Using Trello for Project Management as a Writer

As I’ve noted before this year is filled with overlapping, non-linear projects and quite a bit of travel. Getting it all done will be challenging. Remembering every task that needs to be done is even more so.

I discussed using Trello as my project management tool in December. I’m now about halfway through January and I’m quite pleased with it. Here’s how I’m using it:

Steve and I set our goals for the year using a system we’ve used for years. We divide our goals into categories: Professional, Learning, Travel/Conferences, Health/Fitness, Friends, Financial, Home, Fun, and Intimacy. (Some years we add a category titled Spirituality.) This is the main place we track our goals. We try to assess our progress on a quarterly basis.

goals

Every year there are things that we don’t succeed at. We’re ok with that. We strive for an 80 percent success rate on our goals and we put some goals in that are purely aspirational. (For example, it is unlikely that I will learn French in 2020, but if I could, wow!).

If we accomplish less than 80 percent of our non-aspirational goals when we do our retrospective, we ask questions of ourselves. (Were the goals too hard? Did we fail to anticipate a problem we could have? Were we lazy? Wildly optimistic? Was there a disaster this year? etc.)

Up until this year, that one board has been enough because the lower level tasks to meet my professional goals were handled other ways when I worked at FedEx. Last year and the previous year as a writer didn’t require intense project management. But once we entered the Year of Publication, everything changed. I don’t have just a few balls in the air. Now it’s like walking through a fusillade of round shot.

One of the nice things about Trello is that it has sample boards you can take on, modify, and use. I searched for a good project management template and found this one devoted to Agile processes, which seemed to mesh with what I needed to do and how I wanted to work. I cleaned it up and began using it with very little revision. It’s a blessing. I’m using it to track the multitude of projects and tasks.

rolling task list

For things that I want to do daily, like this blog, I’ve set up monthly cards with each day of the month as a checklist.

blog post card

We have a separate Trello board with anticipated expenses associated with our writing, including tech, educational expenses, conferences, cost of editing, covers, and so forth.

This is all prospective and we hope we are estimating on the high side. We prefer to be surprised with lower costs than higher. I know that I can get covers more cheaply or make my own and that editing costs vary wildly but the numbers I’ve used here seem rational from my research. In fact, just about everything on the list from travel to purchasing can be done more cheaply and we’ll look for deals as we go.

I expect that we’ve made mistakes somewhere along the line. Also note that this includes items that are pure wishlist items. We like to have them in front of us so that was can compare costs with other items that might be more critical. It keeps us from overspending.

costs

My father, an accountant, used to say that the number two problem for small businesses was under-capitalization. (The number one problem was failing to keep good financial records.)

We’ve tried our best to anticipate and save for writing education and publishing. We hope we are not under-capitalized. But the only way to know for sure is to move forward anticipating costs and keeping good records. We expect this year to be a year in which the writing business will not be able to pay for its own expenses. So we are carrying it with our own capital. Eventually that needs to turn around.

That’s how I’m using Trello for project management. I’m also using it to develop book and series ideas and to do world-building, but that’s a topic for another time.

I hope you have a management method that fits your life. If you have discovered something great, please let me know.

Be well, friends!

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