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Keeping Yourself Organized Using Trello with Bearj Jahanian
We’re working on a series of interviews to talk about some important tools that people are using to help them to take back time. That means they’re using these tools so that they can be more efficient and effective in what they’re doing. I have Bearj Jehanian here with us. Bearj, you were on the show before. We were talking about Break Down the Walls. That’s your book and your platform for your speaking.
Break Down the Walls was a success.
I said to people, “I want to know what tools you’re using and have you on the show and talk about how you’re using it.” You picked Trello as a tool. It’s a valuable tool for yourself. Tell us the context and how you use it.
Before I tell you how I use it and why I use Trello, I need to start off with this. I am one of the world’s worst organizers.
How bad are you?
I am so bad that I need people organizing behind me. I’m like the pig pen of organizers.
You need people scurrying behind you.
That’s what I need. I’m one of those people that walks into a room, I had something on my hand, put it down, I didn’t even know I’ve put it down and then I’m looking all over the place for it for the rest of the day. That’s me. I was always looking for something that could get me clear with what I was doing all the time and get my processes in order. Someone showed me this system that she had. It’s a 3×5 card system. She’d get one of those 3×5 card containers. She set it up by month. She knew what she had to do each day and she used that. I said, “That’s clever. I like that.” I did that, but I hated getting the 3×5 cards. I’d never moved them to the right place. They didn’t do the right things with them. It drove me crazy. Another friend of mine said, “I love using a whiteboard.” I thought, “That’s a great idea because I can put this whiteboard up on the wall and that’ll help me to stay organized.” Maybe a to-do list for the day and the big projects and things like that.
I did that for a while, but then I got tired of using the whiteboard. I didn’t want to erase it. I erase it, then I have to do the whole thing over again. I didn’t like that. A friend of mine introduced me to Trello. Trello is a combination of those two things. It operates like a whiteboard, but it’s also like a little filing cabinet. There are some other tools out there that are similar, but I felt that Trello was easy to use and easy to understand. You can use it in conjunction with other people. You can add them, subtract them. You can segment it with who you want to share things with. You can create big projects, small projects. You can create to-do lists. You can upload pictures. If you’ve got the app on your phone, if you take a picture of something, when you open Trello, it says, “Do you want to use the last photo you took?” It literally knows intuitively that you probably took that picture because you want to use it in Trello.
It’s even simple enough for the biggest what did you call yourself?
The biggest pig pen of organization known to mankind. That’s me.
If Trello meets your test, it’s pretty good.
The thing is I’m smoke and mirrors. Most people think I’m the most organized person in the world. I’m not. I have tools that helped me to be organized. My dad was an electrician. He had tools when he worked. If he didn’t have the tools, he couldn’t do his job. He would look like he was the worst electrician in the world if he had no tools.
We need structures. Those tools come in the form of structures. You said something funny, people think that you’re organized. People say the same thing about me. They’re like, “You should work with companies on how to better organize their processes.” I was like, “No, I hate that stuff.” I’m like, “I do it because I have to do it. I do it because it’s a matter of success.” It’s not something that I love to do. It is something that we have to find when we create structures for ourselves. That’s why I do like things like mind maps and stuff like that. I haven’t tried Trello so I’m interested in trying it out. Did you try other tools? Other than the more physical ones, did you try other online apps?
I did. For me, at least, they were a little complicated. Not that I couldn’t do them, but they seemed a little bit too complicated to make it easy for me to use.
When they’re complicated, then we don’t follow through. If you’ve got to move something from here to here and that’s more complicated to you, then you’re not going to do it.
The reality is everyone thinks in a different way. Everyone organizes things in their mind in a different way. You’ve got to find something that aligns with how you think. I’m a picture thinker. I’m a very visual thinker. Trello is a very visual tool. That’s why I think it resonates with me a lot.
Tell us then how are you specifically using it and what problems is it solving for you other than a general organization or is that mainly it?
Everyone organizes things in their mind in a different way. You’ve got to find something that aligns with how you think. Click To Tweet Mainly I use it for general organization. If there are things that I know I need to do, maybe there’s a timeline to it or there’s a certain date that I need to take care of certain things, I’ll put that in Trello. I created a lot of lists in Trello for myself.
It’s like a to-do list for you?
It’s a to-do list. I also use it as a way to put down ideas. I’ve got projects that I want ideas for. I’ll list all the ideas there so they’re not on these little pieces of notepaper around my desk and one of these yellow legal pads. Which page is it on? Which pad is it on? I have seven pads. It’s on the nineteenth page of the third pad, who remembers that? I can go to my Trello board and I give the boards names. I know exactly where to find everything, names, colors, backgrounds, whatever you want to do with it. It has made everything so much easier. When I want to create something, I can take a board and put all of my ideas. I can even categorize the ideas with Trello.
It makes it so easy to do because it’s visual. It’s obvious when I look at it. To me, it works so well. Everyone I’ve had to try it out, most people go kicking and screaming because they love their thing. I said, “Look at this. Give it a shot.” Almost every single person has said, “That’s easy to use. I like that.” It’s a big help. For example, in my mastermind group, we have goals that we assign to each other for accountability each week. We use Trello. Every person has their own board on that Trello. We can see each other’s goals and tick them off and add new ones for the following week. It’s easy to share with the team.
What about planning? You said you use it for to-do lists. You use it for idea capture. Do you use it for planning as well?
You could absolutely do that because you can set it up for goal setting. You can put achievements on there. You can do it however you want to set Trello up. You can make it do almost anything.
Can you have it into your calendar with dates and things like that?
That may be possible. I don’t use the paid version of it. The paid version of it may have things like that. I don’t know the answer to that question. There is a free version. You could tell I’m getting a lot of value out of the free version.
What they’re looking for is the people who get a lot of value and they see that they get even more value with some of those extra features. What would you say is the feature that you use the most? Is it the list?
Probably for me, the thing I do the most frequently are two things. Number one is creating a list for myself for things that I need to do the next day so that I can make sure I get done. I’m the person who I got the shiny object over here and the squirrels are over there and I’m not sure where to go. The other thing I do is for creativity ideas. I start listing all the ideas and it helps me to map that out for myself.
I interviewed David Allen and he’s got the system of getting things done. His main thing is he’s saying get it out of here and put it in those lists and those captures. It sounds like it would be a great tool for people who are using that method, getting things done that they would have the structure within there to be able to support them.
That’s one of the things I like about it. It’s important I think for people to get this concept because when you get the stuff out of your head, you get it written down somewhere rather it’s on a piece of paper or in Trello or some other tool that you want to use. It helps you to sleep better at night because you’re not thinking of what you need to do the next day. You’ve already mapped that out for yourself. It helps you to get sleep that night. Entrepreneurs and people who own businesses need to be able to get good sleep.
It is interrupting your sleep. David Allen was talking about that as well. It’s not just sleep specifically but a mind like water. When you’re able to take those ideas and put them out on paper, it doesn’t create an open loop in your mind where you have to come back to it. You know that it’s there and that you can access it when you need to. You don’t have to worry about the recall and be reminded because it’s already set up in a system for you. It’s super powerful because then you can put all that energy into whatever it is that you’re currently doing. Also, you can be more creative and access more creativity.
I expect the next time you interview David Allen that you’ll be telling him the things that you talked to me about.
I will, “Bearj Jehanian was talking about Trello and you should check it out.” If you had to put a figure on it, how much more productive do you feel like you are now that you’re using Trello?
I would say it makes me anywhere between one to four times more productive based on how much I lean on it. If I lean on it, I know exactly what I’m doing that day. If I don’t, it slows me down. I would say one to four times more productive, which is a lot.
I hear that a lot when people have these tools and they are passionate enough to come on the show and talk about how this tool has benefited them. They typically do have that lift. I want people who are reading to appreciate that it is possible to get that kind of lift.
Think about it this way, Penny. If you had to dig a hole, if you had a shovel, you would dig it fast. If you had to do it with your hands, it would take forever. It exponentially grows the time you can spend on the things that matter.
Entrepreneurs and people who own businesses need to be able to get good sleep. Click To Tweet It’s having the right tool to support you so that you can take back time to get it.
That’s what I meant by the shovel but that’s okay.
I’m talking to you more and more here and keeping the conversation with more awesome analogies. One to four lifts in your productivity is amazing. What would you say is the biggest shift in your behavior?
The biggest shift in behavior for me, because I use Trello, is I take that time to sit down and organize what I’m doing and get my thoughts put someplace instead of walking around and let them bounce around in my head.
It’s specific and you get clarity.
I end up being more creative because you take the junk out of your head, you’ve got more room for other junk. Not that it’s junk, but you get my point.
We have to change our behavior so we can use a tool. What behavior did you have to change in order to be consistent in using the tool? That’s the number one thing that people are challenged with is there are a ton of tools out there and they all work. We all think differently so one tool might be better for me than the other. They all work. The problem is we don’t implement them and we don’t use them consistently. It comes down to our behavior.
There are two things I want to say to that. First of all, you need to know how to use the tool because if you don’t know how to use the tool, it’s unlikely that you will continue to use it because they’ll feel that you’re not getting any benefit from it. It’s important that you learn that.
How much time did you invest in learning the tool?
I got it right away. Trello and I, we had a good relationship right away. We saw eye to eye. We were meant for each other.
What does that mean, an hour to four hours?
I would say several different uses. I got it right away. It took a little bit of time to make it easy to use and then to recognize what some of the other features were that were available to me. I got it right away. You’ve got to invest some time into things so that you understand how to use it. I had a kid when I was teaching high school band. He played the bass clarinet. There was a post that comes out of the bass clarinet at the bottom to adjust the height. He wasn’t using it. He would lean it on his foot. I explained to him that it was going to hurt his foot if he kept doing it that way. I taught him how to extend the posts and lock it in position. Our next rehearsal, I looked over and saw he had done that but he’s had the posts resting on his foot. It’s important that you know how to use the tool. Once you know how to use the tool, you need to know how to use it the right way. If you don’t do those things, you still end up with the same bad result, which is a hurt foot.
There’s another analogy, another good story. The reason I asked you that is that many people don’t give enough time to learn the tool. I know that I’m guilty. Anything that comes with some book on how to use it, I throw it away. I dive in and I build the thing or I use it. I find that I have to go back. I am getting smarter. I am starting to search the videos on YouTube first. It’s key that people block time specifically for learning the tool before they implement it for themselves.
I’ll ask a question and my mother always asked me because people will have this objection with time. My mother’s question to me was always, “If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when will you find the time to do it right the second time?” The point is to get it done right the first time. A lot of times we rush through something because we don’t feel we have the time and we ended up spending more time on it. Take back your time and invest some time. Do that and realize it’s going to cost you a little bit of time upfront, but you’re going to gain so much more on the backend.
That’s the whole point. That’s a great statement what your mom said. It’s important and that’s why I wanted to highlight that. You said there were two things. The first thing was to understand how to use it.
The first thing was to set aside the time to use it. It’s not just how, but you have to sit down and say, “I’m going to use this tool. The purpose of this tool is to get me organized.” You could either say it’s going to get you organized for the day or it’s going to get you organized for the next day. One is the first thing in the morning, one is the last thing that you do at the end of the day. It’s up to you which way works better for you. Personally, I like at the end of the day, not at nighttime before you go to bed because it gets your mind racing too much. At the end of your work day to put or even better yet, if you have the ability to do it as things come to add it there. It’s an app online and you can leave it on your phone or up on your screen. As things come up, you can add things to it however it works for you, but you’ve got to absolutely put the time aside to use it and dedicate yourself to that.
I like what you’re saying with creating a system, whether it means the same time every day, whatever time that is or whatever method it is. After you finish a block of time, then you can go in and do it. Systems support us. It makes things easier for us when we create these systems for ourselves. Was there anything else that you wanted to share about Trello, the tool or something exciting that you’ve got coming up that you want to share with the readers?
Can I tell people about my book?
Once you know how to use the tool, you need to know how to use it the right way. Click To Tweet Tell us about your book. Tell us where people can get it because not only did they hear about your experience with Trello, but they also hear that you’re a pretty awesome guy. They’d like to hear more about what you have set.
I have a book called Break Down the Walls to Success. It’s 31 simple steps to transform your life and your business into what you deserve. It’s a simple book. You can literally read a chapter a day. They’re not long chapters. It’s intentionally short. You have time to achieve things. I’m not looking for fluff to fill in there. It’s direct and to the point with each chapter. You can get it either by going to SuccessBook31.com or you can look it up on Amazon and get it there.
Bearj, thank you so much for being here. As always, I love having you on the show.
Thank you. I love being on here. It’s a lot of fun.
Thank you all for being here because you took your time and energy to invest in learning about some great tools. You took away a few nuggets. How are you going to apply it? Go out and get the free version of Trello. Check it out. Even if you’re already using something, there could be a possible lift here. Bearj is saying that everybody else who’s tried it has seen the benefit, so check it out. It’s going to help you to take back time.
- Bearj Jehanian
- Break Down the Walls
- Break Down the Walls – Previous episode
- David Allen – Previous episode
- Break Down the Walls to Success on Amazon
About Bearj Jehanian
Jack Canfield, Co-Creator of the #1 Best-Selling Book Series Chicken Soup for the Soul® & The New York Times Best-Seller, The Success Principles says: “Bearj is More Than a Motivational Speaker, He’s a Transformational Speaker!”
Dynamic, Exciting and Engaging, Bearj discovered his unique style of motivating and empowering others while leading young people, parents, and educators as a high school band director, using music as the vehicle to inspire the students in his high-powered band program to achieve lofty goals.