How to Build a Foolproof System in Trello

Trello is having a serious moment here. And there is a damn good reason why. The ways to set up Trello to work for you is endless. But let’s be honest too. Sometimes unlimited possibilities aren’t what we need. As human people, we tend to flourish within boundaries. And everywhere you turn, you see swipe boards (guilty!), how tos, and courses for sale. And while these resources are amazing for inspiration, there isn’t a system in existence that is going to be exactly what you need at every turn.

Whether you are new to Trello or have been at this for a while, there is something really empowering about being able to create a system that you need for whatever you need it for, especially in a software like Trello. Let’s dive in.

Trello is having a serious moment here. And there is a damn good reason why. The ways to set up Trello to work for you is endless. But let’s be honest too. Sometimes unlimited possibilities aren’t what we need. As human people, we tend to flourish within boundaries. And everywhere you turn, you see swipe boards (guilty!), how tos, and courses for sale. And while these resources are amazing for inspiration, there isn’t a system in existence that is going to be exactly what you need at every turn.

What Trello Is

For those of you new to the game, Trello is an online project management system that is customizable suited for everyone, from folks flying solo to teams. Basically, it’s a hub for your business. It’s awesome because it’s like digital post its on a board and has a forever free option. What!? Who doesn’t love the sound of that?

One of the best parts about Trello is that there are so many ways to accomplish something. It really does have the perfect layout for folks with a more creative mind (can also be read organizing hot messes everywhere, including this one.)

Organizing hot messes everywhere

A Quick Overview of Trello Parts

For the most basic of systems, you only need to know about four parts of Trello. If you think of Trello like nesting baskets, it all starts to make a whole lot more sense when you apply it to your systems.

Boards: This is where everything lives. The board is a container to set up other nitty gritty parts in Trello. To these boards, you can apply what they call power ups. For the free plan, you can use one power up per board, but have different power ups on different boards. Got that?

Lists: The next basket size down. This is where cards live and work great for sorting the information or laying out a pipeline. A perfect example of this the the basic “Ideas, to do, done” lists.

Cards: Smaller still, cards are the small and mighty portion of Trello. Each card can contain a TON of information from attachments and links to formatted descriptions, comments, checklists, and have nifty features like labels, due dates, and the option to add members.

Checklists: The nitty grittiest of the nitty gritty. These house the actual to dos, the actual steps, the pieces that make your business go round. Used in cards, checklists are more than just a place for to dos. They are versatile tools, which can be used to sort your content buckets, outline steps of a workflow, or even keep track of calls you need to schedule or emails to answer.

The Anatomy of a System in Trello (And Everywhere Else)

The Foundation

This is where it all begins. When you’re creating any system, you have to start with some basic questions that need to be answered.

  1. What problem are you currently facing that you think a system will help and/or fix?

  2. How is this system going to be built (softwares, programs, planners etc.)?

  3. How long are you going to give this system to prove itself?

When asking and answering these questions, be sure to be honest. If you know that you want to see a return on your invested time or money or anything within a month, then be real about that and give it that full month. By asking these questions, you’re starting to get clear on what you need to do to create the system to begin with and also how it is going to actually solve your problem.

If you know that you want to see a return on your invested time or money or anything within a month, then be real about that and give it that full month.

The Set Up

Because the focus of this is Trello, I’m going to walk you through the actual setup.

  1. Before going digital, map out what your system should look like in good old fashioned paper format. You can do this with simple lines and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just remember the nesting basket aspect of Trello. Start with large pieces and break them down and down.

  2. Next, you’re going to make your board in Trello. From your home screen in Trello, you can create a new board or from the dropdown menu for boards on any board.

  3. You should have a brand spankin new board, with one list that is just dying to be joined by more. So from here, start entering your piece from your map. You can do this by typing, hitting enter and watching Trello make you a new list.

  4. Now it’s time for cards. See how helpful the map you made is? Now you get to enter those all by hand and type everything up. Just kidding! By making a list on separate lines of a Word or Google doc, you can copy, create ONE new card, and paste. This will then pop up the box of questions and ask if you want to make a card for every item or if you just want one. You want multiple if you’re pasting from a list.

  5. That awesome thing you did with the cards? Yeah, you can do that with checklists too. Awesome right? It gives you the option to create a checklist is the right hand sidebar and you can name it whatever you please. In fact, you can even copy one from another card when you get to that point.

The Cards

I know, I know. You just got the how to. But cards are a powerful, powerful part of Trello simply because of the information they can store. For example, cards in my editorial calendar on Trello all contain a title, a due date, a label, SEO information in the description, my draft and outline doc, and checklists named To Do, SEO, Format, and promotion. That’s a lot for one little card! But by grouping relevant information together, you’re avoiding clutter or worse, something that slips through the cracks!

Why This Works

Taking the time to plot out your next system will drastically change the effectiveness and the longevity of it. And remember, the best systems tend to be the most simple.

One more thing before you go. If you’re looking to sign up to Trello for the first time, you can click here and sign up for free. This is an affiliate link, which means I get a perk for you signing up from it but nothing is different for you.