There’s a project deadline looming. You’re not sure what it is, but you know it’s coming. You also know there’s a client meeting in 30 minutes and you find yourself scanning your notes and wondering “has the research been done yet? And if not, who was it assigned to?” If this scenario sounds all too familiar, it may be time to consider using a task management application.
Enter Trello by Fog Creek. Trello is a free task management application that can help individuals, small teams, and even organizations stay on task in a very simplistic way. With over one millions users, Trello has been a “sleeping giant” of sorts for several years and was named in “The 7 Coolest Start-ups You Haven’t Heard of Yet” by Lifehacker in 2011. In a nutshell it’s a way to organize projects, goals, brainstorming sessions, and even product launches in an easy-to-understand horizontal format. In one glance, users are able to see who’s working on what, what’s “done,” and what tasks still need attention. Trello also has the ability to assign tasks to specific people on your team to eliminate the “who’s working on what” questions that can often derail projects.
Trello is made up of four main features:
Organization: The name of the business or the team within a business.
Boards: Represent team projects.
Lists: Represent stages for workflow.
Cards: Represent specific projects and tasks that move between the Lists.
To begin. you need to create an Organization (which is the same as an account) under your business, team, or personal name. Once your organization is created, it’s time to create Boards. Each Board can represent a specific client, event, or project. Within your Boards you have Lists, and by default they are labeled To Do, Doing, and Done.” If these default labels don’t fit your needs, you can create new Lists with your own labels (Research, Brainstorming, Known Issues, etc.) by clicking the Add Lists on Trello’s right sidebar. This system of Boards, Lists, and Cards help businesses track the pieces of projects as they move through the stages of production.
Like I mentioned above, Cards represent specific tasks that needs to be accomplished within a project. These Cards can be assigned to certain members of your team, and once assigned; a thumbnail photo of that team member appears in the lower right corner of the Card. To move your Cards across to the List columns is a simple drag-n-drop process. Cards also have additional features within them like Checklists, Notes, and Due Dates.
According to Trello, one of their most popular features is their Checklist feature that allows you to create a mini To Do list within a Card. As team members check things off the checklist a progress bar advances and shows you and your team what’s left to be done. You can also drag-n-drop the items on your Checklist to keep undone tasks toward the top.
If you’ve fallen into the “sticky-notes-on-a-white-board” trap with your projects, Trello is a streamlined way to take back control and propel your projects forward in a more organized and structured way.
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