trello logoStaying organized and on top of everything at work can be killer. Team projects, to-do lists, meeting agendas, follow-ups, calendar events—it all piles on until you feel yourself sinking under an ocean of details.

To stem the workflow tide, we recommend Trello, a free, web-based project management and task tool. In our Marketing Department, we’ve been using Trello to manage our editorial calendar, press schedules, website updates, and more.

The Trello interface gives you an unlimited number of “cards,” on which you can list your to-do items, activities, events, or whatever you like (it's like a web version of index cards or Post-Its). You can then arrange your cards in different “lists,” and arrange those lists on different “boards.” It's deceptively simple and intuitive, but allows for lots of flexibility and collaboration.

So, for example, we created a board called “Editorial,” which houses all the content we need to keep track of for publication. This includes our blog, newsletters, press releases, and social media posts, each of which we turned into a list. Within those lists, each article or post gets its own card:

Trello Overview 3

Both cards and lists have drag-and-drop functionality, so it's easy to move them around if you need to. Cards are very customizable: You can assign due dates, create checklists, add comments, attach photos and links, add customized labels, or assign to team members. For us, this makes it simple and quick to see an article's status and when it's scheduled to post, make a note about it, and adjust it on the calendar if necessary.

When you click on a card, you get an expanded, detailed view—below you can see a card for an article we posted last week about teaching kids to code, complete with its due date, checklist items, the photo we wanted to use with it, and comments about what more was needed.

Trello Card for a Table XI article about teaching kids to code

Other great features include:

  • Collaboration. You can invite other Trello members to join your lists and boards, making it an excellent tool for keeping remote teams up-to-date on projects and assigning tasks to team members. Edits others make appear in real-time, so there's no need to reload screens or worry about info gaps. You can also create a "Trello Organization" to collect all your people and boards in one place.
  • Mobile app. Trello is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows 8 Tablet. Your account automatically syncs among all devices, so you can use it on-the-go and always have the latest info at your fingertips.
  • Card functionality. Cards and lists are easy to copy, paste, and move around, for a fully customizable experience. Once you're done with a card you can choose to archive it. This keeps things tidy, but still lets you call up old cards if you need to review them for any reason.
  • Notifications. Email notifications let you know about activity or changes on a card.
  • Voting. If you want to get opinions about an idea, have team members use the card's vote feature.

While Trello has vastly streamlined our editorial process, there are many other ways it could be useful in your business or in your home life. In addition to creating collaborative to-do lists, you can use it for making meeting agendas and assigning action items, surveying team members on new ideas, keeping track of upcoming events and preparations, displaying project inspiration images, and a host of other activities. We encourage you to play around with it, or discover more ways people are using Trello at their website and blog.

Final insider tip: Even though Trello doesn't have a downloadable desktop app, if you're on a Mac you can use Fluid to turn it into a site specific browser. This essentially allows it to operate more like a native Mac desktop app, so you can open it directly from the dock.

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