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How Trello Makes Me A Better Writer

Trello for Project Management

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Trello is an Atlassian product that works like a Kanban board. It’s a list-making app where you can create separate lists or swim lanes and organize plans, content, projects, etc. I’ve been in the market for a project management system for a long time, for a number of reasons:

  1. I write weekly blog posts.
  2. I’m submitting and writing short stories and poems.
  3. I am working on multiple novels.
  4. I end up working on all of these things at the same time.

As I am sure you can all imagine, it’s a lot to keep up with. Unfortunately, because there is so much, inevitably, I drop the ball. A recent example is a short story I have been shopping around. I have recently sent out eight different short pieces to eight different publications. I ended up forgetting that I had already submitted another piece to the same publication (insert internal screaming here).

Fortunately, the publication was super gracious and allowed me to shamefully retract the new short story from the running. However, the next time it happens, it might not be as pleasant. Getting published is hard enough as it is without making silly mistakes like that. As a result, I tried some free and paid project management systems and ultimately decided on Trello. As a writer, let me tell you why:

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The ability to visually separate projects

If you’re like me and end up working on multiple projects at once, it can be hard to compartmentalize everything in your mind. With Trello, you can create multiple boards to keep all of your projects separate. For example, I have a:

Novel Projects Board

Where I keep track of all my novel projects. As you can see in my example, I created a swim lane for each “status” my project might fall in at any point. Within the swim lanes, I create what Trello calls a “card.” I create a card for each of my projects, which I can then drag from swim lane to swim lane to show where I am in the process of publication.

Short Stories and Poems Board

Similar to the Novel Projects board, I have a swim lane per status. As I go through each phase with each short story and poem, I move it back and forth through the swim lane until it is published. Something else you may note is the use of labels. Within a board, you can designate specific colored labels to further label your cards. I use these in all of my boards, but in this particular board, I use them a lot more for filtering.

Blog Post Board

Just as the name suggests, this particular board is for prepping all of my blog posts for publication. This particular board is much more labor-intensive, so the swim lane statuses are much more important than anything else. As you can see by my example, I can quickly look and see that I need to get my act together.

All of my boards allow me to quickly see how far along I am on any project. Being able to create separate boards helps keep all of my projects separate and makes for a happy brain.

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Organizing and filtering using labels

As you can see in my Short Stories and Poems board, there are a ton of colorful labels on each card. The swim lanes already provide a great way to organize all your tasks, but the labels add another layer. I use them to help distinguish between poems and short stories, if something is in progress or paused, if something is a simultaneous submission, etc. It helps me keep the swim lanes clear and simple, but still allow for granular organization within the tasks/cards themselves.

I can take detailed notes within the cards

One of the problems with trying to mentally manage multiple projects is that I inevitably forget minor details. For example, which of my thirty drafts did I send to the last publication? What publications have I submitted to already? Did I finish editing that blog post? Have I fixed that plot hole in my novel? You get the idea.

I have a card per post, short work, or novel. I use that card for all my note-taking throughout the life span of those pieces. Thus, I end up with a detailed history of that piece. If ever I have a question on what happened to any one project, I can easily click into the card and take a look. That function has been a life-saver.

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It helps keep me motivated and productive

Having something that I can move around and check off tasks has been immensely helpful for my writing. I have never been so productive. Often times, I’d get a rejection letter for a short story or poem, then not touch it again for months. There have also been times where I can’t remember where I submitted something and if I ever heard back. This tool has kept me on top of all of that and makes me want to move things down the swim lanes. It puts all of my projects into perspective.

Finally, it turns my writing into a process

For example, with blog posts, I would write a little bit, then spend hours adding images, then write some more, then swap out images, write some more, then publish before realizing I had forgotten to work on my SEO. Needless to say, the process I had been using was not working. Now, though, with Trello, I have mapped out the steps I need to take before I can publish a post.

Similarly with my creative writing, I can keep track of where any of my shorter pieces are at any point in time. I am not partially writing something, editing the partial draft, and slowing down the writing of the initial draft anymore. Trello helps me hone in on what needs to be done and when.

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All-in-all Trello has changed my game when it comes to writing and project management. Plus, it’s free, so I encourage anyone to give it a shot, even if you don’t necessarily use it for writing management. Regardless, thank you so much for reading. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, comment below, and let me know.

Lissy

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