do you trello left or right?

trello illustration

Like any amazing Trello user, I am constantly trying to be flexibly organized. Ignoring the fact that I am, by nature, not a spontaneous person. Regardless, life happens, boards adjust, and labels fly. It's how the world works.

I was introduced to Trello several years ago, however, the company that I was with at the time embraced Asana (another amazing organizational system). I got really into it about a year and a half ago when the digital agency I worked for used Trello for all the things. In that time, I saw lots of boards of varying structures, myriad of members, and labels galore. Moving on from that agency and with the work that I do for my freelance clients, Trello shines the brightest in keeping the notes, tasks, bugs, and deadlines organized.

Akin to my freelance work, my personal life and tasks are also organized using Trello. I have a board full of general tasks that house anything from what I'm working on through various bills, upcoming events, and randoms. Even unicorn things.

While chatting with a friend, aka geeking out about our Trello obsession, I noticed that my tasks flowed in the opposite direction of her. My general tasks even flowed opposite to most of the boards that I have in place for freelance work, various vacations (because members), etc. This led me to wonder...

...is there an optimized workflow that tasks and lists should be used for?

Let's review the notions of LTR or RTL.

The "Right" Way

Below is an illustration of a fairly common board flow. We have tasks moving left to right heading for a completed list (or in this case "Sprint 1 Completed"). He even has a green label, which signifies....nothing special.

trello illustration for a left to right flow

Like I said, this flow, based on the Google images that I looked at, is fairly popular. Most people tend to look at the linear left-to-right progression of tasks heading toward completion. I use a flow almost identical to this for every agile project I do (...which is hopefully all of my clients and work at this point).

Because I'm comparing (*cough* judging *cough*), I thought of some pros and cons that I have experienced in this flow.

PROS

  • People just get this direction. I do not have to dedicate tons of time outlining the progression to clients.
  • By dedicating a column for sprint tasks completed (see Sprint 1 Completed), I have the capability of archiving an entire list or storing it at the end of the board and demonstrate to clients what has been done. This is really effective when measuring velocity with Scrum for Trello
  • There is somewhat of an organic feel in task creation ("inbox") which leads into progression.

CONS

  • The least relevant pieces of content or information are available upon page load. What I mean by this is that the content that I see by viewing my board is typically showing tasks I am not actively working on.

It may seem obvious due to the amount of pros versus cons that this methodology is superior. I'm still not convinced.

To The Left, To The Left

Similar to above, the following illustration demonstrates a workflow (including list headings) for a right-to-left structure for Trello tasks. This is roughly the current structure that I have for a couple personal boards.

trello right to left illustration

I did not really find any workflows online for a methodology like this. Either that means I am completely crazy (totally true), it is very uncommon and unused, or right-to-lefters are ninja Trello users who may or may not be mythical in existence.

What I appreciate this is the clutter that is lots of lists and a series of tasks within each list does not invade my working space. I can prep each week (or each day) by moving a series of cards into the upcoming list and then when they become actionable they become current actions. I try and reserve the current actions list for things that will happen within the next day or so.

Again evaluating this method:

PROS

  • On page load, the first list(s) displayed are the most actionable.
  • On the mobile app, the first list that you're displayed once navigating to the board will be the current actions.
  • Archiving cards is simple. You use the Archive button and watch them vanish into the Trello universe (moment of silence is optional).

CONS

  • You loose the visual of completed tasks. I suppose you could continue to create a separate list and either pull far right or send to another board for reference.

Yet again we have many pros and only a single con. How does that even happen? Psssh. Objectively, I know that Trello is not designed for any specific workflow, which is what makes it so versatile. Subjectively and selfishly, I want answers! I still feel as though my unconventional right-to-left is so helpful for personal tasks or errands that do not require reporting or analysis. I can even buy into the fact that my clients might never grow out of the left-to-right standard.

What happens at the end of this article? You go about your day after going to Trello and unearthing the magic and I go about my day making things and being weird.

What are your thoughts? Do you Trello the "right" way? Or are you a unicorn, too? Tweet me @acreativeio.

Onward!