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Trello Kanban Combo FTW

I have been having an organizational crisis for a few months now. It was more at work than in my personal organization. I have been using Trello for over a year now for personal to-do lists, which has kept me somewhat sane.

At work, I lead a small team of 4 and our work is very technical. We have been trying for a few months to use Trello, and had come up with an organization system that just was not working. Trello is so versatile, that its easy to have different organizational schemas topic-to-topic. We has a hodgepodge of setups and the bouncing back and forth was not working for my brain.

I researched a few methods of working with Trello and came across the KanBan method here in this post from Andrew Connell as well as a post from Doug Belshaw (who is offering a badge for this- you know I’m all about that!).

Its funny because “to do/doing/done” at the heart of Kanban is Trello’s default board organization, and I was already using this for my personal boards. It made total sense to use this for team project boards as well.

So I went into our Trello “Organization” (our shared boards) and revised all of our projects. I pulled each project into its own board (instead of all projects being in one board), which really helped.

Here is an example of one of the new project boards:

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 1.20.54 PM
We used the color labels for each team member, so we can quickly look at a visual idea of who is responsible for what.

Here is a snapshot of all of our “Org” project boards:

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 1.21.22 PM
The blue boards are ongoing services my team provides that involves smaller projects or tasks within them. The Green project boards are bigger developing projects that have clear end dates, at which point maintenance tasks would be moved into one of the blue “ongoing” boards.


I know the setup is successful for our team because we are finally ALL using it! Its a miracle really, as we have gone through waves of usage and confusion and finally all can grasp this organization.

One additional step borrows from the GTD “Getting Things Done” method. I printed this flowchart to have at my desk to help decide what action to take with incoming information– A sort of pre-screening reminder for action.


There are a few translations of “FTW” (one is NSFW) that I know of, that are complete opposites of each other. I guess you can say that I evolved from one version of “FTW” to another.


Update: Received Kanban 101 Badge! Will have to go for the advanced next…

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  1. Chris Lott Chris Lott

    A nice combination of separate methods and tools, each of which I’ve used but never together. This could be like chocolate and peanut butter! At the moment I’m back to simple structured todo lists + pomodoro and a few elements of GTD. But then I don’t deal with shared task and project management…

  2. Hi Sarah. Came across your blog while doing some research in using Kanban for Instructional Design projects so your post is very helpful. Are you guys still using it and do you have any suggestions/tips for someone who wants to start using this method ?

    • Thanks Kate!

      I would say that its pretty important to keep using it consistently. You may want to purposely set up some sort of dependency on it in order to work this into your normal routine for your group. I find when my group gets bogged down during a busy time, we tend to drift away from Trello tracking, and then we revisit once the air has cleared to reorganize. The only way I stay on it is to open it up every morning with my email and calendar. I also had to make myself stop reaching for a pen to take new project notes, and instead open the trello board.

      Mobile features are especially handy and all the drag and drop features work. I have it on my home page of my iphone.

      As far as ID projects, I have found it especially useful to track multiple ID work with SME’s (in our case- Faculty). If the some of the work is “Just in Time”, I can go find the card for that SME and look at the activity from the last ID that worked with them to catch myself up.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you come across anything specific you have questions about, or if you have any things that work well to share!

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