I’ve been a huge fan of Trello since its early days and it’s now a key part of my life, from content calendars, personal to do’s and a vital tool in ensuring I stay productive. In this post, I’ll show you how to use Trello to manage and boost your productivity.

Running Personal Sprints with Trello

I implement a bastardised version of Scrum, a form of Agile project management that really helps me to ensure my client work is on track. Let me show you how this looks in practice within Trello. On on a mobile? Rotate screen for better view of image.

Here’s a breakdown of the columns you can see above:

Backlog – this is a list of all tasks, ever! Everything you know you need to do in order to fulfil your work commitments. My example has a short backlog, but it’s likely to be very long in ‘real-life’, if not, maybe you’re not working hard enough 😉.

On deck – I plan my sprint for the following week at 4pm every Friday. I look back on what was achieved in the ending sprint (known as a retrospective), what could have been slicker etc and if any tasks need to carry into the upcoming sprint. The tasks from the backlog that I need to complete are moved over into ‘on deck’. The upcoming sprint is then in concrete, you really should not add to it during the sprint.

Doing – These are task from ‘on deck’ that are in progress. Perhaps you’re waiting on feedback or input from another person in order to finish the task, moving it here is a nice way of showing yourself where you’re at.

Done – Whoohoo! You’ve nailed a task. Move it here and do a little dance. You may of course have recurring tasks that need worked in every sprint (Facebook ad optimisation would be one from my example above), just move them back to ‘on deck’ when you’re planning.

Archive – This is optional, however, I like to keep all completed tasks here, it’s a nice reference point for the future.

Note – you don’t need to create a new board for each sprint, that would be crazy, just change the date in the board title.

Adding detail to the tasks

Each ‘card’ (in this case, task) has numerous option within it that allow you add detail to a task. Like this:

The task description is a brief summary of the task. Funny that. You can then break the tasks down into chunks using a checklist and track your progress.

Trello is also great for collaborating and task allocation, for example, if you’re working in a team and you’re in charge of allocating tasks, use the ‘members’ button and assign that task to a team member, they can then view what’s in their sprint for the week ahead. It’s worth saying that not all sprints have to be a week, it’s up to you, however, just make sure they’re realistic!

You can also store any related documents within the card, very helpful for centralising everything that’s required to get the job done. Integrate Trello with Google Drive and you’re really winning.

If a task has a definitive deadline, add a due date to it. This can help you prioritise tasks for particular sprints.

Using a points system

True scrum agile uses a points system that allocates x amount of points to a task. In software engineering, the points relate to the complexity of a task. All team members have a number of points available within a sprint, once their points are maxed out, they can’t be allocated any further sprint tasks/items.

I found it difficult to define the complexity of marketing tasks, so, I use points as a unit of time; one point = one hour. I’ve updated my example board to show this:

You’ll see the points allocated to each task in brackets. When you add tasks to the backlog and you’re happy that they are 100% what needs to be tackled in that sprint, total up the points. You need to allocate a total number of points that can be worked in a week.

I tend to work to 40 points. If your total surpasses that, you should weigh-up whether the ‘on deck’ items are realistic. I will sat that I don’t think that allocating points is 100% necessary for this method to be useful, as long as you’re disciplined with your time, you’ll benefit from using this productivity technique.

Over to you

That’s it! If you’re struggling to stay productive or organise your workload, I hope this helps! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments, tweet on @mike_mcgrail or email hello@velocitydigital.co.uk (intentionally not a mailto link, they suck).

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