Tools We Love: 4 Trello Features That Simplify My Life, and Maybe Yours Too

Posted by on July 29, 2016

Tools We Love_Trello_Marketwave_Bana_Jobe

It sounds like an exaggeration, but au contraire: Trello has changed my life.

The productivity tool has helped our team rethink the way we manage projects, and we’ve used its basic (free) version for everything from content writing to thought leadership and media relations. You could say we’re fans, and not just because it satisfies the Type A tendencies of a marketer. Trello really has changed the way we approach collaboration, ideation and execution—but even more than that, it simplifies daunting tasks into doable things.

The reasons why are as many as the features Trello provides, of which these are my favorites:

1. Email-to-board.

This feature single-handedly makes Trello work for our team. For the longest time, we had two main channels of project communication: over email and over whatever tool we were using at the time. We usually exchanged notes on one or the other, but there was little integration between the two. And if we needed to pull a client’s comments from, say, two weeks ago, we had to search in Outlook with random keywords.

Trello fused both channels into one experience that helps us maintain email communication while documenting it into one easy-to-follow log. I won’t go into detail about how to use it (Trello’s email-to-board guide does that) but the gist is that each Trello card—or task, you could say—comes with a unique email address that you can send or forward notes, documents, audio files, presentations or images to directly. Trello stores all those things to the card, which keeps everything tidily in one place—especially the body copy of the emails, which are added to the card in real-time as a scrolling log.

Trello Tips_Email-to-Board

It became life-changing when we created Outlook contacts for each Trello card using easy-to-remember names, like: “CLIENT NAME: PROJECT NAME”. So if I’m working on a media relations project for a new product release, and a reporter responds with questions, I can forward that email (and all other emails/pitches/messages/images/press releases, for that matter) to the card and have that documentation in one place when I need it in the future. The best part? No Outlook search needed.

In the image below, the bold line is the email’s subject line, which populates automatically when you send an email to the card.

Trello Tips_Email-to-Board II

2. Tagging.

I’m very intentional about keeping my inbox clean and orderly, which is why I love this feature. In the year since I started using Trello, I’ve substantially cut down on emails, because most everything I send (internally, at least) goes through the tool. Like with any other social channel, I can mention (@NAME) someone to notify them over email, the mobile app or within the Trello platform itself—and all correspondence stays in one central place.

Trello Tips_Tagging

3. Checklists.

By itself, this is no extraordinary thing. What tool doesn’t have a checklist that looks like Trello’s?

Trello Tips_Checklists

But what I love about the tool is that it enables templates of checklists, which makes for better workflow. For us, this comes in handy when we do projects that follow a set process every time. I create a “template” card with the different checklist templates (“new product launch,” or “byline contribution,” for example) and can then copy those checklists when needed for other cards.

Trello Tips_Checklists II

4. Archived Cards.

Projects don’t really end when they “end.” They’re always revived in some way, whether through inspiration or a more tactical “how did we solve that issue last time?” approach. By archiving cards, you can preserve a project’s history (of emails, questions, concerns, attachments, notes, etc.) while tucking it safely out of sight. And if you ever need to refer back to an old Trello card, it’s—like everything else—pretty simple:

Trello Tips_Archived Cards

And sure, Trello’s not the only productivity tool out there—not by a long shot. Sites like Slack and Basecamp have their merits. But by cutting emails, organizing project logs and keeping things simple, it works for my needs and honestly, has made things a thousand times easier.

How about you?

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