How to implement getting things done with Trello

There are many blogs and videos about the GTD (getting things done) process. This blog is not meant to explain the mechanics of GTD. A really good video about GTD can be found here. You can also read some of my other blogs on the subject (starting with this one. Also if you have knowledge of scrum, you can read my blog about my thoughts of the two), or simply google “GTD” or “Getting Things Done”. You will find a lot of information about it.

The official website for GTD is www.davidco.com.

This blog explains the way I setup MY GTD system with Trello. It is certainly not the only way or the “right” way to do that 🙂

To make things clear (here comes the legal part of this blog), I am not licensed, certified, approved, or endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with David Allen or the David Allen Company which is the creator of the Getting Things Done® system for personal productivity. GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. For more information on the David Allen Company’s products, please visit their website: www.davidco.com.

Getting things done

Background:

In my previous blog I explained the reason for moving from Omnifocus to Trello. I’ve been using Omnifocus for over 6 years, and Trello and Omnifocus are very different. Omnifocus was built specifically for GTD, while Trello was built as a generic lists system. I had to add some missing functionality to Trello, as well as implement some mechanisms to provide me with statistical information relating to my Trello usage by connecting Trello with a mysql database using their API.

The system I describe in this blog does not rely on the previous blogs, although having the extra “bells and whistles” can certainly help.

You can read more about my GTD setup with omnifocus. Personally I found  that my GTD system with Trello is much simplified, and for the first time ever I was actually able to mash my personal life and my work related activities into one system.

My current Trello setup:

  • A single Trello board with 10 lists (from left to right):
    • Inbox
    • Yearly Goals
    • Projects
    • Sometime Maybe
    • Discuss With
    • Waiting for
    • Next week
    • This week
    • Today
    • Done
  • Inbox: This list is the entry point to all activities. During the day I will collect information into this list through different channels:
    • I forward emails that I do not have the time to respond to.
    • I capture ideas using my iPhone reminders App (using Siri dictation, or braintoss.
    • I simply open the App on my laptop / iPad or iPhone and type new ideas / things I am committing myself to do, or things that I remember that I need to perform.
    • An Alfred workflow I created to send ideas to my Trello Inbox.
  • Yearly goals: A list of very high level goals I have for the year, it helps reminding me what’s important this year, and provides an insight into new projects.
  • Projects: This is a simple list of projects. Each project has the following information in the description:
    • Intentions: Why do I have this project in my list. What is the purpose of this project?
    • Success Criteria: How does success of this project look like? How does it look when it is done?

    These are projects that can take anywhere from months to days to complete.

  • Sometime Maybe: Anything that I am not prepared to do yet.
  • Discuss with: Items that I need to discuss with others about, When I am in a meeting, or have some time to chat with people, I pull that list, and quickly remove items from it.
  • Waiting for: Anything that is dependent on something else. Either something that I am waiting for someone else to get back to me, or something that has to happen before I can move on this item.
  • Next week: Literally, things that I would like to achieve next week.
  • This week: Items that I would like to complete this week. Whenever I need more things to do, I move things from this list to the “ASAP” list.
  • ASAP: Things that I am currently working on. I need to get to doing them as soon as possible. Ideally they come from the “This week” list versus directly from the inbox.
  • Done: Completed items. Once I move them to “done” they get archived.
trello-board

Use of labels:

Trello allows for unlimited labels with 10 colours (11 is you count the “no colour” colour). I use labels to tag three main types:

  • Contexts (People, places, Hardware)
  • Projects (those labels start with P-)
  • Completed projects (those labels start with CP-)

Colour does make a difference. The colour of labels dictate the order they show (Green shows first, followed by Yellow, brown , red, purple etc), so for example the completed projects labels are in black, so they show at the end of the label list.

Starting some label types with a letter allow for quick filtering when typing searches.

I hope that this blog help you with figuring out what will work best for you. That’s what works for me (for now).