Tech Tips & Tricks

Have you ever left a meeting feeling like nothing was accomplished?  Have you ever wanted to visualize your project and collaborate with team members?  In this post, we’ll explore a free task management tool called Trello that you can use to maximize your productivity. Easy to understand, easy to collaborate, and easy to incorporate. No sales pitch here, just an honest look at a tool that makes life easier to manage.


What is Trello?

  • Trello is a free task management tool that visually organizes your work and life.
  • Think of it like a bunch of sticky notes on a board.  Except neater.
  • You can see it on your phone, tablet, or desktop with the Trello Apps.
  • There is a premium package, but it’s not necessary to access most features.



How to Use Trello…

The best way to understand it is to try it! 


It’s Easy To Get Started:

Step 1:

  • Create a New Board.  Once you sign in, simply press the “PLUS” button to create a new board, team, or business team.

Step 2:

  • Create Your Lists. Simply Start Typing and click “Enter” or “Save.”

Step 3:

  • Add and Move Cards.  Simply drag and drop cards to move them.


Ideas for Using Trello in Parks and Recreation

Take notes during meetings and assign tasks to different people

Take your paper notes and turn them into action by inputting the tasks into Trello.  Anytime you see an initial next to a card, that means that it has been assigned to a person.  The Eye means that that person has been subscribed to notifications and will get an email with this task.  The red label has been assigned as “Urgent” which accompanies a deadline.


Prepare for Outdoor Pool/Summer Programming

Our outdoor pool planning team used Trello to list our our various tasks and responsibilities.  We had a brainstorming session and listed all the cashier related items under one list, and then one by one we moved them into the individual persons list.   If they were collaborative projects, we left them under the general “Cashier” List.


Visualize your onboarding and training process with new staff

You can do this two ways.  You can either list out the steps that it takes to get a new staff hired, as demonstrated below OR you can take these steps and put them as a header on a list.  Then, once you have each step listed as an individual list, you can write in names of your candidates and move them through your process.  This is especially helpful when you are hiring a bunch of staff at once, either for camps or summer programming.

Shutdown Planning

Utilize Trello to help plan and map out your upcoming facility or park shutdown.    You can organize this a number of ways, completely up to you.  One way that I found helpful is by listing tasks by day.  If you don’t get something done, simply drag and drop it to a new day.  You can even look at this list on your phone so you never forget what you had planned.


Tracking work orders within your facility

You probably already have a work order/facility management system if you work in a recreation center, but most likely you don’t have full control (or even full access) to view and modify these work orders.  Use Trello to remember which work orders you have placed and what stage they are in. Give team members permission to edit so that this board can be updated even when you aren’t there.

Recreation Brochure Development

Best for small agencies.  List your programs and events on each card and then the details within each card.  Could be a continuously updated planning tool.

Track public input results via surveys

If you are doing a huge public engagement campaign with multiple surveys, consider using Trello to track those results.  You can even link trello cards to SurveyMonkey, where the cards will display real time data.

Visualize your next big event

Great for planning your next Open House event, Fall Festival, or other special event

Policy development

Starting with the basic policy concept, create lists for initial development, board recommendations, city council approval, and other steps within your organization.  Add documents, videos, and other attachments to make the board more dynamic.

Social Media Planning

Schedule and plan your upcoming posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other programs you use.  Set a deadline, assign to team members, and never miss a post with notifications.

Track Customer Cards/Feedback

What happens with all of those comment cards you have lying around? Do they sit in your inbox?  How do you track patterns over time?  Simply write in the complaint or suggestion into Trello and see what feedback reoccurs.  Categorize your lists by facility area, staff member, or program.

Keep track of your own to-do list

Of course, you can keep track of your own to-dos.  It will be completely up to you as to how you organize this board.  I find that simple is better.



Optional Features

Invite team members to collaborate

Add Labels to categorize your cards.

Add stickers or photos to make your cards stand out.

Choose from over 50+ “Power-Ups” to customize your lists.

Connect with Apps like Asana, Evernote, OneDrive, Google Drive, Survey Monkey, Jotform, Dropbox, MailChimp, etc.

Utilize features like card aging, card repeater, card snooze, calendar, Voting, and more.

Change your background.

Set up Email to Board Settings, allowing you to email tasks directly to Trello


Quick Tips for Collaboration:

Host a quick how-to session for new users

Make sure all team members have access to view and edit

Discuss how you will use and optimize the board

Have all members subscribe to updates

Under Settings > Create Team & Add/Remove Permissions



Similar Alternatives to Trello:






An Ever Changing Visual World

The Need for Visuals

We’ve all heard this phrase before:

A picture is worth 1000 words

I truly believe that visuals are necessary in this changing fast paced world.  No longer do we have time to read a 6-page paper on a topic.  We need engaging photos, videos, interactive infographics, and self explanatory graphics.

We are inundated with information from every angle; we need to be able to quickly comprehend a message with limited time.

Learning with Learning Styles

Of course, we all have different learning styles.  I sincerely appreciate graduate and doctorate students who read pages upon pages of research related to their field.   That is the kind of “deep work” that Cal Newport talks about in his book.  The kind of work that we need in order to create significant differences in our lives.

There’s always a balance, though.  As parks and recreation professionals, we may find that some days, we have the time and will to devote a few hours to reading the latest trends in Parks and Recreation magazine.  Other days, we’ve got way too much on our plate to even consider that kind of research.

I’m in that second boat most of the time.  I certainly scour the internet and magazines to find the most pertinent information to our field.   I skim through magazines and find relevant content.  But between the work I do and this passion project, I need to find the most important information as soon as possible.  I need visuals, and I think many of us do.

The field of parks and recreation seems to be lacking in the visual department.  It’s difficult to find high quality videos of our parks, nature centers, and programs.  But in this blog, I’ll find them for you.

I want to offer digestable information.  The kind of information that you can spend a few minutes on, carry about your day, and be able to implement one of those ideas with ease.  I hope this helps you understand a little more about this site.