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How to collaborate on tasks and notes online

Trello is a great, free online tool that lets you collaborate on notes and tasks using a bulletin board structure. It's fairly intuitive and easy to use, and can make big projects much easier to manage, even for widely dispersed groups.

For organizations with few resources or widely dispersed members, collaboration is often limited by the weakest link in the chain. Trello is a free online service that makes it much easier to keep track of who needs to do what, resources they need, deadlines, notes, and more. Its no-frills visual design is actually a strong feature, keeping you focused on tasks and notes. Here's how to get started with Trello:

  1. Create a free Trello account. (You can sign in using your Google account if you'd like.)

  2. You start out with a Welcome Board that's full of cards that are designed to show you the basics of Trello. They're organized into three lists: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Clicking any card shows you notes and attachments, which can include task lists, links, and files.

  3. Trello startup page
    Trello startup page Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  4. Start your own Board by clicking "Boards" at the top right and then "New Board." You're asked to supply a title and an organization.

  5. New Board
    New Board Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  6. Your initial Board has three lists: "To Do," "Doing," and "Done." Click any list to add a card to it. You can drag a user from the right to assign any card to that person.

  7. Click on a card to add comments, attachments, or labels. You can also vote on it, which is great for questions, ideas, or tasks that need consensus.

  8. Changing card info
    Changing card info Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  9. It's easy to move cards from one list to another--just drag and drop.

  10. Changing and adding material.
    Changing and adding material. Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  11. Add new members on the right. If they're on Trello, use their username; if not, just use their e-mail address and an invitation will be sent automatically.

That's the basics. There's a lot here, and for many organizations, Trello can make workflow go much more smoothly.