How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello

Posted July 18, 2017 by Kim in Discussion / 13 Comments

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello

Hi everyone! This post about Trello has been a long time coming. It’s something I’ve wanted to write about for quite awhile now, but I just never made the time. You all know how that goes, right?

Since I started blogging, one of my biggest struggles has been finding a good way to manage my ARCs. First it was Goodreads… then a notebook… then a Google calendar… then a Google doc. I mean, I even used Post-It notes (on the wall of my dining room/office) at one point. Trello is the closest to “perfect” I’ve found so far. What’s Trello? It’s a (free) collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, it tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. (Think of the possibilities for co-bloggers!)

We started using Trello a few months ago at work for project management and I just really took to the tool. It wasn’t long after I really got into it at work that I realized it could very well be the solution I needed for tracking ARCs. I’ve been using it for that for months now and — as long as I remember to log ARCs when I get them — it works just about perfectly.

If you’re looking for a way to organize your ARCs, I urge you to take a look at Trello. It’s free. There’s a phone/tablet app. You can access it from your browser. It syncs everywhere. A word of warning: when you start an account, it’s a total blank slate, which is both awesome and intimidating. That’s exactly why I’m showing you how I use it. It’s good to have somewhere to start, right? So, here goes!

Everything in Trello is organized into boards, lists (which I still call columns sometimes) and cards. The possibilities are endless, but this is what I’ve found works best for me.

My main Trello board

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello - Main Board

(Click the image to enlarge.)

From left to right here I have the following lists: Discussion Post Ideas, To Read, Currently Reading, Read, Early Reviews to Post to Amazon, Completed and DNF. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory. The To Read list on this board holds the current month’s ARCs. (I cycle anything that’s not been read off to an Older ARCs board at the beginning of the new month to keep things fresh and organized.) I move cards from To Read -> Currently Reading -> Read -> Early Reviews or Completed depending so I can keep track of the status of my ARCs. (It’s super satisfying to move those cards from column to column, too.)

The individual cards are probably the most important part of the whole thing here, to be honest. Here’s what I consider my “perfect” card.

The card

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello - The Card

The card in Trello holds all the important info. My “perfect” card contains the following information:

  • Release date and title for the card’s name
  • Book cover for the card’s cover (so I can totally judge a book by said cover when it’s time to start something new)
  • Labels (so I can see, at a glance, where I got a book and even if it has a set date for review)
  • Due date (if applicable)
  • Book synopsis for the description (so I literally don’t have to go to Goodreads or anywhere else before deciding what to read next)

One thing this screenshot doesn’t show is the comments section/thread on the card. I don’t use that a lot right now, but I like that it’s an option. If I use it, it’s generally to note who I need to send a review to, if I need to submit it somewhere other than Edelweiss or NetGalley.

As far as the labels go, I’ve probably redone them about six times. This is my current lineup. It’s working for me, but you could easily customize it for your own purposes.

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello

My Other Trello Boards

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello

There’s no way I could work from just one board, so I create a board for each month’s ARCs. Since I copy them over to my main board once the month starts, I keep this board pretty simple — just To Read and Read lists on these boards.

How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello - The Card

I’ve mentioned a couple times that at the start of a new month I copy over the list from the new month’s board to my main board. I also archive all the cards in my Completed and DNF lists on the main board AND I copy anything unread from the previous month to my Older ARCs board.

I know it sounds like a lot and probably seems a little overwhelming. It’s really not. I mean, once you get it set up anyhow. It doesn’t take me any longer to do this than it did to log everything in a spreadsheet and I’m a heck of a lot more successful using this method.

To make it even easier for you, I’ve created a template board for you to use. Just do me a favor and COPY the board, don’t start putting YOUR cards on this board. (How do you do that? Click on Menu / More / Copy Board to add one to your boards. Then you can customize and add cards until your heart is content.) 🙂

So there it is! That’s how I keep track of everything. It’s not perfect, but it’s working pretty darn well for me. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments! I’m such a nerd about this and I’m happy to answer any questions or help however I can.

Let's Chat

How do YOU organize your ARCs?
Does Trello seem like a good option to you?
Did I leave out any crucial information about how I organize? 

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13 responses to “How I Organize My ARCs Using Trello

  1. This is brilliant and unique! I have been using Trello for home renovation project but this looks like it would be a life saver because I have been struggling to finish ARCs before they are published…or I forget about them. I might try this!

    • Kim

      Thanks! I’m a big fan of Trello. It’s nice to use the same solution for work and blogging. (And even personal stuff on another board.) If you decide to try and have questions, don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

  2. YES! I’ve been using Trello for a few years to organize my ARCs and it’s so easy for me to see what I’m waiting to get when it’s due, the dates I read it and if I submitted a review. Great post!

    • Kim

      If you do and you have questions, let me know. I’ve become our official/unofficial Trello expert at work so I’m happy to answer questions. 🙂

  3. I was using trello to help me organize all the storytimes (I’m a librarian) I was doing. It helped me remember which books I used recently, and if there were any seasonal themes that I wanted to use. I moved to a new library, and am not doing storytimes as much, so I haven’t used it in months. But this seems to be really working for you.

    I purposely try to to get a lot of ARCs because it is pressure, but the ones I do get, I am always reminding myself to read.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Audio Review: Born a Crime by Trevor NoahMy Profile

  4. I did play around with trello a while ago but I couldn’t figure out a system that worked well. I love your system. I think it will work awesome ( i am already using your template board) The only issue is going to be remembering to fill it out.

    • Kim

      That’s great! I’m glad you think this will work for you as well! It’s a life-saver for me some days. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any templates to help you remember to fill it out. Haha. I tend to do it right after I go to Goodreads to log a new addition. If I don’t, chances are I’m missing it.

  5. Yes, I was definitely getting overwhelmed with how complicated it was when you mentioned that point. 😉 You also said that it takes awhile to setup. I wonder how long that was?

    I can say it looks gorgeous and it would be fun to have, I’m just not certain that I can get it created and wondering how much time it will save. But with your template, I’m definitely going to give it a go and see how I can incorporate this, anything that saves time and makes life a bit easier is of interest to me. Thank you!
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