Saturday, 22 April 2017

Trello for Students

Trello is a very well known tool that lets you organise todo lists and projects into visual boards. With flexible features, Trello is a powerful app that allows you to organise many aspects of your life, including personal and education aspects. It also integrates with many other services such as Evernote and GitHub, and has collaborative features that allows you to work with other people on a large group project. I’ll outline how to use Trello for managing schoolwork in this post.

Trello allows you to organise projects using Boards. Think of a Board as a separate Todoist (or whatever todo app you may use) account, with lots of lists inside. Each Boards in Trello allows you to create lists inside, and these lists have cards. The cards are where the action really takes place - you can attach files to each card, as well as adding labels, task lists, commenting and many other features. The amount of layers Trello offers means that you have a lot of flexibility in what you want the app to do and use, and it’s because of this that the app has so many possible uses.

I’ll go over how to use Trello to plan homework, but note this is only one way to do it, and only one use of Trello - there are many, many more - so make sure to experiment around with it.

I’ll refer to ‘cards’ as ‘tasks’ in this section, as that is basically what they will be.

There are lots of ways to manage homework inside of Trello, but in my experience the easiest way is to create one ‘master board’ for homework. The first thing on my board is the ‘Inbox’ list, where I can quickly add cards. Then I have ‘Today’, then ‘Next’, ‘This Week’, and then ‘Someday’. My last list is ‘Completed’.

‘Inbox’ is the list that cards are placed in first, and is a place where you place cards quickly, when you don’t have time to place them in a certain area.

The ‘Today’ list is where you place homework cards that you want to complete today. Tasks that are due the next day, you forgot to do and are due in today, or tasks that you want to get over with are placed in here.

The ‘Next’ list is where all the tasks that you want to complete after you have completed the necessary tasks in the ‘Today’ board go. Once you clear out the tasks in ‘Today’, you move tasks from ‘Next’ over to ‘Today’, and then get going with those tasks.

‘This Week’ is for tasks that you want to complete this week, as they are due soon in the future, or they are quite big and you want to get them over with.

‘Someday’ is a list that you put all the tasks that don’t fit in the three previous lists into. For example, if you have a piece of work that is due in in a while, and you don’t want to do it soon, it goes into ‘Someday’.

Finally, ‘Completed’ is where all the tasks you have completed go into. Use the archive all feature to archive these at the end of each week so the list doesn’t get messed up.

Now lets get onto the card creation, so when you create a task. The card title is the name of the task, and when you click on the card it opens up. Here, you can add attachments, use markdown in the description section to expand on what you do, and many other things. There are a few areas that I want to go into a little more detail in this view - the due date, attachments, labels, and checklists.

The usefulness of due dates is self explanatory - just set them when the homework is due, and then you can scan down the cards and see when you want to hand them in, and use the calendar power up to see when the next tasks are due (more on this later). Attachments allow you to add images, scans, word documents, PDFs and any other file type to the card. I find this pretty useful as I may take a scan of the set work, and then simply attach it to the card.

Labels can come in pretty handy if you are still in secondary school, or if you take lots of modules or subjects. I find them pretty useful as I can label a card with what subject it’s on. You may want to do this too, as then you can filter down the cards to specific subjects. It’s pretty easy to do - just create a label per subject.

Finally, checklists are very powerful tools that allow you to add subtasks to the card itself. One of my favourite things about this feature is that the checklist status show up when you are viewing the lists, so you can see the status of your checklist progress. Another favourite feature of these checklists is the percentage complete bar which shows above the cards, and this is a visual way to see the progress of the cards.

Another great feature is the calendar power up. This allows you to view all your tasks, and see what one is due next and what you need to do. I find it pretty useful to use as I can see what tasks I need to move where.

That’s about it for the homework board. When you get a piece of homework, quickly add it to the Inbox list with details about the work or a scan. Then when you get home, add the labels and organise a little.

If you use the Pomodoro technique, you may want to check out Pomello, which integrates with Trello so you can use the Pomodoro Technique. It’s very good, and you can check it out here.

Another good use of Trello is to plan essays. You can find a template for essay planning here. It enables you to plan drafts, either by yourself or with others, and is very useful.

Trello is a great student tool, and I suggest you go check it out. It has tons of uses, from homework managing to revising with flashcards. Trello has advanced integrations which allow you to plug it into and work with other apps, and it’s very flexible - and it’s free! It is available as a web app and also for iOS and Android.

You can sign up to Trello here.

Thanks for reading!

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