to move through them very quickly, so the project management aspects were lost. Still, I liked the way Trello worked, so I decided to merge my Thursday Doors lists into a broader board for all the blogging ideas, artifacts and drafts.
My No Facilities board is simpler, it has two main lists, “Ideas” and “Drafts in Progress” and a few ancillary lists that I’ll explain if I don’t wear out my word count.
Trello includes several visual features to indicate things that would otherwise require more words. For example, I use color-coded labels to indicate whether the ideas I have are Thursday Doors ideas, One-Liner Wednesday ideas, If We Were Having a Beer, etc. I can also add a label to indicate that there is a Word Document draft in my Box (cloud-based storage) account, or an old draft sitting in Evernote. More importantly, I can easily link to those drafts so I can work out of Trello. Since Trello, Box and Word are all available as mobile apps, I can work off my laptop, my iPad or my phone. OK, I can’t work off my phone, unless I want to dramatically increase the workload of my editor.
The fun part of Trello comes from being able to drag and drop the cards within and between lists. If I decide to move what was considered a distant opportunity up to a near-future post, I can drag the card up in a list. If an ‘idea’ starts to become a post, I can drag it into the ‘Drafts’ list and slot it in the pecking order where it belongs. Looking at the drafts list, I can look ahead, usually at least a week, to remind me of what I need to be working on.
I mentioned that I use Box for storage, but if you aren’t running from home to hotel(s), you can link local files to Trello just as easily. What I like about Box is that Trello has an “power-up” add-on specifically for Box, and although power-ups are part of the premium (paid) version of Trello, you can use one with each board in the free version.
Another feature I like is the ability to send an email to a Trello board. When you set up that feature, you specify which list incoming email items land in. To keep my life simple, I created a list called “Landing Pad” for all incoming items. Because it’s so easy to move the items between lists, I can send an idea in and organize it later.
I also have lists for published posts. Since I had one in the Thursday Doors board, I just moved it into the No Facilities board. That process was extremely easy. Then I created an additional list for all other published posts. The published lists are a great way of quickly checking to see if I already wrote about a subject before. It’s faster, and easier to search Trello than it is to search my blog.
The gallery has a few more screen shots that help illustrate the features I’ve mentioned. There are also a few short videos that help illustrate the ease of moving the cards around. Please excuse the poor quality of the videos, it’s not my forte.
The videos are all less than 40 seconds long. They show some housekeeping tasks, organizing cards and using labels and power-ups: