5 powerful ways to leverage Trello for church

Trello, the digital Kanban and project management software, is all the rage for personal productivity and collaborative project management. Its simple and intuitive interface combined with clever features and powerful integrations with other services have rightly caused it to ascend to the upper echelon of similar tools. The more I use Trello for church, the more excited I get about the possibilities.

If you’ve never checked out Trello, now’s the time. Before you go on with these tips, you might want to read my brief primer.

Here’s how you can leverage the power the Trello for church:

1) Collaborative task management. I’ve set up a simple shared board  between me (the rector of my church) and my administrative assistant with the following lists:

  • Todo
  • Doing
  • Done
  • Resources

All of those are pretty self-explanatory. I add stuff to the Todo list and my assistant moves it to the appropriate list. I clear out the done list after reviewing every week or so.

The Resources list has links to some of the other systems we use and attachments for quick reference.

2) Leadership onboarding. I am in the process of working through exactly what this should look like for us, but you can easily put together a Trello board with essential information for new leaders. Possible lists could be:

  • Team/Staff – with a card/photo for each person on staff
  • HR Docs
  • Policies
  • Church docs – constitution, bylaws, etc.

3) Internal calendar planning/brainstorming. Make a board for the year and list for each month. Add events as cards and drag them around as needed during your brainstorming sessions.

4) Worship set planning. Worship leaders can make a Trello board with a list for each Sunday and card for each song. Drag and drop makes it easy move stuff around as needed in the set, and you can also attach chord sheets, etc to the cards for band members or other leaders.

5) Sermon series planning. Create a board for your series with lists for each week/sermon/talk, and add cards for things like:

  • Preacher
  • Main passage
  • Theme
  • Title
  • Song ideas
  • Graphics

You’ll have everything in one place and can easily share and collaborate with your team as needed. Here’s a pic of a sermon series I planned out with Trello:

Trello for church: sermon series planning

The flexibility and power of using Trello for church means that you’re only limited by your own creativity when it comes to streamlining your church’s processes and communication.

The best part about using Trello for church?

You can do everything I’ve outlined above absolutely free. Upgrading will get you a some extra perks when it comes to backgrounds and integrations, but it’s not at all necessary to get started with this amazing tool for ministry.

Did I mention their mobile apps are free and awesome, too? You’ll have all this stuff at your fingertips when on the go.

I hope this post has been helpful in giving you some ideas on how to use Trello to level up your planning, organization, and collaboration in your own church context.

The Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack. My everyday carry.

I like backpacks. It’s a weakness. I can often obsess over finding the perfect pack, and I own way more than I really need. Moreover, I gravitate toward the expensive ones.

A little over a year ago I gave away two other daily carry type backpacks. Short on cash, but needing a way to haul gear around town during the day and around the country on short trips, I reluctantly started looking for something cheap. I saw the Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack on sale for $35 [edit: correction: $29], so I thought, why not take a chance…it’ll just hold me over until I get a better pack. Then I stashed it away and switched to small messenger bag (too small for my laptop). When I started having to carry around my laptop, I sold my messenger and I got the Rogue out of the closet.

A year later, it’s still my daily driver.

What makes the Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack so great?

1) Design. Sometimes, simpler is better. This is one of those times.

The Rogue is top-loading pack with one main compartment and 3 additional pockets.

The large main compartment is big enough to pack everything you need for the day with enough room to throw in some library books or a small sack of groceries later; it’s about 25 liters. The top flap is thoughtfully designed to keep water out via sides that tuck under (kind of hard to explain…) and fastens with a combination of velcro and sturdy buckles. This style of opening allows for the bag to expand and contract a bit as needed (like a true rolltop, but less so) and provides a handy and stow a light jacket under the straps.

Interior zipper pocket and admin section

Inside the main compartment you’ll find a lightly padded laptop sleeve, a small zippered pocket toward the top along with an admin section for your writing utensils, business cards, etc.

On the exterior of the pack there’s a nice small zippered pocket for quick access to cables, a small tablet or paperback. On one side there’s mesh water bottle holder that can hold most anything up to a liter in volume.

The shoulder straps have the perfect amount of padding: enough to keep you comfortable with loads under 20lbs or so (hopefully you’re not carrying much more than that on the daily) but not so much as to be bulky. There’s fairly useless bottle-opener attached one shoulder strap. I’ve only used it once, but I suppose it could come in handy in a pinch.

A simple webbing grab-handled is sewn to the top above the shoulder straps. Additional understated webbing on the front and side of the pack provide a place to lash on extra cargo, wet shoes, or whatever as needed.

2) Construction. This is my second Timbuk2 bag, and just like my other one it seems flawlessly constructed. There’s not a stitch out of place and all the materials seem high-quality and durable. I’ve had the pack over a year and carried it daily for almost 10 months. It still looks almost new.

3) Price. These are often on sale at Amazon, Newegg, etc for $75 and under. Like me, you could get even get lucky and find one under $50 if you’re not too picky about the color. I think this is probably one of the best values in backpacks out there, to be honest.

4) Other general awesomeness. Because of the way this pack is made, it looks great either full or empty. It collapses down nicely when not packed to the brim, so you won’t feel too weird when you’ve just your laptop and jacket. Even when packed full (and this pack can hold a lot!) it maintains a slim profile.

Speaking of looks, I like that it retains pretty much all the function of most tacticool packs, while still maintaining a more sophisticated style. No, it’s not boardroom ready, but neither does it look like you’re heading out to hike the Grand Canyon. There’s nice velcro strip you can put patches on, if you like. I put an Arizona state flag patch on mine.

It’s also a highly water-resistant pack. Top and front are basically waterproof material. The sides might let a little in if soaked, but if you find yourself caught in the rain your stuff should be fine for while you find shelter.

Possible drawbacks

Despite not being super TSA friendly, this pack does fit well under airline seats.

1) The velcro opening is a bit noisy. not at all an issue for me, but I could see how it could be annoying for some people. You could get silencers, if you wanted, and just use the buckles to close the pack.

2) It’s narrow pack. Some wider binders might not fit super well. I have one that I carry all the time and it has to go in diagonally. Standard letter size notebooks and file folders are fine.

3) The laptop sleeve is integrated into main compartment. When traveling, you’ll have to open the main section to get your laptop out when going through security.  If you’ve packed it pretty full, it can be tough to get wiggle your laptop back in. For this reason only it’s not my preferred travel pack if I’ve got a laptop, but it’s not horrible or anything.

The Timbuk2 Rogue Laptop Backpack

This pack isn’t quite big enough for trips longer than a couple nights, and it’s not the most TSA friendly design. All that said…After nearly a year carrying this bag every day, I’ve no immediate plans to replace it. If this one got lost I might even get another in a different color. It’s just a great all-around daily pack.

Being forced to work with a less expensive pack has helped me realize that more expensive doesn’t always equal better. More than that, sometimes the best pack is the pack you already have. And even more than that, my life hasn’t change significantly since “downgrading” to less expensive daily carry bag. All good lessons for a gear junkie like me.

How I’m Getting Things Done with Field Notes

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles 

Field Notes are the clever, collectible (and thus, a bit addictive), design-focused notebooks that all the bloggers rave about. They really are fun, fairly affordable, and quite useful.

I use my Field Notes as my pocket notebook. It goes where I go to capture thoughts and ideas while out-and-about. I also use them to plan out my day.

When I’m disciplined, it goes like this:

  • At night, I’ll prepare the page for the next day by writing the day of the week, month, date, and liturgical feast if applicable at the top of the page.
  • Right below that I will write down the readings for Morning and Evening Prayer for the Daily Office.
  • On the left side of the page, I will list the most important things I’d like to get done for the day (no more than six usually). As the day goes on I just capture item below that to make a running list.
  • On the right side of the page I’ve started making a simple daily agenda from 9-5 with any hard commitments I’ve made so I can see my day at a glance and add to it as necessary.

I’ve used Patrick Rhone’s Dash/Plus system (similar to Bullet Journal) as a quick way to indicate meta info on each list item.

Here’s what a typical daily page looks like:

 

I use a Pilot G2 .07 mechanical pencil to write in my FN, which I love, because the metal tip retracts when not in use, making this a pocket-friendly pencil.

If you want, you can get tons of nice covers for your Field Notes, but they’re fine without, as long as you are okay with your notebook developing some character. I like having a bit of extra protection for my notes, so I had a cover custom made from this Etsy shop.

 

How I’m Getting Things Done with Trello

For context, you’ll want to read Getting Things Done: Tools, Practices, & Principles and Say hello to Trello, a new tool to organize your life and ministry

I have a “team” in Trello called Trusted System. Within that team I have six boards:

  • Next
  • Projects
  • Tickler
  • Someday/Maybe
  • Reference Lists
  • Horizons & Areas of Focus

Next

My Next board has four lists of cards:

  • Inbox – for throwing stuff in as go throughout my day
  • Waiting for  – anything that needs to get done ASAP but I’m still waiting on someone else’s action (reply to an email, etc)
  • Next – Stand alone physical next actions ( for example “move bookshelf from living room to hall nook”)
  • Agendas – One card containing a list of things to talk about, per person need. There’s always agenda cards for my wife, bishop, associate pastor, administrative assistant, plus a few others as needed.

I use Trello color-coded “labels” for contexts. My contexts are:

  • Home
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Read
  • Phone
  • Errands
  • Anywhere
  • Laptop

Projects

My Projects board contains anything that that requires more than one physical next action. As I review this board every week, I add physical next actions to my next board. I have two lists on this one:

  • Current – Projects that are active
  • Pending/Delegated – Similar to “Waiting for” on my Next board.

Reference Lists

This is a pretty flexible board that just contains any lists I need on regular basis for reference. Mostly just packing lists as this point.

Someday Maybe

My Someday Maybe board has six boards, each with stuff I’d like to do eventually, but are not at all pressing. As I review this I move these things to the appropriate places on my Projects or Next boards. My lists are:

  • Personal Projects
  • DMAC (the church I pastor)
  • Writing
  • Stuff to buy
  • Home & Family

Tickler

This functions as a complement to my physical tickler file and my digital calendar. It is made of four lists:

  • January – March
  • April – June
  • July – September
  • October – December

As I go through the year I drag the current quarter to the left so it’s always the first one I see. I use this to put date-specific reminders, files/confirmation numbers I’ll need etc.  This is for stuff that needs to happen around a certain date/month, but is not set in stone. So “schedule eye exam – January” I’ll just throw in January-March. When I review this board, I’ll move stuff to the appropriate place as needed: Projects, Next, or my calendar.

Horizons & Areas of Focus

This board is made up five lists. The first list is Mission and Core Values. The first card contains my personal mission statement:

“Help others discover and grow in the great love of God.”

Below that I have a card for each of my core values:

  • Spirituality
  • Family
  • Fellowship
  • Fun
  • Service
  • Stewardship
  • Creativity
  • Rest

In each of those cards I have a list of core habits I try to cultivate. So in the “Stewardship” card I have:

  • Spend less than I make
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week
  • Review calendar weekly

The other lists are “areas of focus” or “spheres of life.”

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Parish Priest
  • Musician

Each of those lists has four cards:

  • Desires – Specific ideas of what I want to be like in these areas
  • Actions – Concrete ways to move toward the vision (no more than 3 at a time)
  • Challenges – Thinking ahead to possible obstacles
  • Vision – A description of  the big-picture “end result” in each of these areas