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This week the relative team sat down to discuss our top tips for Trello after ditching pens and paper in favour of using the software as our permanent digital project management solution. Here are our top 10 Trello tips and tricks:

1. Keep it simple

Everyone in the relative team agrees that one of the most important things to bear in mind when using Trello is to keep things simple! This is especially important when you have team members who aren’t as experienced with Trello. Forget this rule at your peril, a board can quickly go from being a powerful tool to an overwhelming nightmare.

2. Dealing with notifications

Since the roll-out of Trello’s new notification system in April 18 you can now mark notifications as unread. This is extremely useful when you want to look at the conversation that’s happening on a card but you aren’t able to respond straight away. Marking as unread allows you to keep the reminder and red bell icon active until you are ready to action the item at a later date.

3. Learn your keyboard shortcuts

Some of our team members have found that using Trello keyboard shortcuts makes life so much easier. One useful shortcut is pressing ‘q’ , as it will auto toggle cards assigned to you (the currently logged in user), brilliant!

4. Use comments as a diary to give reasoning for actions

Throughout a task’s lifespan, there are many changes that take place. We find it useful to use Trello’s comment system as a diary in addition to a place where you can have a conversation with other card participants. This is important because it gives the reasoning behind the action, for example, after have a phone conversation with a client, adding a comment to the card(s) that where discussed in the call can give reasoning for changes that may happen weeks or months down the line, long after the specifics of the conversation have been forgotten.

5. Properly format tasks in the checklist

In line with tip #1, checklists can help keep your boards simple, not everything has to be its own card! That being said, it’s not very useful to set a due date on a card 3 months in the future then have 30 checklist items. This is a sure-fire way to guarantee a missed deadline, the deadline may be in 3 months but task number 1 may need to be completed by the end of the week, if there’s no notification or urgency for that task to be completed then it probably won’t get done. The same is also true when tasks can’t be completed because they are ambiguous in nature e.g “do customer research”. To resolve these issues we ensure tasks are written in the following format:

Task to be completed – @usertocomplete – due date

for example

Research 3 targets customers and add findings to comments – @danielgregory – 22/05

Then update the due date to represent the next task’s due date in the checklist, once that task is completed the due date should be updated to the next item and so on until all the tasks are completed.

6. Reduce email noise

Although great for keeping team members focused on the task at hand and keeping projects on track, Trello can become a major distraction when it comes to email. One team member was becoming increasingly frustrated with this and has since set up a rule in Outlook to auto folder email from Trello and allow her to look at her notifications when she’s ready. Another way to limit email noise is to change the email frequency in Trello settings to only receive emails periodically. However, this only reduces the frequency to notifications every hour so still a pain and unnecessary email clutter for busy boards. The last option is to turn off notifications completely, although scary for some it can be a valid solution if you know that you use Trello every single day.

Relative Marketing Directors Simon and Robert looking at Trello on a Mac computer

7. Utilise Mark down formatting to style your text

Taking the time to familiarise yourself with trello’s support for Mark down syntax can really pay dividends when it comes to putting your point across and properly formatting your content.

8. Agree board standards upfront

Should this be a card? Who’s responsible for creating list? When should cards be archived? These are all questions that can cause disruption in day to day workflow, so it’s best to clearly outline what’s what when the board is created to avoid confusion down the line.

9. Get clients involved

We’ve found that getting clients involved with Trello has really helped improved client relationships. Clients are able to see their projects progressing in real-time, not only that but it’s easy to add input and feedback quickly and easily.

Joe using trello to communicate with clients

10. Download the app

The last tip is simple if you often get lost in an abyss of tabs, downloading the Trello app on your Mac or PC helps separate concerns and prevents it from getting lost in your browser!


Trello is an amazing piece of software that really has transformed how we work. We hope you found these tips useful and if you have any tips of your own please feel free to share them with us, reach out on Twitter

Daniel Gregory profile picture

About the author

Danny studied Art and Design at MANCAT and later at Bolton Community College. Since then he has moved away from design, finding that he's much happier programming. He hasĀ an unhealthy obsession with Quavers and hummus. At Relative, he spends the majority of his time developing websites for clients.

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