Looking for a free and versatile way to prioritize and track administrative tasks? Trello is a terrific tool for both shared and individual task lists. It’s web-based and has strong IOS and Android apps for accessing and editing on the go. You can use it for your own to-do list or expand to include your team.

The Trello architecture includes Boards, Lists and Tasks. Before you take the Trello Tour, here’s your quick ArtsHacker intro.

Boards

Trello boards
In our office, each of us has a Board that contains all of the items on our individual to-do list at any time. In addition, there’s a shared Board that contains looming tasks that haven’t yet been assigned. Using a paper analog, a board is like a notebook. Each Board contains customized lists.

Lists

A board can have a seemingly infinite number of lists, but you may want to limit your lists to a number that can be easily seen and grasped on your computer screen. (Got more lists? Make another board.)

My lists are broken down by project: I have one for each upcoming production or concert, and one for each general area of operations (Box Office, Marketing, Development, Staff, Artists, Auditions, etc). The example below shows lists that are organized by level of urgency. A list is simply a way of organizing your to-do items, which are called Cards.

Lists

Cards

Within each vertical list, there are individual Cards. These are your action items.

You can assign them dates and see them in Calendar view (a fairly recent addition to Trello, and the one that means the most to me.) Or you can stay in list view and drag cards up and down in the list (or between lists!) to prioritize.

You can flag them with self-assigned colors for whatever your heart desires. Some people prefer to create lists that reflect time horizons and use the flags to reflect the project to which they belong. On a board that I share with a software designer, he flags items by how long he estimates they’ll take to accomplish (Green=under an hour, Yellow=multiple hours, Red=a day or more.) That way, when I prioritize requests, I’m not being unrealistic.

Each Card can house a checklist, a comments/description field, and you can track progress made.

Task History as a Reference Tool

When you finish with an item, you can archive it. Besides being fabulously satisfied by watching the item disappear (anyone who loves lists understands this…), you can view your archive at any time to retrieve an item, revive it, or just remind yourself what happened. 🙂 Since our office runs on a clear annual cycle, each quarter I visit my archived items for the same time period in the previous year in order to make sure nothing falls between the cracks.

Intrigued? Go to trello.com, create an account and play around with it.

I’ll follow up on this post with a description of the ways Trello can work across your whole team.

About Kim Pensinger Witman

As the Wolf Trap Foundation’s Senior Director of Opera & Classical Programming, Kim Pensinger Witman has the privilege of running a small but prestigious opera company that is also a young artist development program. She started her career as a freelance pianist, adjunct university instructor, assistant conductor, registered music therapist, and music administrator. Since 1997, she has run Wolf Trap Opera and overseen the division of the Wolf Trap Foundation that presents orchestral and chamber music concerts. Kim has produced over 60 operas, ranging from undiscovered baroque gems to world premieres. Under her direction, the WTO earned a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Opera Recording, for a live performance of Musto’s Volpone. For over 20 years, she has traveled the country, identifying the brightest talent for Wolf Trap Opera, hearing over 10,000 audi tions in the process. She is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served as a panelist with OPERA America, the National Opera Association, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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4 thoughts on “Tracking To-Do’s With Trello

  1. Trello is great for project management with people who don’t share a physical location. I’m planning a concert program with another musician who lives halfway across the country from me. We have a Trello list with cards of everything that needs to happen start to finish, from initial planning to rehearsals, to post concert follow up, and the cards can be assigned a person and a due date.

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