How I use Trello to Stay Organized

The hardest thing to do when building a product in 14 days is staying organized. This is especially difficult when you lack organization skills, and suffer from product ADD. So to help me stay on task I’ve chosen Trello. Trello is an online “board” that simply allows you to drag and drop tasks into the columns you specify. I use it as a very simplified version of a Kanban board. Sure there’s hundreds of agile development tools that are more robust and feature rich: Pivotal Tracker, Assembla, Basecamp, just to name a few, but I’ve found that the simplicity of Trello is just enough to keep me on task while not distracting me with yet another tool.

How I use Trello:

I don’t do a whole lot of planning prior to coding. This is especially tough when you’ve given yourself a 14 day deadline. But luckily, over time, I’ve learned what components and parts are needed for building a sites. Trello is a great tool for planning sprints, but in this case (and in most cases) I only use it to remind myself of the priorities and help me remember where I left off. So here’s I how I have my Trello Board broken up.

Commit App Roadmap | Trello

My board is broken up into 4 lists. To Do, Doing, Done, Bugs.

  • To do – Includes the cards that I haven’t done yet. They’re normally sorted in priority order with the highest priority cards at the top.
  • Doing – Includes the card that I’m currently working. You can only work on one task at a time so, in my case there’s only one card in my todo list as any given time. I sometimes switch between tasks before they’re completed, but I’m never working on two or more task at the same time, so what I try to do is is use Trello’s labeling feature to color cards (usually yellow) that I’m currently working on but haven’t yet completed.
  • Done – Includes the cards that have been completed.
  • Bugs – Includes that cards of bugs found.

Seasoned developers are probably asking where’s your QA/Testing column? To which I would say, shut up and mind your business (just kindling). I’m continually testing as I develop, but as one person / one resource development arm you have to do your best to be as thorough as possible, and be nimble enough to quickly respond and fix bugs as the sprout up. Thus the bug column.

How I create cards:

Some development shops spend days sometime weeks, planning. This time is usually spent building user stories or use cases with acceptance criterion, wire frames based on these user stories, visual designs based on the wireframes and then tasks based on everything. But like I mentioned before, “ain’t nobody got time for that”. So what I do is the abridge version. I jump right into creating a list of task and prioritizing them. This usually takes about 30 – 40 minutes depending on the complexity of the of the project, and the process usually looks like me with a Latte and my feet on my desk asking myself what are the most important features needed for launch? Once I have the key features in mind, I create the supporting cards. My cards are usually structure just like my controllers and look a little like this.

Card Examples:

CRUD Members:

Attributes

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last name
  • Password
  • Rights

CRUD Organization

Attributes

  • Organization Name
  • EIN
  • Subdomain

*CRUD = Create, Read (View), Update, and Delete
*Attributes = the fields I need to capture.

I told you my cards were really broad but this helps me keep my focus on the feature and not on the task. It also helps me from spending too much time moving cards around in Trello.

Hope this was helpful. Feel free to share your thoughts and how you plan.

 


 

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