Useful Productivity Website: Trello

I’m really enjoying Trello.com at the moment.

The story behind the site is that the people at FogCreek built a tool so the people in their teams can see at a glance what everyone is working on. They then decided it would be a good idea to make it available to everyone else!

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The basic idea is the system is made up of three things.

Boards – a collection of lists – a board can be an abstraction of a specific project. A project folder if you were doing this without a computer.

Lists – a collection of cards – imagine a stage in a process (e.g To-Do, In Progress, Complete) -  Think of it as a piece of paper if you were doing this without a computer.

Cards – an activity of work – a specific something that needs to be done – an entry on your piece of paper if you were doing this without a computer. What’s really good about cards is they start as just a title but if you drill down you can add as many or as little details as needed (comments, work complete, embed pictures and videos)

Sounds simple enough? Hope that makes sense!

You create a series of lists – add some cards and then you can shift those cards between lists as work gets done.

So here’s a simple example of how I’ve been using it.

I’ve got a board called WORK

On this board I’ve got three lists.

To Do   -   Doing   – Done

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I add things I need to do into the “To-Do” list. If i need to add extra details I can but generally the title is enough.

imageInitial card creation.

 

imageCard in more detail. You can add pictures, video, text. Assign team members or categorise with colour labels.

 

 

 

 

As I start to work on a specific item I drag it into the “Doing” list. I update the list if needed if it’s a work in process and I’m not completing it straight away. Obviously once the task is complete it’s dragged into the “Done” list.

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Dragging to the Doing list.

 

 

 

 

Nice and simple. It’s just me using these but I can see it getting really powerful when a group of people get involved. Especially when assigning a task to someone is as simple as dragging their avatar onto the card.

So how’s this different to other collaboration applications?

Everything is so easy. Data entry consists of typing and pressing enter. You can fire off a series of new entries really quickly. There is no constant clicking ok / save every time you do anything. You can enter a little or as much detail as you feel like. Very importantly – it just works.

Finally you can use it on just about any device you like. I’ve been using it on my TouchPad in the office instead of keeping lots of paper lists hanging around my desk. Also because it’s web based if I think of something I need to do it only takes a second to get onto the site and add something new. It’s then available everywhere I’ve got a web browser.

Sign up is really easy too. You can either create an account on the site or sign in with an existing Google account.

The Trello homepage gives some really good usage examples.

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It’s honestly worth spending ten minutes taking a look – it’s free!

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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