Une Vagabonde

A taste of the bohemian lifestyle...
Trello on screen
How I travel

Staying on top of things with Trello

When work and travel get mixed up, digital-nomad-style, it’s easy to go overboard one way or another. Especially when you’re a part-time nomad. Organisation is key. And Trello is my favorite tool to keep things in check.

On one hand, it is easy to fear that you’re not productive “enough” and that you’re being irresponsible living the traveling life when you should be working. Trust me, I know the feeling. I have my father’s voice in my head reminding me on a regular basis that maybe I could be doing something productive instead of frolicking around and taking pictures.

On the other hand, it is as easy to fear that you’re not making the most out of the place you’re at because you’re spending most of your days locked in a room, facing a computer. What difference does it make that there’s a beautiful scenery outside your window if you’re here to work!

I have already mentioned my 60-40 rule: on a regular day, I work 80% of the time and I do other things 20%. When I’m traveling, I shift the ratio to 60% work, 40% other things. If my workload is heavy at the time, then I might do it six days a week, but, with a little organisation, I’m generally able to spend a good couple of days on a 100% frolicking-spree.

Keeping my days organized with Trello


Trello is a project management web application that allows you to create “cards”, each one of these cards live in a stream, and can easily be moved from one stream to another. You can feed the card with a lot of information: links, attachments, checklists, labels, comments, due dates…

The system is very convenient for team work: you can assign cards to team members, share one or many boards.  We have turned many of our clients to it. Needless to say it’s beautifully designed and very user-friendly. Are you convinced yet? Here are a few examples of how we’re using Trello to keep things in check:

Project or client boards / Clients team

Depending on the level of engagement we have with the client, we either create a team and we all share several boards, or Charlotte and I will have one client board that we share to keep track of how the project is moving. Our streams are the following:

  • To-do
  • In progress
  • Done
  • Sandbox (a.k.a. “Dump”)

You will have guessed, we move the cards from one stream to the next as the project(s) move forward. If we’re working on multiple projects for a client, we either use the color-coded labels to identify the project or, if it gets too complicated, we’ll move each project to their separate boards and create a team.

Wherever I am, I can check on project advancement in a question of seconds. Talk about convenience.

Team board

As a team, we also use Trello to keep track of what is going where. It helps staying on point during our weekly meetings, whether those are live or on Skype. Unfortunately, Trello is no help for unexpected guests…

Skype meeting

The organization here is similar:

  • To-do
  • On hold
  • Specific clients streams when the projects are more complex
  • Closed projects (that we will revisit here and there in case we can be of service to that particular client again with a new product or a new idea).

Personal board

Finally, I have my own personal board that I use as a productivity framework. I have created a board with seven steams, one for each day of the week (I only have one stream for Saturday/Sunday that I called “Weekend” – how original), and then I have my “Dump” stream.

I create one card per project I’m working on. On these cards, I use the checklists as my to-dos for specific actionable items. I also use the due dates for things that have a deadline. In the “Dump” stream, all the cards are by alphabetical order if no deadline required, on top of the stream, all the cards that have deadlines in emergency order.

Once a week, I distribute the cards on the different days and I color-code them:

  • Red = big
  • Orange = medium
  • Green = small

and I use the 1-3-5 rule: one big thing, 3 medium things and 5 small things every day. That’s my goal. Once that’s done, I can get out and take photos, go for a hike, a yoga-class,… Sometimes it takes four hours to get things accomplished, sometime it takes 10. When I’m traveling, I try to keep in mind that 60-40 rule and well, if I don’t get to the bottom of all my cards by then, and if it’s not a question of life and death (I chose not to be a heart surgeon for a reason, ahem…), then I’ll go and explore my surroundings.

Do you have a favorite organisation tool? Share it with us in the comments!

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