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E. M. Delafield

The writer E. M. Delafield was born on this day in 1890. To celebrate, I’m launching a new website about her: https://emdelafield.org/.

There’s a bibliography of her published novels and plays, with thematic tags and plot summaries, plus a work-in-progress bibliography of her journalism. I wrote my PhD thesis on Delafield’s fiction, and now I’m embarking on a new biography of her.

Most excitingly, at least to me, I’ve written an index of the Diary of a Provincial Lady, her best-known work. The index uses dates rather than page numbers as locators, so can be used with any edition. It’s been a highly enjoyable project to work on. I’ll write a longer post about the process of indexing the Diary soon.

Writing with a view to indexing

A post for National Indexing Day 2023 that also, efficiently, responds to this week’s LinkedIn for Humans course challenge to share some expertise. I’ve been thinking about this since I saw this Tweet last year:

Can you take steps during the writing process that will make indexing easier? I think you can. Here are seven points to consider, and they will help whether you eventually hire a professional indexer or decide to DIY:

  1. Names. Make sure that names are spelled consistently. This applies especially to transliterated names, which may not have a fixed spelling in English. Choose one version and stick to it. And try to disambiguate identical names clearly. For names that change (eg women’s names, on marriage; people with peerages or honours; places that change their name or cease to exist; organizations that rebrand or merge) you may want to clarify which version you are using.
  2. References. Similarly, ensure your referencing is consistent. The names of authors can vary, often according to referencing style. An author might be known as Sarah Smith, Sarah A. Smith, or S. A. Smith. Make sure it’s clear who you mean in your citations – especially with names like Smith where individuals could be confused.
  3. Titles and headings. Make these meaningful. Do they reflect what that chapter or section is about? Good titles and headings are really useful prompts when indexing – they help indexers get a high-level view of the content before scrutinising the detail. They will also improve your table of contents, which is important metadata for your book. Captions for images or tables should be similarly informative.
  4. Terminology. Use specialist terminology consistently. Are you using near-synonyms in a distinctive way? Does your work cross disciplinary boundaries, and are your terms used differently in those disciplines? If so, it’s worth defining your terms somewhere in the introduction. You don’t need to restrict yourself to using one term for a concept, though, making your writing repetitive – indexers look out for synonym use and construct the index to reflect it.
  5. Notes. When adding material to foot/endnotes, think about whether it would be better placed in the main text. Notes are often identified in indexes, usually in the form 45n20, where 45 is the page number and 20 the note number. Lots of note entries can take up space in your index. If there is a tight page limit – and there often is – then all those ‘n’ entries might squeeze something else out of the index. If your publisher requires an embedded index, adding that little ‘n’ usually has to be done manually at typesetting, which means another thing to check when you get your proofs.
  6. Readers. Related to point 4, think about the likely readers of your book – and likely users of the index, who may be a slightly different group of people. Indexers consider the needs of different groups of readers who may need to access a book, and build the index to make it accessible to them. Are you a literary scholar working on a book that might be of interest to historians? Consideration of their needs during the writing will make it easier to create an index that helps them access your research.
  7. Content and themes. Check that your book (or chapter, or section) is really about what you think it’s about. Try reverse outlining or creating a Word cloud (there are various generators out there) to get an overview of what you’ve actually written. It’s not unusual for a book to appear, ready for indexing, with a word or concept in the title that actually appears very little in the text.

If you decide to commission a professional indexer, here’s some guidance on the process from the Society of Indexers, and my post on the indexing process for academic authors.

Being Perceptive

I’ve been doing the excellent LinkedIn for Humans course from Freelancer Magazine and one of our first challenges was to select some positive qualities we think we have, and then for a fellow student to choose one for us to write about. My top four qualities were Thoughtful, Perceptive, Trustworthy and Helpful and the quality picked for me was Perceptive.

Why do I think I’m perceptive? My Concise Oxford suggests that perceptive people have acute insight and that they acquire this insight through awareness to senses, understanding and memory. For me, perception is often about unspoken meaning; being perceptive means being able to discern implicit, concealed or even inadvertent meanings and messages. Years of looking for subtext during my literary education have sharpened this skill – and so have years of reading the room in university meetings in my old job. In my current job, perception is a vital indexing skill.

What does it mean to be a perceptive indexer? In indexing, we are trying to extract the meaning of the text, its aboutness, and that may not rest solely in the words used by the author. Indexers select the significant explicit terms in a text, of course, but we are also trying to perceive implicit terms and topics. These may not be mentioned fully or at all, but they will be highly relevant to the books and its readers.  We’re also trying to perceive significance. If something is mentioned or implied, how significant is it in the context of the text?

Here’s a made-up paragraph from a nonexistent book with my indexing annotations:

The yellow-highlighted terms are straightforward significant explicit terms to include. The pink-highlighted terms are probably less significant, unless the book has an extensive focus on Georgian glassware: they are passing or minor mentions. The green highlights indicate that I’ve found something implicit: topics whose terms aren’t specified in the text (like sexuality), names that are not stated explicitly (like Eglantine’s husband), events that may be obvious in the context of the book but need a more specific entry in the index (like the nameless war).

Indexers also need to be perceptive about readers. What sort of people will read this book? What are they likely to want to find in the index? And what terms are they likely to use? These may not be the words the author uses. This sort of perception, creating an imaginative empathy with future readers, is one of the most creative and enjoyable parts of indexing for me.

It’s probably also possible to be too perceptive. Thinking perceptively can be tiring, and it can be hard to let your perceptions go. Indexing hints and allusions, especially at the expense of more major topics, can show you’re over-flexing your perceptive muscles. In life as well as indexing, revealing something secret or concealed is not always a popular act. When indexing, I need to be perceptive enough to recognise what I need to leave out.

2022 beyond indexing

In the form of an index, naturally.

allotment: apple harvest excellent  22/09; courgettes disappointing  22/08; mulching, extensive  22/01. See also sheds

Bertie, handsomest cat in the world, RIP  22/09

books, especially enjoyed: Bartlett, Neil, Mr Clive and Mr Page  22/04; Dillard, Annie, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek  22/09; Gale, Patrick, Mother’s Boy  22/04; Howard, Elizabeth Jane, The Cazalet Chronicles  22/08–10; Jarman, Derek, Modern Nature  22/01; Jeffs, Amy, Storyland  22/01; Moore, Wendy, Endell Street  22/11; Patchett, Ann, The Dutch House  22/08; Sayle, Alexei, Stalin Ate My Homework  22/07

cello, attempts to play ‘Send in the Clowns’ on  22/10
cleaning, extensive  22/05, 22/06
COVID, eventual catching of  22/06

decluttering  22/04, 22/05
decorating  22/03

Eclair, Jenny, 60 FFS!  22/02

exhibitions: Ed Clark, Hauser and Wirth  22/04; Eileen Mayo, Towner, Eastbourne  22/05; Helen Frankenthaler, Dulwich Picture Gallery  22/04; Marilyn Stafford, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery  22/03; The Woman in the Window, Dulwich Picture Gallery  22/08

Fascinating Aida  22/06

films, especially enjoyed: Ali & Ava  22/03; Brian and Charles  22/06; Hit the Road  22/06; Living  22/10; Rebel Dykes  22/06; The Souvenir  22/02; The Souvenir: Part II  22/02; Tove  22/06; The Worst Person in the World  22/03

gardens: Chelsea Flower Show  22/05; Leonardslee  22/01; Sussex Prairie Garden  22/07
Gladstone’s Library stay  22/05
gym, return to  22/10

holiday, postponement of  22/09
house, moving  22/11
house, sale agreed  22/06

Kathy, RIP  22/05

Lebowitz, Fran  22/07
Liftoff: Couch to Barbell programme  22/08

Millican, Sarah, Bobby Dazzler  22/12

physiotherapy, works if you do the exercises  22/06
Pink Martini  22/10

redecorating  22/03
restaurants, especially enjoyed: Busby and Wilds, Brighton  22/11; Chilli Pickle, Brighton  22/07; Dishoom, Kings Cross  22/04; Due South, Brighton  22/11; Petit Pois, Brighton  22/06

sheds: construction of new, bigger and better  22/03; destruction of old, in Storm Erica  22/02

TV, especially enjoyed: Better Things  22/08; Gentleman Jack  22/07; Get Back  22/03

walks, long, patchy efforts to resume  22/05
weight training, belated revelatory engagement with  22/08

2022 in indexing

There was not much change in the number of books indexed this year on the last few years – 20 again, including a couple of very long books indeed. I received 44 offers of work, declined 15 of them because of other commitments (or, in one or two cases, because the fee offer was too low). I also had an 80% acceptance rate on the quotes I made. Only one person failed to respond to a quote, although I did have to chase a couple to get a response, a tiresome chore. Where I’m not able to take a job because of lack of availability, I refer the client to a number of relative newbies from the Society of Indexers directory. The directory is still how most of my clients find me, although I’ve also benefitted from referrals from indexing colleagues, and – gratifyingly – I’ve had some repeat clients this year too.

Embedded indexing, mostly in Word, has dominated my workload for the last few years and three-quarters of this year’s projects were embedded, completed using Index-Manager. This is not cheap software but it is extremely useful and has streamlined and improved my embedded indexing considerably – and also my hourly rate. Most of the embedded indexing I do is for authors of scholarly books published by Cambridge University Press and Palgrave Macmillan, and so these authors made up most of my client base again this year. I also did a few projects for self-published authors and very small presses. For author clients and self-published authors, explaining the indexing process clearly is a vital part of my service – it’s been a good discipline for me to have to think about and explain my indexing decisions to these clients.

I also did more trade publishing work in 2022, including three trade books for Penguin Random House and some for smaller presses and self-published authors. Trade presses generally want shorter indexes – academic presses can be much more generous with space – and so increased selectivity and use of cross-referencing rather than double-entry become much more important for the indexing process. In subject area terms, half my projects focused on history, and about a quarter on literary criticism. I indexed three books with a musical focus – two of these were discussing single musical works, and this frame produced some interesting indexing challenges, especially when dealing with the metatopic. Three history books were very biographical in approach, and it was a pleasant task to brush off my German to deal with two big books about Goethe.

The advent of online and hybrid conferences meant that this year I was able to participate in conferences around the world. In May, the online conference run by Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) prompted me to reflect on my indexing workflow. I’m already a systematic user of checklists and templates, but there were some interesting possibilities raised that I’m starting to explore, particularly in relation to editing metatopic entries and the best time to index the introduction to a book – which might be at the end rather than the beginning. A session on online security sent me scurrying to sort out a password manager – I’m now happily using 1Password.

In October, the triennial International Indexing Conference was held in Berlin. I’d hoped to attend in person but an imminent house move made that unworkable. As it was a hybrid event, I could still take part via Zoom, and in fact also acted as a moderator for the online audience too. This conference helped me reflect on my mediating role between the text, the author and the reader, and the ongoing importance of lists and ordering as we make sense of the modern world. I also managed a number of online and in-person meetings with my Society of Indexers colleagues, which were highly enjoyable. My commitments to SI have increased – I’m now on the Executive Board with responsibility for marketing, which I hope will have a symbiotic influence on my own professional marketing.

Moving house while freelancing was an interesting experience. I did manage to create a couple of free weeks in the month before we moved, which soon filled up with tidying, decluttering and general sorting out, but the move came in the middle of a large project. Thankfully the book was a collection of short discrete chapters, and could be fairly easily put down and picked up again. Ideally, I would have taken more time off around the move itself, but the disruption was manageable. My workspace in the new house is still makeshift, but indexing doesn’t need a lot of equipment, and I’ve found my indexing reference books among the boxes. I’m looking forward to sorting out my working environment in 2023.

2020 in indexing

During 2020 I indexed 20 books, a slight increase on my total in 2019.  That’s about 7,300 pages or 1.8 million words indexed – there were a few very long books on my schedule this year.  Of these, 12 were embedded indexing projects (10 in Word and 2 in InDesign) and the rest were standard indexes compiled from page proofs.  I received 42 offers of work over the year; I declined 12 of these, mostly because I was booked up with other work, but sometimes because the fee offered was too low.  4 potential clients went elsewhere for their indexing and 3 – rather rudely – never responded at all.
As in the last two years of indexing, most of my work (15 of my 20 projects) was done working directly with the author of the book as the client.  4 jobs came via a packager, and 2 directly from the publisher.  My author clients generally find me via the Society of Indexers Professional Directory, although I have also have – gratifyingly – been recommended to authors by previous clients now.  One client (who wrote a highly enjoyable book) was referred to me by a fellow Society of Indexers member.
Most of my work was, again, done on academic publications.  I enjoy working on these books – they always present some interesting challenges and teach me something new – and I also enjoy working with academic writers.  It was, however, good to shift perspective a little this year and do some indexing of textbooks and handbooks, which require a different approach as much more structured, more heavily illustrated texts.
Another interesting process was indexing my partner Catherine Pope’s book How to Finish Your PhD, which she published herself.  I’d read various drafts of the book during its development, and proofread it too, so was very familiar with the text when I came to index it.  I did the indexing in the Word version using Index-Manager, but reviewed it in InDesign once the print version had been typeset.  This let me put back in the things that InDesign takes out when you import a Word index, useful things like page spans and italicisation.  I was also able to review the eBook index in Jutoh, although there was much less I could do here as the Jutoh indexing function is very simple and cannot, for example, accommodate page spans.  I knew this when I started indexing the book, so did bear this in mind when deciding where to use spans in the index.  Having done this book, I now always make sure any spans are anchored at the start of the span.  It’s easier to then restore the span in InDesign, and in the eBook at least the index links to the very start of the section.
I started using Index-Manager in March, taking advantage of the two-week trial to experiment with it, and liked it so much I bought an annual subscription.  It’s a highly useful indexing package that takes a lot of the pain out of embedded indexing and has certainly made me much faster.  I doubt I’d have been able to index a 200,000 word academic text with a fairly short turnaround time without it.  I miss some of the functions from Sky, especially the labels and the error scan, although there are ways of replicating some of the label functions in Index-Manager.  I’ve been able to participate in some of the free webinars on Index-Manager, although there are still things it can do that I want to explore more fully.  Wendy Baskett’s SIdelights article (October 2020 pp13-15, SI members only) on managing cross-references in Index-Manager was invaluable.
Society of Indexers meetings were, of course, restricted to Zoom this year – both for my local group and for the Society as a whole.  It was lovely to see everyone’s faces at the Zoom AGM and the local Zoom meetings have been great too.
Other professional development this year included the Society of Indexers Active Indexing online workshop, a self-study workshop that gives an overview of eBook publishing and how eBook indexes work.  This filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge in this area and gave me a very confident start when indexing Catherine’s book.  I also took an American Society of Indexers webinar on Business Strategies for Indexers by Sergey Lobachev which was helpful in focusing my mind on how I want my indexing practice to develop and how I can influence this.  I also learned a number of useful things as I went along:
    • it’s worth making a spreadsheet of chapters and their page or word count, and using these to estimate work time and track progress, particularly when working on very long projects
    • batching tasks, especially name checking and error reviews, can save quite a lot of time rather than doing it as you go, unless you have do to it for disambiguation reasons
    • it’s useful to get a sample of the work at the quotation stage, particularly for books that will need quite a lot of checking and research.  I’d stopped doing this routinely and had a couple of books that needed a lot of checking and verification to make sure I had the names right.  I’d still have taken the work, but the additional tasks might have affected my quote – and understanding this would have helped me plan each job better.
I felt the direct impact of the pandemic much less than other parts of the workforce.  Indexers already work from home, mostly alone, and deal with their clients over email, so there was no change there, and as discussed above, there was no decrease in work or enquiries.  There were some slippages in publication schedules that did affect my work but not much more than usual. However, like everyone else, I dealt with the indirect emotional impacts; anxiety, distraction, confusion, anger and grief.    The cognitive load of coping with a pandemic meant that sometimes sitting at my desk and getting through my indexing was a challenge.  And I’ve been very aware that most of the authors I’ve worked with this year have been finishing their books under the same circumstances.  Canadian editor and indexer Iva Cheung’s latest cartoon, Pandemic Brain, was particularly resonant.  Overall, I’m grateful to have had a healthy year, to have written indexes that satisfied me and my clients, and to have had interesting work that kept going even when the world seemed to come almost to a stop.
Goals for 2021 seem a bit hubristic at the moment, but one thing I’m definitely planning to do is to refer more indexing work to my SI colleagues who are just starting out.

Time blocking

In my post on time tracking, I explain how recording and analysing how I was using my time brought up some questions.  Was I using my time productively and efficiently? To address this, I combined two well-known time management and planning techniques: time blocking and bullet journalling.

Time blocking, popularised by Cal Newport, has been quite successful for me.  The idea is to divide your day into blocks of time – half an hour is probably the shortest useful unit – and, at the start of the day allocate those blocks to the things you want or need to do.  You build in contingency time – because estimating how long tasks will take is a tricky business – and time for reactive work, so responding to queries, emails, dealing with problems that arise during the day.    You plan for every minute of your day, including breaks.  This works well, in my experience, because you’ve created a definitive schedule at the start of your day – you don’t need to keep deciding what to do next.  And because you’ve divided things up into blocks, you can swap them around if things change.

I combine this with my bullet journal. (Researching bullet journals is a remarkable time sink; here’s the original site that explains the method). Essentially, it’s a list-based paper diary where you track your tasks, goals and events and schedule them.  My daily plan includes my time blocking. My handwriting is barely legible so I’ve mocked up an example of a bullet journal page in Word:

 

On the right is the bulleted list of things I want or need to do that day.  On the left is a column setting out when I’m going to do them, with breaks built in.  I’ve got some contingency time there, and my reactive time is the hour allocated to emails – which is how all my work queries manifest. I check my emails more often than that, but I try to deal with responding to them in one go, usually in the afternoon. In this example, I’ve got an unexpected request to Skype with a client, and indexing Chapter 8 has taken longer than I thought, so I’ve had to move things around in my afternoon schedule. My contingency time has been used up, and dinner preparation will have to be a bit more cursory as a result.  At the end of the day, I check off anything I’ve managed to do from my list, and reschedule uncompleted tasks to the next day.

I like the analog aspect of this method; there are no pesky notifications annoying me, no crashing or data loss. The bullet journal principle of writing things down iteratively both helps me remember stuff, and also makes me think hard about my priorities.  There’s also a nice ritual quality to it. Currently, I take my bullet journal to one of Brighton’s many cafés on a Monday morning, and sort out my plans for the week, which is a pleasant way to be intentional about using my time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time tracking

In 2017, I moved from having a full-time job in higher education to working full-time as a freelance indexer.  Suddenly, my time was my own to dispose of.  There were no core hours or endless meetings; I could suit myself.  But I wanted to make sure I was using this new freedom effectively.

To that end, I’ve repeated a time tracking exercise a few times since I went freelance.  The point of this is to find out how you are actually spending your time.  You do this by recording, at fifteen-minute intervals, what you are doing – it’s easiest to do this by identifying a range of categories, and allocating each fifteen-minute segment to the right category.  I made myself a spreadsheet, because that is the sort of thing I like doing. The last time I did this was in early summer 2019, and my results looked like this:

Time tracker spreadsheet in full

Each coloured block represents fifteen minutes, and links to a particular activity or group activity.  I ran my working day from 8 to 6, the times when I’m up and about and ought to be making the most of my time.

The summary breakdown looked like this:

I was broadly happy with the amount of time I spent indexing that week.  Admin and time spent at the gym or walking were also quite good amounts, and I got a good bit of reading in.  I put writing on the list because I want to do more of it, and I did actually do some – the observer effect in operation.  The amount of time spent on domestic stuff and shopping was concerning – I did not go freelance so I could become a house elf.  Most of all, though, I needed to address the 11 hours that I couldn’t really account for and attributed to Other.  Some of this was mealtimes – I would probably categorise this separately if I repeated this exercise – but I suspect a lot of this was faffing about not doing very much and luxuriating in my new freedoms.

Having got my data, I then needed to work out how to address these problems – I discuss this in my post on time blocking.

If you’d like to try the time tracking experiment for yourself, here’s the link to a version of the spreadsheet on Google Drive.  You can download a copy to use in Excel.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/11rwLs5LE2hlgijI0j3nAXy4pp3iKW3zU/view?usp=sharing

You can set up your own categories for key activities.  Or you could just use a pencil and paper.

Using Trello to track your indexing work

I’ve experimented with various ways of keeping track of indexing projects since I went freelance, and my favourite so far is Trello.  Trello is a project management system that works, essentially, like the Kanban method, using cards and columns.  On Trello, you can set up a board for a project, or group of projects.  Tasks or sub-projects are tracked using cards, which you move across lists that you have defined, tracking your progress with your work as you go.  I like Trello because it provides a very visual overview of my work in progress and where all the projects currently are.  Trello is free to use, although there is a subscription model, Business Class, that gives you more apps and features.

Getting started with Trello

Go to trello.com and set up an account.  Trello encourages sharing among its members, and consequently your name, initials, username and avatar are always public, so you may want to be pseudonymous here.   Your email won’t be made public.  You can then set up your first board, choosing the background, colour scheme and columns.

You also need to decide whether your board should be public or not.  Given that some of us need to sign NDAs for indexing work, you’ll probably want to make it private.  You can share your boards with others even if they are private, and set appropriate permissions for what they can and can’t change.  I have mine shared with my partner as part of my disaster recovery plan.

You can control your board by clicking on the Menu button at the far right of the screen, which gives you options for modifying the board’s appearance, permission settings and so on.

My Trello indexing board

 

 

 

 

This is my current board, with upcoming and in progress book titles redacted. I have six lists on my indexing board:

  1. Upcoming projects: once I’ve agreed to do a new project, this is where I add its card.  The cards are roughly in the order in which I expect to do the work, and you can easily drag the cards around to re-order them.  At the top of this list are two template cards for embedded and standard indexing projects.  I’ll talk more about these below.
  2. Indexing: once I’ve received the proofs and am working on the index, I move the card to this column.
  3. With client for approval: the card is moved here once I’ve returned the index and am waiting for, or dealing with, any feedback or queries.
  4. Invoicing: once I’ve sent the invoice, I move the card here
  5. Social media: I try to tweet about most of the books I index and so once I’ve been paid, and I’m waiting for the book to be published, I move the card here.  This is also where the card sits while I’m updating my website and Society of Indexers profile with details of the project.  Once all the relevant tasks for the project have been done, I archive the card.
  6. Other: this is a column for cards that relate to other activities with a significant time commitment, like conferences and holidays.  I have this column to get these activities into my Gantt chart, of which more in a later post.

You can have as many lists as you like, if it’s helpful to break down your indexing workflow into more stages.

Using Trello cards

I make a single card for each index, which captures key information about the project and includes a checklist and key deadlines.  When I’ve committed to a new project, I copy one of the two template cards (embedded and standard) to make a new card for that project.  Here’s my the top part of my template card for a standard book index:

 

The title and description fields and the buttons on the right are default items.   The title is always the title of the book.  I use the description field for summary information about the project, the client, and the relevant deadlines.  The due date button I use in various ways at different stages of the project:

  • before the work arrives, for the date the proofs should reach me
  • once it has arrived, the deadline for the index to reach the client
  • once I have invoiced, the due date for payment
  • and finally, for the date of publication so I can tweet about the book.

You can use various Trello power-ups (see below) to synchronise deadlines with your online calendar and get reminders.  I’ll talk in a later post about using the TeamGantt power-up to create a Gantt chart from my Trello board.

The other Add to Card buttons work as follows:

  • Members – for allocation of tasks to team members, and not relevant for the solo indexer
  • Labels–  adds a coloured label to your card.  This might be useful if you want to flag up all projects for a particular client, for example.
  • Checklists – see below
  • Attachments – lets you attach files to the card.  I don’t use this, as it seems like extra effort for no particular benefit – my proofs, indexes, invoices and so on are stored securely elsewhere, and I don’t need to share them.  It’s also not helpful for data protection to have files with client information saved in multiple places.  However, for any shared projects, this would be very helpful.  You can also use this function to attach a link to your card, which seems more potentially useful.
Using checklists

Here is my current checklist for a standard indexing project:

To add a checklist, you need to click on the checklist button and add your items.  It’s easy to modify checklists for specific projects that might need some further items – you need to add new items at the bottom, and click and drag them to re-order.  Each card displays your progress against your checklist as a score, so you can easily see if you have uncompleted tasks on a particular project.

If a checklist item is getting complicated and unwieldy, you can convert it into a card, and give its own checklist and deadline.

Power-ups and action buttons

The power-up button allows you to add an additional app or function to your board – there are lots of different .  The free version of Trello only allows you to have one power-up at a time.  I currently use this for TeamGantt, of which more in a later post.

The action buttons work as follows:

  • Move – move the card to a different list.  You can also click and drag each card around the board.
  • Copy – creates a copy of the card in the list you choose, with a new title
  • Watch -this will alert you when anyone else changes the card.  Again, not useful for solo freelancers.
  • Archive – clicking on this will archive your card, so it’s not visible on the board.  It’s not deleted, and you can search for and see archived cards if you need to.
  • Share – will send a link to the individual card to another person.  Again, not really useful if you’re working on your own.
Comments and activity log

The Comment box allows you to make notes about your project.  I have used this for my project notes and queries, but currently I prefer the notetaking app Evernote for this.  Comments can be edited and deleted as necessary.   You can also share comments or add attachments and other cards to them, which is probably most useful in a team setting.

The activity log records everything you do to the card, with a timestamp.  This is most useful for shared projects, and for a lone freelancer it’s probably less irritating to simply hide this by clicking the Hide Details button.

Phone app

Trello probably works best as a website, but the phone/tablet app (Android and Apple) is useful for keeping track of what you’ve got going on – and especially useful when you get offers of work while you’re on holiday, which always seems to happen to me.  You can also get reminder notifications through the app.

I like Trello so much I use it for other, non-indexing projects, and it’s the best way I’ve found of keeping an accessible list of books I plan to read.  There are hundreds of public boards that you can look at for ideas of how to use Trello via https://blog.trello.com/.