This is the second part of my description of using Trello as my journal or notebook. I described in the first part how I mapped my requirement to a Trello board. It was about a monthly overview, in which the individual calendar weeks and days are clearly visible and I have a note area to be able to write notes or put down to-do lists.

By moving from an analog to a digital journal, I wanted good search capabilities and various ways to link Trello cards to other systems or posts.

I started with a calendar week on my Trello board. A calendar week is represented in a column. The title of the column is the calendar week (week 1 – 52). A day is represented in a Trello card with the date. In the card, I write down everything there is to work on. At the end of the month, I archive the existing calendar weeks (columns) and start the new month with the current calendar week.

Atlassian Trello journal board and cards

Technical Setup

In the initial setup of the Trello board, I used a template: 2020 Online Bullet Journal – BuJo created by Nayara Soares. It mapped my idea of a journal but was too cluttered for me, with too many cards on one view.

My goal was just to see the current status. On the board, I create a new column for each week with the current calendar week and each day a card with the date of the current day.

In addition, a ToDo list is kept each day, listing each task for the day. This is the setup I started with. It is a minor diligence task to always provide the correct information in the correct format. I quickly looked for a way to automate repetitive tasks.

There are several solutions to this problem. You can use power-ups that add functionality to cards and boards (Voting, Giphy) or link them with other applications, such as Jira, Confluence, or Google Docs. With a power-up, like Calendar Power-Up or Card Repeater I can visualize different representations and tasks or copy similar elements for a new tag.

However, I still lack the freedom to customize the cards and formats the way I want. To automate and control certain behavior one can use Trello Butler which is already included in Trello and is perfect for my purposes. Later on, I will explain how I used this automation to further customize my journal to my needs.

Butler – automation of work steps

Here is a rough overview of the different automation processes Butler offers:

  • Rules: rules according to which defined actions are executed

  • Card/Board Button: Creation of buttons that can be assigned an action.

  • Calendar/Due Date: Create actions based on a due date, day of the week or a defined date.

With these options, I was able to implement the requirements described above. The first thing implemented is the creation of calendar weeks and days.

Atlassian Trello Automation

Creating the calendar week and days

I want to automatically create a card for each day with the current date and store it in the current calendar week. The following Calendar Automation implements this requirement.

Atlassian Trello Automation Calendar

The first line shows on which days this automation should be executed. For me it is every working day(every weekday); I do not want to work on the weekend :grinning: .

The second line follows the command to create a Trello card (create a new card) with the title of the current date (with title "{date}"). The parameter {date} is a variable that is derived from a list of variables provided by Trello. The format can be determined with the variables, in my implementation: April 12, 2022.

The third step is to specify which list the card should be created. In Trello, you need a column in which you create the Trello map. In the third line, the keyword list for the list and the title are created via a Trello variable, “CW {weeknumber}".

Interestingly, I don’t need an extra rule to create a new calendar week. The rule creates a new column directly when a new calendar week is created. The variable {weeknumber} always indicates the calendar week for the current day.

In the last step, the due date is entered in line four, set due day today, set. The due date can be set via a menu in the automation. Here you can work with relative times or with fixed values like every Monday or every 1st day of a month.

Atlassian Trello week

Create a ToDo List

Next, I defined a rule that is automatically triggered whenever a new Trello card with a date is created.

Atlassian Trello Automation To-do-Liste

With the condition in the first and second line when a card with ... the rule is triggered, a search is performed for a card with the current date ({date}) begins. Furthermore, the card has been created in the column with the current calendar week. In the third row, I create a new ToDo list with the command add an empty checklist. The list is created with the name “TODOs” and another variable ({isodate}) is created.

Weekend, what went well

At the end of the week, I would like to create a card on which I reflect and write down all the important and positive experiences and adventures of the week.

For this purpose, I have prepared a card in an extra column as a template. Trello Templates are useful when you want to use a card over and over again and you want to have certain properties predefined. In Trello, you can turn any map you create into a template by selecting the Make template action at the bottom of the map.

Atlassian Trello Make Template
Atlassian Trello card template

The map can be placed in a visible column (in my journal in the Extras, Some Help column). It is also possible to hide the card and activate it via rules.

Here is my rule for creating the card for the weekly closing:

Atlassian Trello Automation Wochenabschluss

With the call every friday, of a Calendar rule, a card is created that starts with the following description in the title: “Highlights”. This card is placed at the bottom of the column with the current calendar week({weeknumber}) and thus symbolizes the end of the week.

A note on the rule in line two: It is not possible to create cards in Butler using a template. This restriction has resulted in me copying a card instead of creating a new one using a template.

Summary

In this post, I explained how I built my journal in Trello and automated it. I gave insights into PowerUps and Butler. I did not cover various challenges, such as working with emails. There are many ways to incorporate emails into Trello. To get started, I recommend the one linked here: Blog. One of the questions I have is the automatic transfer of unfinished to-dos from the previous day to the current day. This question would have been too extensive for this article. I invite you to find your own solution to the problem and would be happy to discuss your feedback.

I am available for further questions and comments and I hope these two blog posts were able to give some suggestions on how to use Trello.

You want to learn more about Trello as a tool to organise your daily tasks? We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Just contact us.