My trello boards

How Trello Organizes my Life

I’m always trying to find ways to organize my life. Categories, lists, reminders. I love it all because it helps me be productive and move toward my goals, and I love checking things off my to-do list. I’ve experimented with various apps on my phone to help me achieve this, and I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t. Trello, at least so far, is working for me.

What didn’t work for me

I tried Evernote, but found it to be too complex for what I needed.

I tried iPhone’s Reminders app for a while, but it frustrated me that I couldn’t change the order of the items in my list to reflect my highest priority items at the top.

I used Swipes for about a year because it was different from any task management system I’d used before, and it took me that long to figure out that I didn’t like it. Swipes had you set a day and time that each item would pop up on your to-do list, which was appealing for a while but eventually made me feel like I was being nagged repeatedly to do things I wasn’t quite ready to do at the moment. I found myself continually “snoozing” tasks. My other complaint about Swipes was that it didn’t allow you to break your to-do list into several different to-do lists. Instead, it was one long list with the option of adding “tags” or categories to each item in that list. I much preferred sorting first by categories, then by deadlines, not the other way around.

Why Trello works for me

Trello offered the kind of customization I was looking for, with layers upon layers of categorization possible.
The first layer
The first layer of categorization is called the “board.” You can name the boards whatever you want rather than have to select from predetermined categories like some apps require. I have one board for each of the following (and more):
My trello boards
Example of Trello Boards
The second layer
In each one of those boards I can add a bunch of different lists, and I can also customize their names. Here’s an example of lists within my temporary “Moving” Board:
My Moving List
Example of Lists
The third layer
And each of those items in the lists above make up the third layer of categorization. Trello calls them “cards.” Cards allow you to break down a project or task into small manageable pieces. And if cards don’t break it down small enough for you, there’s even the option of adding checklists to each card.
Trello Cards
Example of Trello Cards
Trello Checklists
Example of Trello Checklists in a Card

And the best part is…

My favorite feature of Trello is that lists can be moved manually into a different order, as can cards. You can even move a whole list (or an individual card) from the board it’s on to a completely different board (or list), with just a few taps. For instance, if I get some birthday cash out of the blue, I can move something from my wish list to my shopping list quite easily. So I can organize my life in whatever way works for me in whatever moment I find myself in.

Trello has many more useful features than the ones I listed. Go ahead and download the app (for either computer or smart phone, or both!) and give it a try. It might make your chaos a bit more manageable.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson

My favorite childhood book of all time was Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. First published in 1955, it’s an imaginative story about a little boy who draws the story that is happening to him with a giant purple crayon.

Harold goes on a great adventure with his crayon: he runs into a dragon, sails on the ocean, rides in a hot-air balloon, and eats pie for dinner. He travels until he is weary and finally finds his way back home to his cozy bed and falls asleep.

Aside from my fear that this story will inspire my future children to draw on the walls, I’m really looking forward to the day I can read it to them. It reminds me of the innocence of childhood, and it brings to life the dream of a home to which I can always return because it’s where I belong. And I hope that I can pass that dream on to the little ones I will have the responsibility and joy to nurture and guide some day.

For your convenience, you can purchase your own copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon here.

Transitioning out of 2017

I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution enthusiast, but I love the coming of a new year with all its symbolism of rebirth and starting fresh. It’s a significant milestone or checkpoint—to look back on a whole year and reflect on what was good, what was hard, and what has changed since the beginning of it. It’s also a useful tool for evaluating what to carry over into a new year, what to discard, and what new themes to incorporate. This is much gentler and more flexible than a rigid “resolution” and therefore less likely to fail you in the long run.

A friend of mine asks God for a word for the coming year—to guide her spiritual journey and give her a focal point throughout the year to help her attend to her soul. My tradition is similar—asking God to help me categorize my year in a theme or two (for instance, 2016 was the year of waiting and of the unknown), then asking what God foresees the theme of my upcoming year to be. It gives me a good idea of what to look for and how to interpret events and my reactions to them.

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Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by William Bridges

I read Transitions during a stage of life when things were shifting for me in the areas of work and romance. It helped me navigate those shifts and it equipped me with tools to handle even bigger transitions I anticipated for the future. In a nutshell, Transitions helped me freak out way less than I would have without it.

One of my favorite pieces of wisdom from Transitions:

Rule #2: Every transition begins with an ending (we have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new). This is difficult, even if we’ve been looking forward to the change, because we find our identity in the old way/role/situation, and now that identity is shifting.

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Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

A number of years ago a friend loaned me her copy of Henri Nouwen’s the Return of the Prodigal Son. It, along with a few other great books I read around the same time, opened my eyes to the depth of relationship that is possible with God. It also addressed how my deepest insecurities often distract me from that deep relationship I simultaneously long for yet am afraid of. In The Return of the Prodigal Son, Nouwen shares insights from years of study and thoughtful reflection (his own, his friends’, and fellow scholars’) on the familiar parable through the lens of Rembrandt’s famous painting.

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The Gift of Sex, by Clifford and Joyce Penner

This book was given to me by a friend at my bachelorette party. She called it a “classic” although it had only been published in 2003 and I’d never heard of it before. But the more I read, the more I could see how The Gift of Sex could easily become one of those “classic” books that get gifted at bachelorette parties, much like What to Expect When You’re Expecting being a staple at baby showers.

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Streams of Living Water, by Richard Foster

One of the most eye-opening books I’ve read about my faith is Richard Foster’s “Streams of Living Water.” In Streams Foster describes six different ways that Christianity has been lived out over the centuries, each of which he asserts is as biblical and valid as the others. This came as a surprise to me, as I’d grown up in one of the six that seemed to assert that it was the only right expression of Christianity.

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Cards Against Humanity

A lot has been said about the controversial party game Cards Against Humanity, some positive and some sharply negative. If you were to ask me what I think about this Party Game for Horrible People (the game’s tag line), here is what I would contribute to the conversation.

Back when I was doing ministry among a very conservative, “innocent” crowd, the family game Apples to Apples was the go-to social activity. I would grin and bear it, but playing Apples to Apples always made me feel so bored. There wasn’t enough spunk or grit to Apples to Apples. Then came Cards Against Humanity.

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The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I’ve been fighting off (and, if I say so myself, coping fairly well against) deep-rooted unhappiness since I was 6 years old. It manifests itself most-strongly around the winter holiday season when I struggle with a bit of depression. So last Christmas I got myself a book about happiness to combat the annual slump: “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.

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