Using Trello as a priority desktop

Ah, the continued quest to find the perfect task management / email / to-do / etc. tool. It’s never-ending!

For the longest time now I’ve been very happy using email as my prime tool for managing to-do list and workload. Between email and my calendar, I’m able to be very efficient with my time.

The missing ingredient has been a way to keep track of the “big” things that are going on. For instance, right now I’m planning a trip out West and there are several people I want to see while I’m there. That’s not an easy thing to keep track of in email or my calendar. One might suggest Google Keep or Evernote for this, but I’ve tried them and they aren’t great at high-priority lists and projects, IMHO.

Trello is a tool that my team uses to keep track of our game progress. Many development shops use Trello as it is a great way to group activities and let the entire team see where progress is being made. Here is an example of a Trello board:


So for the last week, instead of having a few post-it notes on my desk at work and a list of “to-do’s” in a notebook, I’ve consolidated all of that into Trello. I have the following lists set up:

  • Pipeline (for my current business development opportunities)
  • General To-Do (list of things I want to get done, but aren’t urgent. Eventually they would move to the Mid or High Priority lists)
  • Mid Priority (items that need to get done but not in the next day or two. As time goes on, these items will either be completed or moved to High Priority)
  • High Priority (items that need to be given a lot of time over the next day or two)
  • West Coast Trip (this is where random “projects” would fall)
  • Done (where I move items when I complete them)

Trello has a terrific mobile app and I like the web UI a great deal. So far this process is working for me, although admittedly its only been a week. If this doesn’t work I’m pretty sure it will be because I have yet another tool to help me stay organized. The reason email and my calendar work so well is that I HAVE to constantly check those, so my tasks are top of mind. Moving some tasks out of email and into Trello means I must stay diligent about checking Trello on a daily basis. So far, so good.


  1. Del Ross on September 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve also tried several tools. Mostly unsatisfactory, so like you have resorted to email/calendar proxy solution. I’ll try this and report my own experience. Thanks!

  2. Del Ross on September 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    OK, so I signed up. From your description, I expected that this would pull in content from other sources, such as my calendar(s), email accounts, other message sources, to-do lists, etc. Instead it looks like YET ANOTHER THING I HAVE TO SET UP AND MAINTAIN. Not so helpful. What am I missing?

  3. Jeff Hilimire on September 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Yeah, its not a replacement for or connected to outside tools. It’s really a way to organize projects and tasks and share that within a team. I’m using it as a replacement for post-it notes on my desk, to-do list action item type stuff, etc. Helps me keep the things I’m working on top of mind and through to completion.

    As a tool, tons of people love it, especially the dev community. It remains to be seen if I’ll keep using after a few weeks for the purposes I described.

  4. Angela Terrell on September 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I’ve been using ToDoist, which is based on the Getting Things Done method. It’s okay. But you’ve inspired me to use Trello. As you know, I love Trello for all agile projects, so why not apply to my own workflow?? I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Jeff Hilimire on September 15, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Please let me know what you think about Trello as a to-do. After all, it was you that really opened my eyes to it.

    So its been almost two weeks and so far I’m still using it for my to-do. I’ve added a few new boards and I’m always looking at my high priority list, that’s where I spend most of my time.

  6. […] barely able to keep up with everything that I have going on. I use tools – like Evernote, Trello, and super-optimized email and calendar processes – to help me manage through my day […]

  7. […] myself barely able to keep up with everything that I have going on. I use tools – like Evernote, Trello, and super-optimized email and calendar processes – to help me manage through my day (both […]

Leave a Comment