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.

Climbing Out of Credit Card Debt

After retiring my credit card, I was finally living within my means, i.e. not spending more than my income. It was a major victory, but there were still thousands of dollars in credit card debt looming in the background, adding on interest each month I paid only the minimum payment. My next step toward a debt-free life was to attempt to live below my means (to spend way less than my income) so that I could make much larger payments on the credit card. That meant a major budget cut.

I know, I know, budget cuts are buzz-kills. They mean less of the “fun stuff” that cost you money. They are also our mercy when we want to get a handle on our finances.

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My Joy List

Cultivating Joy

I’m not a naturally joy-filled person. I brood, and I ruminate, and I often see the glass as half-empty. I don’t necessarily consider this a defect (the world benefits from its pessimists and critics), but I do suspect that I might miss out on some really beautiful moments if I don’t make an effort to cultivate more joy in my life.

So, what does “cultivating joy” look like for me? Part of it is naming the things that I’m grateful for. Part of it is allowing the rare things that cause me to break out into spontaneous joy to happen more frequently. My husband discovered at random that I can’t help belting out the lyrics of Rockin’ Robin when I hear the tune, so sometimes when he knows I need cheering up he’ll hum it. It doesn’t take long til I’m giddily “hoppin’ and boppin’ and singing” along.

I cannot be dependent on Rockin’ Robin to bring me joy every day—it would probably lose its charm after a while. Maybe a regular infusion of various things that cause me great happiness would contribute to additional joy. My joy board seems to be dominated by cute little animals, my favorite little kids, and upbeat music. So perhaps I can get myself a pet, or find a way to spend time with the long-distance kiddos who call me Auntie, or listen to more major chord music than the same old contemporary singer-songwriter music with minor chords that I usually listen to on Pandora. I’m not getting rid of it altogether; just mixing it up a little.

While I do believe that true joy cannot be manufactured and that it rather comes from deep within, I also believe that outer behaviors can influence our thoughts and feelings, and in turn our deeper beliefs and states of mind.

Small changes have the potential to cultivate great joy.

May you and I find the joy that comes from without and from within, both on the holy days set aside for such joy, and all the ordinary days in between.

Married to a Non-Introvert

I am a super-introvert, and my husband definitely is not. Not that he’s an extrovert—that actually might have been easier to adapt to since he would have had a broader social circle to run around with and would have depended on me less for social stimulation. But he’s sorta in the middle of introversion and extroversion which means that he prefers to spend most of his time with one or two of his favorite people. And that almost always includes me.

So, spending time together gives him social energy, while mine becomes depleted (as is the case with all of my social interactions).

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Being Phlegmatic

A former supervisor-turned-dear friend once described me as someone who accommodates others day after day until reaching an unspoken limit where I can’t take it anymore. He said that’s when I “dig my heels in” and refuse to budge, catching everybody off guard because they had no idea I was accommodating that whole time since I seemed to be participating so willingly. I learned much later that this was classic Phlegmatic behavior.

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Unemployed Full-Time Work

Some of my longest, most depressing, and most anxiety-filled months were those in which both myself and my husband were unemployed, with rent and bills piling up every month on my credit card. Having that kind of stress and fear hanging over our heads was debilitating. To the degree that occasionally, out of hopelessness, we stopped applying to as many jobs as we could and just succumbed to the inertia that grabbed at us. Not getting the results for which we’d hoped discouraged us from putting more effort into trying.

I found that I needed a perspective-shift.

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Stress Magnet

I figured out a few years ago that I carry my stress in my jaw. It’s an ache that comes from constant jaw-clenching, and it’s my body’s way of telling me to lighten up or take a break. And it’s been talking to me a lot lately.

The problem is, I don’t have enough going wrong to warrant that kind of constant tension in my jaw. I make stress when there is none, or at least when there is very little.

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Non-Verbal Affection

Sometimes I am so exhausted that my over-taxed brain just cannot pull it together to work with my mouth to produce words that make any sense. And often when this happens I’m in a situation where I cannot escape into a quiet room all by myself, and sometimes there’s someone with me I care very much about who wants attention and affection.

So I’m learning how to communicate non-verbally. Being present with another person, showing them I care about them, without talking. Here’s how:

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