Getting organized and staying organized is an essential part of any project, and for sure for a business!
In whatever stage you are of your endeavor – brainstorming, starting or accelerating – having a foundation where growth can happen is as vital.
To be honest, when I first tried out Trello, I thought it’s not my cup of tea!
I just wasn’t hooked.
In some way I found this concept of moving cards left or right, up or down – strange. (To put it mildly.)
So for the next two years or so, I tried a lot of ToDo-apps and programs – on phone, tablet and computer. Whether that were checkmark tools, plain lists or programs with nice visuals. But there was always something missing.
After stumbling again and again across reviews and use cases of Trello, I decided to give it another try. I begun to dig a little deeper and explored the rich features that were lurking in the background.
Then I was hooked.
Playing around with these Trello features, I finally understood Trello’s potential and how it could help me to store and sort through my ideas and notes. – Today I can say, I am really glad I did. Because later I discovered how to use these Trello features along with automations. I created workflows I never thought to be possible … but that’s another story. First things first.
But What Exactly Is Trello?
The most simple explanation comes from Trello itself:
“A Trello board is a series of lists, with a bunch of cards attached.”
The basic setup in Trello consists of 3 things:
- Lists – these are the column headers of the board. The eternal classic kinds of lists are, “To Do”, “Doing”, and “Done”.
- Cards – the cards can be moved from one list to another by simply dragging and dropping them.
Trello Features You Should Know & Use
The Trello features I am about to introduce to you will bring your projects and business into an organized flow. Trello possesses features such as following up on tasks, over coloring labels, adding attachments or creating automations with other applications. If organizing your projects requires flexibility, Trello can help you with that as well.
Here’s a pullout of what Trello has to offer to enhance the organization of your data for any area of your business:
1 – Checklists
They are easy to create (even with copy & paste), to adjust and even can be copied to new cards.
I discovered that when copying a cooking recipe into a checklist, every single line of the recipe gets automatically assigned a row in the checklist!
Also, checklists can be reordered. Just click and drop them.
If you have multiple checklists in one card, you can also items between checklists.
Did you know you can create cards from checklist items and link these together?
Does it surprise you to hear that you can set up workflows that create cards whenever you add a checklist item to an existing checklist? I recommend you read that article of mine that shows you 11 clever hacks to tame your Trello chaos.
2 – Labels
Are a way to categorize and sort your cards. Label names are customizable, and you can give a card multiple labels. It’s also very handy that you can use a filter to display only those cards with a certain label.
Labels can for instance measure a task’s difficulty or urgency, or whatever you like.
As you see in this board, I am making extensive use of labels. Colors indicate for example whether a tool is free or paid, whether I use it myself, whether I have featured it in a blog post or newsletter, whether it included automations, and a few more.
3 – Attachments
You can add anything from screenshots to PDFs to Word documents to a Trello card. With the relevant power-up installed, you can even add files from your GoogleDrive or Dropbox to a card.
When you click on an attachment, it will open right inside Trello; you don’t have to download anything. Very convenient. Quick & easy reviews. I fell in love with this feature on the tablet!
4 – Shortcuts
Working with shortcuts makes your move in Trello more enjoyable – once you got used to a particular shortcut. There’s something satisfying about it to see a certain action taking place after hitting just one key of your keyboard.
For instance, the “t” shortcut edits the card title, and with the “e” shortcut you can edit the card’s description.
Even cooler is, that you can hover over a card, press either one, and the card will open up so that you can begin editing the chosen field.
Hitting “escape” closes or cancels any editable fields, pop-over menus, or dialog windows that are open.
5 – Due Dates
This is one of those Trello features that is important for those who do project work, or are – in whatever way – forced to finished work by a certain date.
Within Trello, you can set a date and time for when a card is “due”.
A badge is then added to the card indicating the due date. Due dates can be edited and removed, you can also subscribe to a card to receive notification 24hrs. before a card is due.
Since I discovered how to automate Trello, I have been using automations extensively for due dates.
With Butler for Trello, you can do all kind of stuff with due dates: sorting cards automatically by its due date, or filtering cards that are overdue, and lots of other neat little workflows. A first impression of what is awaiting you when you let Butler help you to tame your Trello chaos, you can get with the 11 automation ideas I am presenting in this article.
If Butler for Trello is totally new to you and you want to find out more about it, hop over to my free online course and enroll! In the course I am giving a thorough introduction into Butler (which you can get started with for free!), and you will learn about many use cases to set up workflows.
Here are a few examples of the kind of tasks that can be achieved with Butler for Trello commands targeting due dates:
Butler for Trello is a tool that runs with PLAIN English. You don’t need to know any programming language to get started with it.
As you can see in the four examples above, you can schedule certain actions when a card becomes due.
- You can make it switch lists
- You can move it to the top of a specified list
- You can add labels or stickers to it, to make it more obvious that a card is due in your crowded board.
6 – Power-Ups
This feature was previously only available for Trello Business users. But even free users can enable up to one so-called Power-Up in Trello. And if you have Trello Gold, you can use up to three Power-Ups per board.
What it basically is, it’s an integration to an external application into a board in Trello. The number of available power-ups is growing, but some examples of what tools you can connect to Trello are: Box, Dropbox, Evernote, GitHub, GoogleDrive, Google Hangouts, HelpScout, MailChimp, Package Tracker, SalesForce, Slack, Twitter, and dozens more.
7 – Calendar
Every single board can have its own calendar. Each of these calendars has its own feed, that can be integrated with 3rd party calendars like the GoogleCalendar or iCal.
Many bloggers use the Calendar Power-Up in conjunction with a Trello board that functions as an Editorial Calendar. It is self-evident to use this feature to track the progress of articles and posts.
If you are looking for something more sophisticated to build with Trello, you may want to have a look into the Rolling Calendar I have set up within one of my Trello boards. Check out this video get an idea how it works. And if you want to build one for yourself (you will need a little automation helper called Butler for Trello; I mentioned it above), the quickest would be to get the Workflow Kit for Rolling Calendar I have developed, and implement the tested commands into your board.
8 – Access Restrictions
Every board can be made private (only for the user who created the board), public (for everyone visible with the link; it will also be visible in search engines) or restricted to the team (only team members will be able to edit).
To invite someone to a board, click Add Members in the menu and either enter their email address or copy the link underneath and share it with the person or group.
9 – Subscriptions
This is another of these Trello features, that I find very useful. Particularly in a board where there are many active people, subscriptions are invaluable.
In general, there are three kind of subscriptions possible.
First, with subscriptions to boards, the activities on a board can be monitored. This feature actually changed name over time. It is now called “Watch”. To activate the board watch feature, click on Menu, then on More and on Watch. A notification bar in the menu is added, making it obvious to you that you are watching this board and allowing you to quickly disable it should it all get too much.
Secondly, there are card subscriptions. Upon opening a card, you can see the Watch action listed. Once you activate it, you get notified every time something changes on the card.
Thirdly, you can watch a list. Upon doing so, you will get notifications for newly created cards, for moved or archived cards within this list, for added comments or for added, changed and upcoming due dates. – Pretty much, huh?
It’s certainly a great Trello features, but you also need to balance reasons for using it. It could become very noisy if you use them all. Less is more here.
Adding Content to a Board
Adding content to a board is much more fun than it sounds.
10 – Typing
Of course there is the classical way of typing.
You can click on a card, give it a title and then open up the card and fill it with texts, comments, ideas, links, attachments, pictures – anything you like.
11 – Drag & Drop a URL
A second option is creating a card from some web source by simple dragging the URL over to a board.
Let’s say you found an interesting article you want to save as a reference. What you can do, is drag the URL from the browsers address line and drop it into a list on your board. It instantly creates a new card including the original link, a description and even a picture.
12 – WebClipper
If you are using the Chrome browser, you can also install a little app into the browser – called WebClipper. With this browser add-on you can easily add URLs to any board and list.
13 – Spreadsheet Columns
A spreadsheet’s column can entirely converted into a card and then either be split line by line in several cards or encompassed as whole in one card.
14 – Files from Computer
You can simply drag a file from your computer and drop it into a list. Uploading was never easier.
15 – Email to Board
This a helpful tool if you want to collect emails directly in Trello, or send emails to a specific card.
Each board has a unique email-address that stores all emails sent to this address in a pre-chosen list.
To grab a card’s unique email address, open the card, click “Share and more” at the bottom of the card’s menu, and copy the email address in “Email for this card.”
Customizing your Boards with these Trello Features
16 – Add Your Own Background Images
With the free version you can choose between eight background colors for a board, whereby blue the standard is. Occasionally, in exchange for some social networking Trello offers a temporary upgrade to Trello Gold.
In this mode, you can replace the basic background colors of your created boards with images of your choice and create unique and beautiful boards that reflect the board’s content or your business.
17 – Add Free Background Images from Unsplash
18 – Your Company’s Logo
If you have Trello Gold or Trello Business, you can even place your company’s logo to an image of your choice, which you can upload yourself. A little preparation is necessary, though.
To create your own board background with your company’s logo, make sure you stick to these guidelines here:
- Board background image dimension: 1280px x 720px
- Logo dimension: 400px wide
- Logo placement: 60px from the bottom left corner and 30px from the left side
Automating Trello Tasks with IFTTT
IFTTT is a service that connects web applications, and automates interactions between them. I have given an extensive example in this blogpost, where I describe how to set up a Board in Trello, which automatically stores any tweet you mark as a favorite.
To create an automation with IFTTT, you can use only those applications that are included in its channel empire.
To make use of IFTTT, you will need to create a recipe.
A recipe consists of a trigger and an action, and first you’ll have to research what triggers and actions are at all possible within Trello.
Trello’s current triggers are:
- Card added to a board
- Card added to a list
- Card assigned to a person
The only action currently available in Trello is the creation of a card.
Some useful IFTTT recipes
Create scheduled and recurring Trello cards
Do you have regularly upcoming tasks? Connect Trello with the Date & Time-Channel in IFTTT, and set up regular reminder cards in the board of your choice.
What if you could label an email in your Gmail account and have it come up in a Trello board? – Well, you can! Whether it’s a sales lead you want to track in Trello, or a job application you want to add to the Job Hire board, you can set up a distinctive label in Gmail, create a recipe in IFTTT, and off you go. (You can find an example of a recipe below.)
I have now found a way how to automate cards, lists, and boards in Trello in beautiful and fascinating ways. You don’t need to be a geek to accomplish that! There’s a tool for it that comes with a free as well as paid plans, and let’s you automate Trello in ways, you didn’t even dare dream of. If that interests you, I recommend you read my 4-part introductory articles on this, and check out the free online course I have created with the link below.