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Using Trello + Butler to track home maintenance tasks

Some Context...

I'm writing this, inspired by the @Jimmy Seddon's awesome Trello, Gaming & Charity (Oh My!) - featuring butler automation!

I work on Trello, and on Butler. I'm an engineer on the team that builds the product.

This isn't about how Trello uses Trello, or how to use Trello for work - this is how I use Trello in my personal life. A lot of the concepts on the board I'm showing also apply to other boards I use daily at work though.

 

Home Maintenance, Trello style

I recently moved from an apartment into a house. With that change, came a lot of little tasks that I previously didn't needed to worry about. Things like:

  • moving the recycling cans out to the street
  • making sure that the roof is not leaking
  • replacing water filters
  • replacing HVAC filters
  • replacing A/C filters
  • cleaning the dryer vent from lint

I needed a way to keep track of all these things, and my brain didn't seem like a good place to try and keep all that stuff!

So here's how I manage these tasks.

If you'd like to see me walk through the board on video, here's a screencast.

Board setup

trello.com_b_y0bn4k0o_home-maintenance.png

At the moment, this board only has one member: me.

Often I try to keep my boards relatively small, so that I can see the whole board on my laptop monitor.

Each task gets a card. Each card has a cadence that the task needs to be completed in. That's determined by the list the card is in.

All the cards have a due date, and the due date indicates when I next need to complete that task.

I also keep track of information related to the task in the description, and in the attachments of the card. For example all those "replace filter" tasks I mentioned? I put the link to the correct type of filter on the card, as an attachment, so next year, when that task comes up, I know which filter I need to order.

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 7.07.07 PM.png

 

Butler automation

 

I use a bunch of Butler automation to keep me on-track, and to help me not forget to do some stuff. Ever forgot to take the recycling out? Yeah, me too! Not anymore though 😄

Rules

There's one rule for each list on this board. Each rule does the same thing: add some number of days to the due date, and mark the due date as incomplete.

This means all I need to do to move the due date, is mark it as complete. I don't need to worry about figuring out what date "Wednesday next week" is; Butler does it for me.

This also works in the mobile app, by the way, so often while I'm taking out the bins, I'll mark the due date complete on my phone!

trello.com_b_y0bn4k0o_home-maintenance (2).png

  • when the due date is marked as complete in a card in list "Weekly", move the due date by 7 days, and mark the due date as incomplete

  • when the due date is marked as complete in a card in list "Monthly", move the due date by 1 months, and mark the due date as incomplete
  • when the due date is marked as complete in a card in list "Quarterly", move the due date by 3 months, and mark the due date as incomplete
  • when the due date is marked as complete in a card in list "Annually", move the due date by 12 months, and mark the due date as incomplete

Due Date Commands

The due date commands on this board are basically reminders.

I have two:

  1. one that sends me an email in the morning, the day before a task is due,
  2. and another that sends me an email in the evening if I've not yet completed the task.


trello.com_b_y0bn4k0o_home-maintenance (1).png

  • 1 days before a card is due, send an email notification to every member on the board with subject "{cardname} needs to be done!" and message "It's time for another house maintenance task: {cardname}"
  • 1 days before a card with an incomplete due date is due at 6:00 pm, send an email notification to every member on the board with subject "{cardname} still hasn't been done!" and message "{cardname} is due tomorrow, and you still didn't do it!"

 

Do you have a similar board? Suggestions for things I missed or could improve? Let me know in the comments!

3 comments

Jimmy Seddon Community Leader Feb 24, 2021

@Felix this is amazing! 

I'm really glad that I could inspire you to share your own personal use case.  I can definitely see where some of the things you are doing here I could & should do myself.  I always forget to check our water softener to see if it needs to be topped up with salt.  This would be a great way to remind me to do it on a regular cadence!

Thanks for sharing!

Like • Felix likes this

Ooo! Didn't know you can put "{cardname}" into an email for replacement. I will have to add that. It' cool to see we both had the same kind of idea ... tackled somewhat differently. Nice implementation. I essentially use labels instead of lists. However, I may play around with turning my labels into lists to more readily see what the frequency of the card should be. I still like having a list with everything that is due and when I drag out of that list the due date is reset. So I will keep that part but you've inspired me to maybe take a hybrid approach. I just need to figure out a convention for making sure I drag the cards back into their original list.

I have been looking for a way to do this for ages now.  This article covers just about everything I wanted to do.  Awesome article!

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