I’ve always been a “to-do list” queen. I like getting all of the thoughts in my head down onto paper so I can create an organized gameplan to get tasks accomplished. Throughout my school days, I was always so excited to pick out my planner for the school year and I loved crossing off each task, activity, and assignment in my cute little notebook.
As an adult, I’ve tried different planners and methods over the years, even using a huge white board to plan my days a few years back. But now, I use Trello to plan my weeks and it’s been a great tool for me. I’ve mentioned my Trello use a few times on Instagram and I was always bombarded with DMs, asking me to explain how I set it up to organize my week. I figured it was finally time to share how I use it!
I’ll first say, that I’m not a pro at it. I’m sure there are tons of awesome features that I’m not using at all. But, I’m here to show you how I use it and how it works for me. So, take some of my tips, do some digging of your own, and figure out how to use this free software for your own life.
Why I Like Trello
Trello is essentially a list-making application. I mostly use it on my computer, but I also have the app downloaded on my phone, so I can check out my tasks if I’m out and about. Here are some of the reasons why I like it…
- It’s FREE!
- It is accessible from anywhere, including your phone, computer, iPad, and it syncs if you make any changes
- You can add links, attachments, and checklists within tasks
- It is easy to move tasks around
- The format is very visual, with color-coding options
My Weekly Planning Philosophy
I’ve shared my time management philosophy on the blog before, and you can check it out in this blog post, but I’ll sum it up again. I use the rock, pebbles, and sand approach when it comes to planning out my time. This method is built on Stephen Covey’s concept of “rocks, pebbles and sand”. (This video explains it well.) The rocks represent important commitments; the sand represents the “small stuff” (i.e. emails, administrative tasks); and the pebbles represent the other actions that move the needle, in terms of your personal and career growth.
Essentially, the analogy is that making the most of your time is like filling a jar with rocks, pebbles, and sand. In order to make everything fit, you start with the rocks, add the pebbles, and finally pour in the sand. That’s the only way to fit in all of the things on your to-do list, while still reaching your big goals.
Using Trello to Plan My Week
The way I set up my Trello board is to make a column for every day of the week. I do one for Saturday and Sunday too, but it was getting a bit too wide to include in this view, so we’ll just stick to my work week, for this example.
I start by adding in all of my “rocks” for the week. They include appointments (dentist, doctor, haircut, etc.), conference calls and even workouts! These are all saved in my Google Calendar, when I originally schedule them. So, I have both my personal and business Google calendars open when I create my schedule for the week. I also color code things. (Pink = Workouts; Red = Appointments; Green = Recurring Tasks.)
I add all of my repeating tasks, using the “copy” button. Four days a week, I publish a blog post, so I copy those to all of the correct days.
You can also add more information to each task. For example, I have a checklist for my “Daily Post” task, where I can cross off the tasks I do every morning when a new blog post publishes.
Adding More Tasks
With those things out of the way, I can add my “pebbles” and then my “sand.” Again, I try to color coordinate some of the bigger, more recurring tasks (Orange = Blog Posts; Yellow = Financials; Blue = DIY Projects.) For the most part, I try to set up my day in the order that I want to accomplish each task. My Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are always much busier than the other days because my mom is watching Rory. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I don’t set too many high expectations for myself and I keep my to-do list fairly minimal. Also, if I have a large DIY project that will take up most of the day, I try not to schedule much else on that day, either.
Another nice feature is that you can add attachments to any task. I’ll often add contracts with brands to specific writing tasks. That way, I can easily reference the contract and make sure I’m hitting all of my deliverables. You can also add due dates and even invite other members to specific tasks, but I don’t find those options useful for the way I use Trello.
You’ll notice I don’t have laundry or cleaning tasks on my list. That’s because laundry is pretty much continuous (with Rory around it never stops) and we now have cleaners come out every other week to deep clean the house. That was a decision we made so we can spend more time with Rory on the weekends, instead of cleaning for hours! But those are definitely tasks that you could add to your Trello board too!
Tips for Mapping Out a Successful Week
Here are more tips that I follow when I use Trello to plan my week.
- Reassess each morning: Every morning, when I sit down at my computer, I take a look at that day’s tasks and I’ll often move things around, adjust the order, or even move tasks to a different day.
- Don’t overload your days: I used to add too many tasks to my Tuesdays and Thursdays and I would be disappointed when I couldn’t fit everything in. Now, I know better and keep those days lighter. I try to really think of what I can accomplish that day and set realistic expectations for my time.
- Make time to plan: The most important thing you can do is set aside time to create your weekly plan. Every Friday afternoon, I take at least 30 minutes to plan out the next week. That way, I can start right away on Monday morning and I don’t forget any lingering to-dos from the previous week.
- Archive when done: Once I complete a task, I hit the archive button and it’s removed from that day. I love seeing the tasks for each day go down and down as I accomplish things.
So, there you have it…how I use Trello to plan my week, both for personal activities and for my business. I think there are so many ways you can make this work for you! You might want to create multiple boards – one for your personal life, one for business, one for meal planning that could even include a grocery list, etc. The possibilities are endless for creating an organized life!