I use Trello’s Kanban style boards to manage the big picture of my life. Trello is where I collect every project on my radar, do all my long term planning and work on the overall structure of my business and my life.
But I use Todoist’s GTD (that stands for Getting Things Done which is a very aptly named productivity method) style to do lists to manage the minutiae of my life. Todoist has just enough advanced features to handle the complexity of the tasks I need to tackle day by day while style being a simple enough checklist app to stay out of my way when I’m knocking things off my list.
I’m happy with both (and I use the free program in both cases) but they don’t always play nicely together which seems silly as they are ideal to use in conjunction with each other. What are most indivudual tasks if not pieces of a bigger project? If you’re working efficiently, every one of your daily To Dos should be a step towards completing something in the big picture.
So why couldn’t I just sync the task lists form certain Trello cards directly to my To Do list in Todoist?
There are various IFTTT integrations available that are supposed to connect the two apps but most only go one way as if you’re using one as your main tool and the other as a back-up instead of using both in tandem as I do.
I tried a couple of things. First, I tried to make Todoist more Trello-like with the free Kanbanist that displays your ToDoist tasks in Kanban-like boards. It works exactly as advertised and has a lot of potential… but it would involve completely changing how I use Todoist which I’m not interested in doing. This is also why I’m not excited about the news that Todoist itself now has a kind of Kanban board functionality.
Then I tried to use Trello’s in card checklists to replace Todoist’s tasks lists and that didn’t work for me either. Trello is great for the big picture but was annoying to use for daily tasks. I know some people love it for that but it just didn’t work for me.
I like how I currently use both Trello and Todoist and, for me, each serves an important but different function. I needed Todoist to be Todoist and Trello to be Trello, not to turn one into the other.
What I really needed was something to sync the two with a lot of flexibility in how that sync would work.
Here’s how I’m using it, to give you an example. As I mentioned before, I use Trello to manage the big picture so it’s a list of EVERYTHING on my radar, most of which I don’t need on my daily To Do list until it’s time to actually work on that project. Every project has its own card with a list of tasks and these cards are organized into boards and columns in a complicated way that makes sense to my brain and I won’t bother explaining.
Using Pleexy, I set up synchronization for a single column in Trello called “Hot Seat” that corresponded with a project of the same in Todoist. Whenever a project goes from my backlog to something I am actively working on that day, I move the card for that project into the “Hot Seat” column (which is the same as the “Doing” column for most Kanban users).
I set my Pleexy so as soon as I move a Trello card into that column, the project itself and all of its tasks automatically appear in the Todoist project as tasks. Whenever I check off one of those tasks,
This was exactly what I needed. Now I can still use Trello to manage the big picture and only when I’m actively working on a project do those tasks appear in my daily To Do list in Todoist. It keeps my Todoist list free of clutter from tasks that have nothing to do with the project at hand while still letting me develope those tasks list from the future in the background on Trello. I also love that I can check the tasks off in either program and Pleexy will make sure both are up to speed since sometimes I just happen to be in one or the other when I finish a task.
For more information on Kanban boards and how I use them for writing projects, check out this post form my other blog.