Productivity Tips from Dr. Melissa Gratias
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Trello: A Great Way to Manage Ideas, Tasks, Projects, and More

By Melissa Gratias, Ph.D. 

If you have ever worked with me, you likely know that I have a love match with Outlook Tasks. I rely on it for my survival much like Rose did with that chunk of door from the sinking Titanic. Too bad for Jack, though.

Don’t tell Outlook Tasks, but I’m seeing someone else on the side…Trello.

Trello is a browser-based tool that helps people and teams manage action items, collate project information, and communicate progress.

Trello will never replace Outlook Tasks in my mind and heart, but I like to take Trello out on the town to fulfill specific…needs.


An Introduction to Trello

Owned by a parent company called Atlassian, Trello has been available since 2014. Users can register for a free limited-feature account at


Here is a dictionary of Trello jargon:

  • Card – An individual action item/task/to-do. Cards are organized into…
  • Lists – Columns of Cards that allow you to organize your actions by person, function, whatever. Lists are gathered onto a…
  • Board – Picture a large whiteboard on your wall. A Board contains your Lists. Teams will typically have one Board per project.
  • Workspace – A group of Boards that are accessible to a designated group of people.


Below is a video I recorded for the Greater Savannah Black Chamber of Commerce. It is an eight-minute Trello tutorial. If you are a visual learner like me, it is helpful to see Trello in action.



If you work for an organization who blocks YouTube as a misguided productivity improvement measure, here is a screen shot of a Trello Board.

I like to have fun with the Board backgrounds, but you can just choose a soothing, solid color if you wish.


Here are some fun uses for Trello.


Use Trello for brainstorming.

In a recent strategic planning session with a law firm, I had the participants brainstorm on a Trello Board. Each participant had their own List, and in 10 minutes of silent brainstorming (I had introverts in the room), the Board was filled with ideas to review, rearrange, and evaluate.

Toward the end of the session, we assigned accountable parties and deadline dates. Then, the team was ready to implement!


Use Trello to spice up a Zoom meeting.

A pre-populated Trello board with Cards containing images, links, and checklists is a fun alternative to PowerPoint. As I have said in a prior post, if your Zoom meetings are boring, don’t blame Zoom.


Use Trello for your someday/maybe list.

You can probably guess what a someday/maybe list is, but here is an overview. If you have a potential future project that is swirling around in your head, give it life by making it into a List or Card on your someday/maybe Trello Board.


Use Trello in lieu of emails for phone messages.

Some executives and lawyers have wonderful people who answer their phone calls and take messages. When those messages are sent as emails, they can get buried in the morass of the inbox.

Think about a Trello Board with lists for clients, colleagues, and/or bosses. Use one message per Card, assign a date, and easily track the game of phone tag. Consider how this could revolutionize how you handle your voicemail


Don’t worry, Outlook Tasks, you’re still the one.

Because of the ability to drag-and-drop emails onto my Outlook Tasks list, I will not use Trello as my centralized task management tool.

However, Trello allows you to create a unique email address for each Board. Once you set up that address, you can forward emails to the Board, and they become Cards. Neat, but not as elegant as the old drag-n-drop.

I also love how Outlook Tasks for PC lists my Tasks below my calendar days (in the week or work week views only). It allows me to see my appointments for the day as well as my Tasks for the day in one place. Sublime!

Trello has a “Calendar Power-Up” feature that will put your cards on a calendar page if they have due dates assigned to them. The free Trello account allows you to choose one of their many power-ups, and this is the one I recommend.


Last words on Trello…

Yes, there is a Trello app. You can download it to your phone or tablet and take Trello with you.

Yes, Trello lives in the cloud. Don’t save sensitive information to it. Make sure you are not violating your organization’s policies on information security.

Yes, Trello is great, but it will not perform the tasks for you. A car is only as good as its driver. It is important to have a centralized task management tool, but you must manage and update the thing every darn day.

Yes, Trello may be my love-ah, but Outlook’s my bae.


The post Trello: A Great Way to Manage Ideas, Tasks, Projects, and More appeared first on Melissa Gratias.

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