Tag Archives: organization

Trello Free Organization Tool - Easy to Use

My favorite free software this year. Trello lets you organize anything.

I really enjoy sharing useful services with people I know. If you are follow me on Twitter or know me in person, I have likely shared a few of them with you. But rarely do I find an service/application/product that I really think could be useful to every single person I know. Trello fits that.

There are hundreds of to-do list applications available. They run all the way from one basic list with checkmarks to the enterprise project management software. I have tried many of them. Trello is so simple, easy and initiative, that it is worth it to try for 15 minutes or so, to see if it is right for you.

What is Trello?

It is all about the cards.

A card is any text you want to add. I like to think of it as whatever you would write on a notecard. If you have never used notecards, then think of it as a note. It could be one word, a sentence or a paragraph. You can make as many cards as you want.

Then you organize them in lists.

Lists are just columns were you can sorts your cards. You can label lists anything you want and then drag and drop cards and reorder them in lists. The default Trello lists are To Do, Doing and Done, but you can change the names and quantity on any…

Boards

Boards are much like Pinterest boards. They are where your lists and notes live. You can have a broad board labeled “Ideas”. Or a very specific one like “What I want to accomplish on Saturday”. Your lists and the included cards can be reorder on your board however you like.

That is the basic of Trello and on its own has many uses. But. . .

Trello lets you go beyond that by “writing” on the back of the cards.

Like a traditional note card there is a back to Trello cards. Just click any card to access it. It includes a comment section and description that you can use like a traditional notecard. So if you are studying for a test, you can put the answer or definition on the back of the card and access it just by clicking on the card.

On a traditional note card that is pretty much the limits on what you can do, but with Trello you can:

  • Add attachments (videos, Word docs, PDFs and more)
  • Add color labels
  • And collaborate by giving others access to boards, thus…
    • Have conversations
    • Assign tasks
    • Vote for favorite cards

Examples of my own Trello use.

Organize and track the progression of blog post for this site.

I have many blog post ideas in Evernote. Some of those ideas turn into basic notes, and some of them turned into rough drafts. I created a card in Trello for each potential blog post, and then added the cards to respective lists in order to understand what I have to work with. I currently have six lists. They are titled:

Ideas – Notes – Drafts – Blog Drafts – Published – Promoted

With this board I can see all of my blog posts, whether finished or in-process, on one screen. When I take something from an idea to actually writing up notes in Evernote, I drag the related card from the Ideas list to the Notes list. Eventually as I work on each post, I keep moving the card along to different stages in the process and thus lists. In the end, what started all the way on the left as an idea goes all the way to the right as a published and promoted post. For many people, writing a blog post might be a one step process or at least the early stages are done in one’s head. For me, I like to break the process into small steps. If you don’t need that level of detail for smaller tasks like blog posts, try creating a board for something more ambitions.

Sorting

Trello’s key feature is the ability to quickly sort information.  Complex projects can be broken down to smaller steps and then sorted and grouped.

Preparing for a trip

I recently took two trip. In each case I made a card for every single thing I need to accomplish before I left. I didn’t worry about the order; I just typed each task and hit enter. When I got done, I then created specific lists. In this case, three tasks required I leave the house to accomplish them (get cash, purchase sunscreen & get more dog food). With a normal paper list, I would need to make a new list, but with Trello, I just added a list called Errands and dragged those three cards to that list. Several of the task were ones my wife had expertise, so I made a list for her, dragged those tasks to the list and assigned them to her.

Website planning

I have used Trello to create “page lists” for new websites. Type every page you are considering. Sort them by how they would work in the site structure. Then you can even open up voting on cards to other members of your team.

Collaboration

I have yet to use Trello for any substantial group projects, but my wife and I have started to use Trello to organize some household projects we are working on. It has been usefully to quickly get ideas down and then sort them into more managable lists.

Trello is the kind of software I would gladly pay for, but thankfully it is entirely free. It takes seconds to signup and minutes to try it out. It is so flexiable, that if you give it a try, I am fairly confident you will find a use for it.

 

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What Twitter can learn from Pinterest

I am not one of those people who is always calling for the addition of new features to Twitter. I like how it is now. I like that you only get 140 characters. I like the follow/unfollow model. That said, the more I use Pinterest, the more I think about how Twitter could make small changes to improve the experience without ruining the wonder of short updates.

The life of tweets could be extended by allowing for classification and collecting.  Yes, we have hashtags, but I personally don’t find them that elegent. And if I tweet using a hashtag regularly, I still don’t have an easy way to find all the tweets I made using those hashtags.  If I am not going to find my own group of hashtagged tweets, no one else is going to bother to try to find all the tweets I made on one topic.  Twylah has attempted to do this to some degree, but they are using strictly automation. Twitter could avoid buying Twylah (I will miss you Summify), and actually make a better product in the process.

My suggestion to Twitter is give people the option to put Tweets into user created categories (like Pinterest boards).  You could even bury the option so as not to confuse new users, but at least make it an option. Bookmarking sites have shown the popularity of services like this, and with just one selection from a drop down menu, it would create a lot of value for Twitter and users by allowing Twitter to be a destination to find curated “boards” that revolve around specific subject areas.

I mentioned how I like the strict follow/unfollow system Twitter uses, but over time, a small move like this, would position them to better be able to adapt and compete with the Google Plus model of circles. Letting the users decide what to follow on Twitter, makes more sense then having the creator, create circles to share with from existing followers.  Twitter has set itself up as a fairly open networks, and Pinterest’s model of following specific interests would be a nice addition without changing the core Twitter experience.

 

 

Scared, Shy and Misapplied – Three big problems for B2B on Twitter.

Many 2011 social media predictions include the emergence of Business to Business (B2B).  Some predictions have gone beyond just B2B to focus on corporate B2B social media. I agree this is a huge growth area, but there are several significant barriers that may push the realization of this prediction to 2012 or beyond.

Social media’s most powerful use is the ability to converse.  I don’t see many conversations happening on corporate or even mid-sized business Twitter accounts, and that spells big issues with making B2B a growth area.

Three problem areas to consider:

  • Fear that brands are too valuable to link them to a social media account.
  • Conversations aren’t happening (pretty much the death of any value to social media).
  • Any connections made, aren’t between decision makers.

These are three considerable barriers to corporate and mid-size B2B growth, so let’s consider each issue.

They are scared.

When a company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (or in many cases millions depending on scale) building up a brand, they don’t want any missteps. They don’t want the wrong wording used.  They don’t want the wrong affiliation made.  All of those things can happen in social media.  Just like in real life, mistakes are made in conversations. Something as small as calling another company a partner instead of a strategic alliance is worthy of a week of back-and-forth with legal.  To boil it down: there are too many perceived risk to their company speaking.  To get over this fear . . .

They don’t converse.

If a corporate brand is brave enough to speak, they likely are just Tweeting about something they have already posted or got approved via another venue.  They might link to a new white paper or blog post, but they don’t comment on or post something that is unique to Twitter.

It is just another channel to push content that the corporation would be creating otherwise.  Treating social media as just another channel to promote your own products and services can be valuable, but with a pure push mentality, these accounts are only achieving 10-20% of what makes social media effective.

If you are lucky enough to get some conversation going . . .

The people running the accounts aren’t decision makers.

Many B2B Twitter accounts are now run by marketing, PR and media relations people.  If you put all those people in a room for a discussion, what is going to happen?  The first thing is that they are going to tell you about their company and its product.  But they are telling other marketers and PR people, not decision makers. The second thing is that any connections that are made are largely going to be between marketing and PR departments.  How do those connections help your brand?  They don’t.

I love marketers, PR people and those in media relations; after all, I wear all of those same hats at times.  But if I want to converse with them, I follow their personal and agency accounts.  Putting someone in charge of your Twitter account who doesn’t have deep subject matter or product knowledge and/or the ability to interact with other people on the subject matter, is a disservice to the brand.  These individuals and agencies do their best, but they aren’t tasked or empowered to interact on behalf of the brand.

If your organization is looking for a quick solution it makes intuitive sense to rely on already existing departments or use an agency.  But what makes sense in terms of dollars and effort spent, doesn’t always prove to be the right solution long term.

Meaningful connections happen when decision makers converse.  If the majority of account holders are in departments that are only about company promotion, then meaningful conversations don’t happen.  This will likely be the largest barrier to rapid use and success with B2B social media.

My perspective is not entirely negative.

Each of these barriers also point to huge opportunities.

Many corporate B2B brands have social media accounts. Some are dormant, some just push press releases, and others have started to try to interact, but the first mover advantage is open for those who are actually willing to converse.  If you start now on a real engagement approach, your company will stand out.  If you are the first to engage and converse, you will set yourself apart from competitors and establish real value with your social media efforts.  Your company’s account will become the center of your industry’s network, and what you promote and discuss (including your own content) will set the tone for industry discussions.  That tone will not only lead to a powerful social media channel, but will also help establish the agenda for what print and other traditional media choose to write about.

The barrier to entry is significant.  It goes beyond just having a PR or marketing person on your account.  It requires real commitment from your decisions makers (at least one or two) to get active in social media and understand its advantages.  You need subject matter specialists who also can act on connections that are made.

If you aren’t ready to put your whole brand on the line, consider encouraging select decision makers, who are good conversationalists, to start Twitter accounts.  Provide adequate training and basic guidelines. This takes the voice away from a company focus, but allows for connections to be made.  As a company becomes more comfortable with what they see, have the corporate account re-tweet some of the more interesting tweets from these individuals.  To take even more pressure off the brand . . .

Let (almost) everyone speak.

IBM has famously allowed almost everyone in their organization to have Twitter accounts and blogs that have an affiliation with the company.  It naturally follows that every individual is not the brand, but is part of the process. The more individuals in your company that are using social media, the more interactions occur and less pressure is put on small mistakes or affiliations.  The future is bringing the power of an entire organization to social media.  It doesn’t have to be every person, but it has to start somewhere.  Setting up the right people and practices early in a company’s social media progression will allow for meaningful engagement, quick successes and lay the ground work for powerful integration of social media into the organization.

One of my biggest fears for B2B in the coming year is that because everyone says social media is important, money will be thrown at it.  Looking at budgets, it is clear that money is being put behind social media efforts.  Accounts will be created, but conversation won’t happen.  The value of social media won’t be seen and that will lead to some backlash.  I have no doubt that at all levels, including corporate, social media is going to be important.  If you have some input into the process, make your voice heard now, or expect many setbacks before meaningful B2B social media happens.

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Do you have examples of industries or companies were B2B conversations are happening?  Or do you have comments on B2B or effective conversation in general?  I would love to hear about them.