Make Trello Your Productivity Powerhouse

Part of what makes Trello so amazing is the sheer volume of other applications it integrates to get you the features you need. Here I’ve outlined a variety of power-ups, chrome extensions, and zaps that I’ve used to make my Trello run like a well-oiled machine without having to pay for any subscriptions.

Part of what makes Trello so amazing is the sheer volume of other applications it integrates to get you the features you need. Here I’ve outlined a variety of power-ups, chrome extensions, and zaps that I’ve used to make my Trello run like a well-oiled machine without having to pay for any subscriptions.
Want to get the most automation out of Trello without paying for additional power-ups or applications? This will get you off to a perfect start!

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Power-Ups

These are additional functionalities either from Trello or other apps that have partnered with Trello and which you can access and edit right from within Trello. The number of power-ups seems to be growing by the month, but here is the important thing you need to know when deciding if you’ll use a power-up or look for a zap or extension that can do the same thing:

  • The free version of Trello only allows 1 power-up per board

  • Trello Gold ($5/month or $45/year) allows 3 power-ups per board

  • Trello Business Class ($12.50/month or $109/year) allows unlimited power-ups per board

Some of the Power-Ups listed can also be used as separate extensions and applications, so consider that if you’ve maxed out your power-up limit.


Calendar

I love the kanban-board style of Trello because grouping things into lists and being able to drag-and-drop to organize just makes sense to my brain. BUT...when it comes to scheduling, time blocking, or making sure I don’t overload myself on any given day/week/month (year, lol!) I need to see things laid out in calendar form.

Alternatives:

Additional Resources:


Card Repeater

I have a lot of regular weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual admin and marketing tasks and instead of worrying about remembering to add these cards I really just want them to show up when they’re due. I could just leave them on my board but that causes visual clutter and prevents me from clicking ‘done’ which is immensely satisfying.

What works: daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual repeats, repeats on a specific day of the month or year. If you need a card to repeat on something like the 3rd Tuesday of the month or every 2 weeks, this power-up won’t do that and you’ll need to look for another solution. Also, it doesn’t generate a new card with a due date attached, the card just shows up in the specified list on the specified date (so remember to then add a due date if you need it!).

Alternatives:

Additional Resources:


Document Linking: Google Drive/DropBox/OneDrive

You can upload documents to Trello cards, but that creates a separate instance of the document, which can cause problems if you’re trying to collaborate or you have an online file system that you’d like to keep organized.

Instead of uploading documents you can enable power-ups for these file storage solutions so that you can create, edit, and open your original documents and folders from Trello.

Alternatives:

  • If you’ve maxed out your power-ups, you can still manually link to your online documents and folders simply by pasting the link into your Trello card - it won’t look as pretty, but it will do the job

Butler

Butler is/was a standalone service and a power-up that was purchased by Trello and at the time of writing is just in the process of being integrated. If you already have a Butler account, you can continue to use the service as normal (but you can’t upgrade). Be aware that they will be phasing out the website dashboard and all functionality will migrate to the power-up within Trello.

If you want to become a new user, put on your patient hat: you won’t be able to create Butler commands until Trello is done integrating Butler directly into their software.

Butler is an automation tool that allows you to create complex commands for your boards, lists, and cards, and does so in plain language so that you don’t need to be a computer programmer. Butler can sometimes be confusing for people to wrap their heads around, so here is an example:

When a card is added to the list “Downloaded Opt-in” add the checklist “New Lead” and set due date for 1 week from today.

When you’re using Butler, be aware that it relies on exact syntax so if you change the names of your boards, lists, checklists, labels etc., your commands will break.

So for you existing Butler users, it’s important to know your current limits:

  • No matter your plan, you can (only!) have 100 commands per board

  • For free accounts, individual commands can only act on a maximum of 10 cards before it stops working, and you have a limit of 250 usages per week

  • For paid accounts, individual commands can act on a maximum of 100 cards before it stops working, and you have a higher number usages per week, but at this time the exact number is unclear

Alternatives:

  • Zapier can do many of the commands within Butler, but it cannot stack commands. So if you were wanting to use the example above, you would need to create 2 separate zaps: When a card is added to the list “Downloaded Opt-in” add the checklist “New Lead” and When a card is added to the list “Downloaded Opt-in” set due date for 1 week from today. If you’re thinking of using Zapier exclusively, please check out the Zapier limits detailed below!

Additional Resources:

Examples of commands that I use on my boards:

  • On the Sunday before a card is due, copy the card to list "THIS WEEK" on board "Brandi's Week". This command lives on my main strategy board where I plan out my year. It’s much too overwhelming to be looking at for daily to-dos, so every Sunday it looks at all of the cards that have a due date between then and the next Sunday, and copies them over to my weekly dashboard so I only have to look at what’s coming up for that week.

  • When the due date is marked as complete in a card, move the card to list "DONE". I use a modified version of GTD on my weekly dashboard, and since everything has due dates when I check them complete the card automatically moves to my done list without me having to drag it.

  • When a card is added to the list "Potential Lead" or "Lead", add the “New Lead” checklist to the card. At the moment, Trello is also working as my CRM so I’ve built in automations like this to make sure I’m following up with potential leads (in the past they generally got lost in my inbox).

  • When a card is moved into list "1. Blog In Process", add the "Blog" checklist from card "Workflows" to the card. I also use Trello to manage my content, and each list in the board represents the phase that content is in (i.e. blog, email, social media, video, etc.). Each phase has its own distinct steps that need to be taken (and they’re the same every time) so when I move the card to the next phase the relevant checklist is added.

  • When a card is added to the list "Social Media Posts" or "3. Blog Ready for Social Media" add the pink label "SOCIAL MEDIA", remove the green label "EMAIL". Each week I create a single piece of content and then over time it gets repurposed/reformatted. To reduce the number of cards I have to deal with, the content stays in a single card, but moves from phase to phase (as explained above). In addition to the checklist, I also have labels for whatever phase the content is in so that I can easily filter to see what type of content I need to be working on.


Planyway

Planyway is an app that has both a power-up and a Chrome extension. The functionality between them is almost identical except these two things are missing from the power-up:

  • you cannot drag cards from Trello lists directly to the calendar (resulting in due dates being added to the card)

  • there is no 2-way Google sync feature

I will outline the rest of the information in the Extension section.

Alternatives:

Zapier

Zapier is an app that has both a power-up and a standalone service. If you already use Zapier for other things, then don’t bother using a power-up slot for this. If you’re completely new to Zapier it may be easier to use the power-up as it offers a much more simplified user experience as it’s essentially just taking you straight to the most popular Trello-related zaps that you could create without all of the other options/distractions.

If you want to see a full list of zaps or create custom zaps you’ll need to go right to Zapier.com.

I will outline the rest of the information below in the Automation section.

Alternatives:

  • Depending on what functionality you need, you may be able to find it in another power-up or by using Butler


Chrome Extensions

I tend to use extensions when I can rather than power-ups so I don’t have to worry about limits.

Some of these extensions do have versions or alternatives for other browsers, but I’m focusing just on Chrome here.

Add to Trello

This allows you to add a any webpage as a card. With this you can:

  • edit the card title and description

  • pick the board/list where it should go

  • choose whether you want the card to appear at the bottom or the top of the list

Install


Gmail-to-Trello

Don’t confuse this with the Gmail add-on (which is missing many key features). When you select an email to be turned into a trello card, you can also:

  • Pick a label

  • Add a member to the card

  • Specify a due date

  • Select or deselect the email attachments from becoming card attachments

  • Add a link back to the original email

Install

Alternatives:

  • Zapier Create Trello Cards from Gmail Emails (see automation section below)

Additional Resources:


Trellists

Functionally, the less boards you have in Trello the better things work. However, boards with massive amounts of lists can be visually overwhelming and involve a lot of horizontal scrolling, so with Trellists you can toggle specific lists off/on to view only the things that are most important to you at the moment.

Install


Kanban WIP for Trello

This extension essentially allows you to add warning limits to your lists by colouring them yellow (when you’re getting close to the limit) or red (when you’re at/over the limit). I’ll explain how I use it so that will make more sense:

Above I mentioned that I use a modified version of the GTD method (To Do/Doing/Done). I have a To Do list, and a Done list, but my Doing is split into 3 different lists: Top 3 (usually client/project work), Daily Stuff (usually regular repeating admin or marketing tasks), and Meetings. I set limits on my 3 Doing lists to make sure at the start of any day (or the night before) I know if I need to shuffle tasks to later days or occasionally if I can fit in more work! Having the red or yellow pop out at you can be very helpful if you’ve got a lot of cards to look at.

Install


GTD: Trello Card Links

I tend to add a lot of cards to Trello where the link is right in the card title. Since Trello doesn’t support clickable title links, I installed this extension to save myself from either having to open up the card and click the link inside, or having to copy/paste the link from the title into my browser.

Install

Additional Resources:


Planyway

If you are using the Planyway power-up instead of the extension, check the restrictions in the power-up section.

Planyway is the best solution for those that need to be able to see their Trello tasks and their calendar appointments all in one place (and really, how can you effectively schedule your tasks without being able to see your scheduled events/meetings/etc.???).

Planyway has 4 plans - Free, Basic, Pro, and Team

Some of my favourite free features are:

  • View your calendar and board at the same time (you can’t do that with the Trello Calendar power-up)

  • Drag and drop cards onto the calendar to set due dates

  • Start and end dates for cards that can do over multiple days

  • Sync your external calendars to Planyway to view tasks & calendar all in one spot

You’ll need to upgrade to Basic ($3.49/user/month) if you need to:

  • View tasks from multiple boards all on one calendar

  • Create recurring tasks

  • Filter your calendar view by label

You’ll need to upgrade to Pro ($4.99/user/month) if you need:

  • Full 2-way syncing between your boards and your calendar (note: this currently only works with Google calendar, but Outlook and iCal are coming soon)

Install

Additional Resources:


Automations - Zapier

All of the automations below are specifically for Zapier, but I do want to acknowledge Automate.io and Integromat because they come recommended and have many of the same integrations as those outlined below...so if you max out your Zapier plan, why not add the rest of your automations on another service? Not great for managing things all in one place, but great if you’re bootstrapping :)

Like with power-ups, you need to be aware of the limits of Zapier:

  • The free plan allows you to have 5 active Zaps and will perform up to 100 tasks per month

  • The starter plan ($20/month) allows you to have 20 active Zaps, can do multi-step apps (similar to what Butler does), gives you access to premiums apps, and will perform up to 1000 tasks per month


Create Trello Cards from Google Calendar Events

If Planyway is not for you and you’d rather bring your calendar to your Trello boards (especially if you have a lot of events where you need to take action on them before or after), then I’d recommend turning your calendar events into cards so you can add notes and checklists.

Try it out

Alternatives:

  • Planyway will let you see your calendar events and cards together on a single calendar for free, or you can sync your calendar and cards on their paid plan


Create Trello Cards from Gmail Emails

Say you don’t use Chrome and can’t find a good extension that does this. Zapier may be the solution. You can create a card from an email by either starring it or giving it a specific label - decide which one works best for you based on how you use Gmail (I think the label option is best!).

Star to create a card | Add a label to create a card

Alternatives:

  • Gmail-to Trello Chrome Extension


Create Trello Card Daily/Weekly/Monthly at Scheduled Time

If you have things that you need to appear in Trello on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis (and you don’t need to see them in your boards far ahead of time), you can use Zaps that will trigger these cards.

The scheduling options for these are not as complex as the alternatives.

Daily | Weekly | Monthly

Alternatives:

  • Card Repeater power-up

  • Planyway’s card repeater feature

Get all of the functionality you need from Trello with these awesome power-ups, chrome extensions, and Zapier automations

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