I have recently read Getting Things Done, which is both the name of a book and the productivity system it proposes. In essence, the philosophy behind GTD is:
You need a trusted system outside of your own head for collecting, processing, organising and deciding on things that need to be done to avoid these things taking up any of your mental energy.
The entire GTD methodology can be summarised in this chart from the Cotsco Connection magazine. The idea behind GTD is to be implementation-agnostic. In theory it should be possible to implement GTD using pen and paper or by using software.
For me, Trello works brilliantly as a GTD system, together with the Trello iPhone and iPad apps. Trello gives you boards, each consisting of one or more lists, and each list containing a bunch of cards.
I have three default boards: @Actions, @Ideas and @Projects (the ‘@’ characters makes the board always stick to the top, so it’s easy to access).
The @Actions board contain a list called ‘Inbox’ for collecting stuff. It also contains contextual lists (e.g. ‘Shop’) for collecting next actions for specific contexts (e.g. ‘buy margarine’). This way I can easily access different contexts based on my physical location.
The @Project board contains all the projects that have an extremely deterministic set of steps to complete. Reading a book is one example of this kind of project: each chapter will be a definite step, and once you’ve read all the chapters you can safely assume that the project is done.
Every other kind of project (which would be the majority I think), get its own board. This way you can create lists and cards particular to the project. Another bonus is that you can invite other people to the project (collaboration ensues).
One last trick is to assign yourself to any cards that need immediate attention (that is, those actions which are the next step). When you do this you get a consolidated view of all your ‘next actions’ at http://www.trello.com/yourusername/cards.
I’ve only been doing this for about two months, but I’m already observing a huge increase in my productivity.