Remote Project Management: Easy Task Tracking in Trello

 

Well, it looks a bit different around here doesn’t it?

The holiday break from my 9-5 day job gave me the opportunity to work 9-5 (or 5-9 when I felt like it) on Indie Bits. I got that massive step by step guide to self publishing up and had a chance to research and experiment with ways to develop the site.

I’ll need to:

  • Build scalability into the core framework for the site
  • Keep Track of ideas as they move from idea to test to implementation

As I’m working on the core framework I’m generating ideas for the next stage of development and the best way to do it.

Now I’m back at my day job though and holidays are over. I’m back to developing “outside of work hours” – but my ideas don’t happen outside of hours.

My ideas happen on the walk to work. They happen when I’m answering a question.

They happen everywhere but “outside of work hours”!

If I come up with a solution or the best way to breakdown the steps of a task I want to be able to capture it right away. Especially when I’m managing projects across two companies!

 

Tools I tried (and why I didn’t select them)

Sticky Notes is great, I love the simplicity. But its local to one machine. That doesn’t help me when I do most of my work remotely between three machines (Laptop, PC and iPad).

Toodledo gave me cross platform but required an extra step to sync (and a frequently buggy sync was the deal breaker).

Got the closest to perfection with Google Calender + Google Tasks:

  • Ability to create Task “blocks” to move around the calendar for quick scheduling
  • Create multiple Task lists and drag and drop within lists to quickly change priority)

So what was the problem?

  1. Can’t drag items between Tasks and Calendar!
  2. Ended up having to create tasks twice when scheduling
  3. Can’t easily drag tasks between Calendar months
  4. Can’t easily see or share tasks between different Calendars

Kept coming back to Sticky Notes but I still had the problem of not being able to easily work between lists on my different machines.

 

The solution had to be:

  • Flexible and easy as Sticky Notes
  • Let me capture ideas when I have them, wherever I them
  • Make it easy to update and adjust tasks on whatever machine I happen to be using that day

 

Out of the Blue Came Trello

Stumbled across an article for it while looking for Kanban tools. Works exactly like an online Sticky Notes, only with WAY more awesome!

How much more awesome?

Degrees of awesome:

  1. Tasks can be subdivided into checklists (ex: ‘putting toothpaste on the toothbrush’ is step 1 of 4 in Brushing My Teeth)
  2. I can drag tasks between lists
  3. I can have as many lists on a board as I want
  4. I can add contributors to my board
  5. We can leave comments for each other on tasks
  6. I can share my board with you
  7. We can each sign in with a Google account (small thing I know, but one less account and one less password to manage)
  8. You can Vote for the proposed ideas you want to see selected for testing and implementation 8)

Now, Trello isn’t perfect. It isn’t as fully featured or stable as Kanban Tool and it is prone to occasional bugs (the only time I haven’t been able to load it is right now – as I write this post – which I find hilarious).

But it is free. And when you’re an indie on a budget Free is Good.

After you’ve had a change to look at my board (or even BEFORE you look at the board – I’m all about the non-linear experience)  propose an idea for the site in the comments! I’ll add it to the list, you can vote for the ideas you like best and Indie Bits gets more awesome for everyone 8)

 

About Epona

Epona Schweer wants to figure out what "switches on" creativity in people. Researching, experimenting and sharing results here. Writing books, making games and coaching folks all over the interwebs. Shoot me an email, follow me on twitter (@EponaSchweer) or drop me a comment and say "Hi"!

Comments

  1. I’ve tried plenty of times using a manager of that sort. The only time it ever worked was at work with a sheet of paper and a list of goals I wanted to accomplish that day.

    Jeff atwood posted a great rant about todo lists on his blog, coding horror.
    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/10/todont.html

    Looks like you havnt kept up with Trello, last activity was on 11th of may =\

    • Hah, yes. Went down a couple times and I ended up using a spreadsheet instead – and I just stuck with that!

      Now:

      Notebook for scribbling thoughts and working out ideas during the day.
      Log actions in spreadsheet at the end of the day
      Go through logged actions at the end of the week to capture emerging Awesome Stuff

      I work more like a detective than a project manager now – just gathering as much information and pulling it together as I can, try and spot the clues and the connections and then follow those to more new interesting stuff.

      Reason I don’t do the whole project planning milestone shtick anymore:

      A) if I have a REAL deadline (like a competition or a grant deadline) then I’ll fill the time I have and won’t get any more time anyways

      B) Murphy’s Law. No matter how smart I am or how tight my plans are – LIFE happens.

      So, every day and every week I’m “switched on” and make sure that I’m improving every single day towards a deadline that I can’t change (even if I wanted to).

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