Why “Board Velocity” is a Key Factor for Highly Effective (and Motivating) Work in Trello

May 3, 2018 ​- 15 Comments

Trello is a powerful tool for managing your tasks and projects. But unless you use it the right way, working with Trello can feel slow, frustrating and demotivating.

In today's video, we're looking at a key factor that can help you get more out of Trello, whether you're working alone or with a team. What we're diving into today is a psychological factor - it affects how you feel and how motivated you are. And that will have a huge effect on how much work you get done.

Check out the video to learn all about this factor, which I call "Board Velocity".


Notes & Links

  • If this is the first of my Trello related videos you're seeing, make sure to check out part 1 and part 2 as well.
  • If you aren't using Trello yet, you can sign up for a free account here.
  • Learn more about the Card Aging power-up here.
  • When breaking down tasks into smaller chunks, note that you can also link cards together, to keep them organized around an individual project or client. You do this by adding one Trello card to another as an attachment.

More on the Psychology of Board Velocity

A psychological factor that I didn't mention in the video applies the "one day or less" principle: when creating tasks, break them down into chunks that can each be completed in one day or less.

Here's an example: let's say your workday is 8 hours and you have a task that will take "about 2 days" to complete. You're likely going to spend 2 whole days on it and you won't work anywhere near your maximum effectiveness.


Because right from the start, you'll feel like this can't be done in one day anyway, so you won't push hard to finish the task. In fact, you'll find that you work the most effectively in the last 1-2 hours, when the task is almost done and your workday is almost over. Then, you're suddenly motivated to get it over with.

Parkinson's Law comes into full effect: you're more likely to fill 2 entire days with a "more than 1 day" kind of task than to finish it early on day 2.

On the other hand, if you take the same task and you break it down into 4 smaller chunks, you can plan it like this:

Day 1: Complete chunks 1-3.
Day 2: Complete chunk 4 and complete several other small tasks.

As a result, you'll have things that need to be finished on day 1 already. And you might find that you complete all of the tasks in a total of 10 hours instead of 2 whole days. The same amount of work gets done, the quality is the same, but it takes less time because of the way you broke down, planned and "deadlined" your work.

All this results in faster board velocity, which is highly motivating and enjoyable. And as a result of that, you'll be more productive. It's a virtuous cycle!

Get Implementing!

Board velocity is super important so I hope I've managed to convince you of that. It's not something you can simply "switch on", though. It's more like a habit you must develop and strengthen over time.

It is worth doing, so get started right now and if you have questions or get stuck on something, please let me know!

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Hey Shane.

    Very opportune video for me, as have been contemplating using Trello. That said, my question isn’t about Trello, but about your videos: Pray tell, which screencapture video app do you use?

  • Wish Trello allowed at least 2-3 powerups with a free plan. The one power up they allow for free is always used for the calendar vew, so ultimately it’s like having no power ups at all :(
    Otherwise is a great tool, i think its power lies in its simplicity

    • I worked with Trello for years without using any powerups. I think the tool is really useful even without them. :)

  • Karen McCamy says:

    Another helpful lesson about Trello usage and productivity in general!

    I had the “cards getting stuck” problem, and eventually realized it was because I was just developing my system in Trello… Took some analyzing just WHY the cards (tasks) were getting stuck, but I figured it out…

    Developing a system that works for YOU is crucial (in any task management platform), so be patient! :-)

    One note on Trello “power-ups” — there’s a “Gold” Plan ($5USD/month). It’s hard to find on their website, but if you search for it, you can find it… That plan allows 3 “power-ups” and I’ve found I really don’t need more than that… I use Evernote to attach related notes to a card, Google Drive (where I save related Word & Excel files), and Calendar…

    BTW, Shane… After your Trello #2 video, I duplicated your board model and named it: “Bad Ass Like Shane!” Seriously! It keeps me motivated!

      • Karen McCamy says:

        Totally, Joe! ;-) Shane is my inspiration… I can only aspire to be “sorta like Shane” as I do not ever want be more than a solopreneur! ;-p

    • Thank you, Karen! I’m glad to see that you can put my tips from these videos into action.

      And you’re absolutely right: you have to develop and customize the system for yourself. And it’s not a static system, either. It will evolve over time, as your work evolves.

      • Karen+McCamy says:

        Yes, you are SOOO right about evolving processes! I was going to get all “hung-ho” and write down my current processes, then thought better of it as they certainly will change over time! :-)

  • Shane, that’s very useful. We started using Trello because of your series and are getting to grips with it. Anything you have/create on how to better structure projects and use the system more effectively would be useful.

    • Thanks! I’m glad to hear you got started with Trello. I’m sure it will help you get a better grip on your projects.

  • Thanks Shane, you gave me the necessary kick to make my card creation process more conscious of the velocity aspect. Definitely important.

    I like kanbanflow over trello though because it has a pomodore timer build in. Crucial for me to do concentrated work with enough breaks.

    • Thank you for your comment, Demian!

      I’m glad you found this useful. And the same principle definitely works for other kanban-style systems as well. Even post it notes on the wall. :)

  • Shane it really good stuff and easy to get impletated in own way,., please keep the bad ass TRELLO (and more) series come…

    cheers NiceJOnes

  • Kyle Walters says:

    Great Article Shane! Question: Is there a way to have a card, linked to a different board? I have been finding that in breaking down larger projects, it would be nice to have the link-back for reference. Example, if on my personal board, I were working on a piece of website copy, it would be nice if there were also a place where this could take me to the website project board as well.

    Thanks in advance!

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