Ah, yes – repeating tasks. Buy food every Saturday. Send invoices every month. Schedule a product review every week. Your weeks are most likely full of repeating tasks. You already use Trello to organise much of your life – can you also schedule repeating tasks in Trello? Read on to find out!
Wow, do I feel dumb.
For the last three years, I have been obediently logging into 750 Words every day to dump my head in there.
It has changed the way I deal with life, sparked ideas and significantly increased the speed I write at.
Best of all it has rewarded me with the type of happy discipline I craved all my life.
So why do you feel dumb?
I have spent more time than I am prepared to share here copying and pasting text into other apps and lists.
750 words is a place I make the most connections between people, projects and ideas.
I am sure I have spent HOURS dicking around with plugins to move words from one place to another.
So What Happened
Today without thinking I wrote some stuff and then pressed the Trello Google chrome browser extension and dropped an idea from 750 Words into the right Trello board.
Why have I not done that before?
I stood in our kitchen and gazed out at the rising sun while I scraped around the inside of my brain to see if I could find an answer as to why I’d been missing this obvious trick in my daily practice.
The Action Step
So I nipped over to Trello and made a 750 words column in my main Trello board.
As I carried on writing I added cards to this column that I could sort out later.
How does that help Bernie?
I was long ago scarred by this Buffer Blog on ‘Decision Fatigue’, the gist is we only a certain amount of energy to devote to make decisions every day.
By dicking around every day on where I am going to save the items I want to take action on I am draining that well of energy.
You sound a little bit too excited about this Bernie
Hands Up! I am over the moon about this. I have just started week seven of my “12 Week Year”, to which I have committed deeply.
Now it has got this far and I am killing it, and being killed I am ok with writing a bit more about it.
By paying attention every day to my routine I have started to notice the gaps in it.
The is my reward of doing the dumb thing of reading the same book every day for 12 weeks……
Are you interested in productivity? Then you might have come across a method called the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a great way to stay focused and work through a list of tasks. A popular way to use the Pomodoro Technique with Trello is the Pomello browser extension. We took a deep dive to see whether Trello + Pomello can help you get more accomplished.
The Pomodoro Technique
Before we get stuck in, it’s worth describing the Pomodoro Technique in more detail. Essentially you set a kitchen timer to 25 minutes. This 25-minute block is called ‘a Pomodoro’. Pick a task to work on, shut off all distractions and work through the task. When the timer rings, you re-surface and take a 5 minute break. After four Pomodoros, you take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes. That’s essentially it. For full details read the Get Started guide on the Pomodoro Technique website.
Sounds very simple – but does it work? The answer is a resounding YES! People report doubling their workload using the Pomodoro Technique. Bernie and I can vouch for it ourselves as well. There’s nothing quite like it when you need to put your head down and work through a list of tasks.
Pomello – Pomodoro Technique in Trello
An easy way to use the Pomodoro Technique with Trello is to install the Pomello Chrome web browser extension.
Here is the link: Pomello Chrome Web Store
Once installed, the extension lives on the Chrome ‘apps’ page. It’s a bit different in this way – other extensions often leave a little icon next to the address bar.
Launch the ‘apps’ page by going to this address: chrome://apps
Once the app is installed, you need to connect it to your Trello account. Click on the little green floating panel that comes up and hit ‘Connect’ when prompted.
Select the Trello boards
After logging in to Trello, you are asked to select which Trello boards Pomello should be active on. I normally just hook it up to my personal to-do list board – but you can attach it to more boards and make changes as you go along. Pick a single board while you get used to it and evolve as you get more experienced.
Select the Trello lists
Pomello will help you pick the next task to work on. This only works well if you narrow it down to a few lists. Pomello asks you to pick specific lists where you store your to-do items.
As an example: My personal to-do list board has list columns ‘Not doing now’, ‘Scheduled’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’. I only attach Pomello to the list ‘Scheduled’ because that stores tasks that need to be worked on.
There are two advanced settings that are worth tweaking. They are hidden underneath each Trello list that you activate Pomello on:
Add marker to card title
Log events in card comments
These two settings I would recommend turning off, especially on client-facing boards. With them turned on, Pomello will record information to the Trello card itself, which becomes viewable by the other Trello board members. Perhaps desirable but I found it gave too much insight into my personal working habits and cluttered up the card information.
Track productivity through Pomello
This is a good feature if you decide to sign up to a Pomello account
Here are the final settings that worked best for me:
Pomello in action
Once you’ve got everything set up, you can start using Pomello to run actual 25-minute Pomodoros. This part is really easy – Pomello’s floating panel shows you what options are available.
First, pick a task. Where do the tasks come from? From your Trello lists of course!
You’re ready – start work. The floating panel shows you the Pomello timer.
Now it’s time to focus for 25 minutes!
Once you’ve finished the task (or need to take a break), click on the timer to bring up the mini-menu:
Not too many options here:
- The ‘tick’ let’s you finish the task.
- The ‘cross’ cancels the timer completely.
- The ‘T’ text icon allows you to leave a note (type /? for a useful help page)
- The ‘||’ pause icon allows you to pause the Pomodoro.
- The ‘…’ dots close the mini menu.
Just try it a few times, you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Completing a task
The beauty of Pomello is that it integrates with your existing Trello workflow. When you’ve completed a card, you’re prompted to move it to another list on your Trello board. We often use the standard ‘To Do, Doing, Done’ setup in Trello and Pomello lets us move cards to Done very easily.
And finally, when the Pomodoro is up, it’s time to take a break:
The Pomodoro Technique is a brilliant way to increase your productivity. Using it all the time is likely to be a bit monotonous – but when you need to work your way rapidly through a list of tasks, it’s the best way to get things done.
Pomello is a bit time-consuming to install and setup. Once it’s up and running however, the interface is easy to use. The floating panel is unobtrusive and easily accessible whichever application you use. The Trello integration is great and easily works with our existing workflow. Definitely one to recommend and both Bernie and I have it installed and use it on a regular basis.
Update: The Pomello app is now also available for download as a standalone application. Useful if you don’t use the Chrome browser or prefer to use an app rather than a browser extension.
Note: The Pomodoro Technique and Pomodoro is a registered trademark of Francesco Cirillo.
Many people store numbers or points on their Trello cards. Uses vary, from Scrum story points to costs in a budget planner. Wouldn’t it be great if you could sum up all these values and show the list total at the top of the Trello list instead? It would mean you don’t need to keep a separate spreadsheet for basic calculations. Trello doesn’t offer list totals out of the box, so how could you make this work?
I have really got into tracking my time in the last few months.
It is out of frustration rather than amazingness needing to hand in time sheets.
I don’t like trading time for money, it is dumb in this day and age and even dumber if you are a freelancer or indie worker, but that is another blog.
If you are wondering about the David Bowie picture, well I love him and need to get a refinance in as often as I can! But read on there is some blogging gold coming up. I think.
I have been using Rescue Time app for well over five years now and it was a punch in the face how much time I spent on social media, especially Facebook.
I did not think I used Facebook that much, I was more of a twitter and Instagram kinda guy.
Facebook is a fucking wormhole, watch out! HOURS for what?
Also, I spent a lot of time on Amazon and Audible even when I don’t need to buy anything.
Hang On To Your Self
Rescue Time also highlighted where I was NOT spending time.
The best places for me to hang out on my computer are Rainmaker for my site and @Work Hubs, Trello, Google Apps and Mind Meister – mapping app.
This is where all my meaningful high-value work is done, what I really mean is this is the shit I can do that converts into cold hard cash.
So why would I hang out on Facebook?
It delivers short term reward for me, a lot of our family and friends live outside London and the UK so I can keep up with them.
Somewhere deep in a synaptic tendon next to a molecule of serotonin on its way to my medulla is a little voice saying “getting them to like your picture on Facebook is as good as a plane trip – isn’t it?
The frustration was knowing what I have to do, having the time to do and then suddenly waking up and not to have done it.
I am way past the point of putting it down to being dyslexic, depressed or laughing about being easily distracted.
I have all those things going on and coping systems in place to fend off and overcome that toxic and self-loathing behaviour.
Lacerate Your Brain
While I have no empirical evidence to hand I am certain that flicking through Facebook every day for a few hours crushes your head.
The combination of scrolling and never ending combined with shit news from shit news channels and people you know doing ever so slightly better than you is like pouring acid into our head. Well, my head anyway.
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
Productive Tension – helps me with the pain
I am now in my 3rd week of my first 12 Week Year. I have deeply deeply deeply committed to tracking what I do and don’t do and how these daily actions serve to transition me from a life I tolerate to one where #Babybernie, #Supercoolwife and I are thriving in the sunshine.
Instead of diving into deep depression (like I did this time last year) the 12 Week Year has quickly taught me to recognise this ‘doom’ as “Productive Tension” –
“One interesting thing that often happens around this time in the 12 Week Year, is what we call “Productive Tension.” Productive tension is the uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re not doing the things you know you need to do to reach your goals.
Productive Tension is exactly what you want to experience. It is the lead indicator of substantive change. If you eliminate bailing out as an option, then the discomfort of Productive Tension will eventually compel you to take action on your tactics. If turning back is not an option, then the only way to resolve the discomfort is to move forward by executing your plan.”
(Moran and Lennington 12 Week Year)
I have always suspected I am playing way smaller than I am capable of.
(Just don’t tell anyone I said that.)