Karl Hughes

Karl Hughes

Trello as a Reading List

Trello as a Reading List

I first started using Trello and published this post in January, 2015, and since then I’ve used Trello exclusively as my engineering team’s project management system and my personal to-do list. I seriously can’t rave enough about Trello, and I’ve probably introduced a couple dozen people to it along the way. I still publish a board for books that I’m reading or have read if you want to check that out.

I hated reading in high school and “never had time,” in college. I kind of regret that, but I guess there’s a time in your life when you want to spend all your free time socializing and a time in your life when you want a little peace and quiet with a good book.

Anyway, I started reading more when I was living out of my car a couple summers ago. I did a lot of driving, so I started with audiobooks, but I was also doing a lot of relaxing on the beach, so I started picking up business books and biographies whenever I’d see one at a second hand store that looked interesting.

Over the past few years I’ve gotten more serious about reading regularly, and this year (2015) I decided that I would make it my main form of nightly entertainment before bed. So, with a 30 minute train ride to and from work every day and at least a few minutes before bed most nights, I get quite a lot of reading done, and I needed a way to keep it organized.

Keeping track of what I read and want to read

I love organization in general, but especially when it’s digital and therefore doesn’t require a new physical object for me to hold on to. Trello is an organizational system that centers around cards which you can put into lists that in turn live on a board. It’s super-simple, whether you want to use it collaboratively or not. Just watch:

So as I’ve been reading more, I’ve found that I need some way to keep up with which books I want to read next and which books to ask for for Christmas next year or put on hold at the library. Trello can serve many purposes, and for me, it works great as a reading list.

Here’s my reading board on Trello. As you can see, I’ve got five columns (or lists) right now. Starting at the left, the first is my “Wishlist.” These are books that someone mentions to me or I find out about and think would be interesting. I try to keep a long, healthy wishlist here so I’m never left with a situation where I’m about to go on vacation and have no idea what I should download to my Kindle. I keep the wishlist more or less in order of what I would like to get first, but it’s not super strict. If I happen to see a cheap copy of something further down the list, I might pick it up.

The next column is called “Ready,” and as you can probably guess, these are books that I own (in one form or fashion) and are ready to pick up and read. Some of these books I want to read and some are just there and may stay there forever. The ones at the top are generally ones I’ve deemed more interesting or likely to read first, but once again, if the mood strikes me to pull from the bottom half of this list, then so be it. These books are in my possession, so there’s not really a hurry to read them, but I do like to keep things moving through my lists on Trello.

I should say a quick bit about “labels” here. When I get a book, I like to keep track of what format the book is in. Some of them are audiobooks on Audible (the Orange label), some are ebooks that I own (Red), some are physical books that I own or have borrowed (Yellow), and some are available for rent at the Chicago Public Library (Green). Putting labels on them helps me remember which books I actually own and which I’m just borrowing, plus it reminds me to put a hold out on a couple CPL books before I’m ready to read them.

The next two - and eventually more - columns are books that I have finished. I only started keeping track of this at the end of 2014, so my list for 2013/2014 is incomplete, but I put books on there as I remember to. If you ever want to borrow a book or are curious about what I think of something, you can always consult my Finished lists to see if it’s on there. So, join me on Trello, and let me see your reading list if you’ve got one!

Thanks goes to @StevenMaguire for bringing Trello into my life.

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