Integrating Trello with Things 3 for team task collaboration

Written by Codemzy on February 6th, 2023

There are no collaboration or list-sharing features with Things 3. But it's a great personal task manager. Here's how we set up a Trello board and automations to use Things 3 with a small team.

I use Things by Cultured Code as my personal task manager of choice. And I love it. I feel totally organised, and have areas for Work, Home and Personal, where I plan projects, schedule reminders, and tick off my daily tasks.

Things is a personal task manager, as in, you can only really use it alone. One account, one person. There are no collaboration features currently. This was fine for me because I mostly work solo. But recently, I started working on a project with a small team. And part of that work involved needed to assign tasks to other members of the team, and knowing what each other was working on.

I did consider using another task manager, but I didn't want tasks in two places or have to move away from Things since I'm really happy with how I have it set up.

So I started wondering how I could still use Things with a team. And, well - it's just not possible (on its own).

Things currently does not have any dedicated collaboration features (working on the same to-dos or lists with other people in real time).

- Cultured Code Things > Sharing a list with family or coworkers

And that's when we decided to add Trello as a layer on top of Things. With the help of Trello, we could use the power of:

  • Trello automations, and
  • Email to Things

Trello Things integration

Trello is a tool that works great for teams. And it has a generous free plan too!

Trello brings all your tasks, teammates, and tools together

- Trello

We considered using Trello to manage all the tasks within the team, but we quickly realised that we don't need (or want) that level of detail for what each team member is doing.

And I didn't want to use Trello as a second task manager... I like having all my tasks neatly organised in Things.

This is the flow we came up with:

  1. We created a Trello board to share ideas, plan work, and add cards for each team member to work on. These cards might be a simple task that could be done in a day, or a larger chunk of work that might repeat or take a few weeks to complete.
  2. We would assign the card to the individual responsible for working on that task.
  3. When the individual was ready to do the work, they would drag the card into the "Doing" list on Trello.
  4. A Trello automation would add the card as a task to their Things Inbox, with a link back to the Trello card where we can add comments and discuss as a team.

In this system, we see Trello as the team dashboard. We know what each person is working on, but not the fine details.

Things remains a personal task manager, where we do the day-to-day work.

Trello for the team management

In Trello, we create a board called, for example, "Project X". That board has the following lists:

  • Ideas πŸ’‘ - This is where we brainstorm future features.
  • Planned 🀝 - This is for ideas we have decided to go ahead with.
  • Doing πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» - This is for cards that are currently being worked on by a member of the team.
  • Pending ⏸️ - This is for work that was started, but has been paused for one reason or another.
  • Done βœ… - This is for work that is completed.
  • Cancelled πŸ™…β€β™€οΈ - This is for ideas or work that will not be going ahead.

In Trello, everyone on the team can see what each other team member is working on, in the "Doing" list.

For example, in Trello, a card might say "Create API documentation", and it's in the "Doing" list, assigned to @Bob. So we know Bob is working on the API documentation. There could be 100+ tasks that Bob is working through, but we don't need to know about that. It's Bob's responsibility.

We can put an estimated completion date on the card if we want to communicate when the task might be completed (if it's a long task), but while it stays in the "Doing" list, we know Bob is actively working on it.

When Bob finishes the API documentation, he can move it to "Done" in Trello, or if someone else needs to review it, he can move it "Pending" and comment to whoever needs to take action next.

Trello automation

When work moves to "Planned" in Trello, we decide who's going to be responsible for it. That could be one person in the team or multiple people. And we assign them to the card.

When someone is ready to work on a card, they move the card to the "Doing" list. Only the person (or people) actively doing the work should be assigned the card. That way a quick glance at the "Doing" list in Trello tells everyone who is doing what.

On the Trello board, select Automation > Rules.

First, create the trigger. The trigger will happen when a card assigned to me is moved to the "Doing" list.

trello automation rule trigger

Then, create the action. This action will send an email to your Mail to Things address with the variable {cardname} as the subject and the message Trello card: {cardlink}.

The reason for including a link to the Trello card in the email is so it gets added to the task description in Things. I can click the link in Things if I need more details, or want to add a comment for the team, or when I'm ready to move it to "Done" or "Pending".

trello automation rule action

The bonus of setting different rules for each user means that if a different user uses a different task manager, you can set a rule to send their cards somewhere else.

Here's how the automation rules look when they are set up in Trello:

trello automation rules

Things for task management

Now, when we move a card to "Doing" in Trello, it quickly appears in our Things Inbox.

In Things, we can organise our tasks, convert tasks into projects, repeat them, and organise them however we need to as individuals, to get the work done.

For example, in Things, the "Create API documentation" task in the Inbox might be converted to a project, moved to the work area, and have 50+ tasks added to it.

The rest of the team doesn't need to know all the daily details of each step, they just know the card is being worked on. They have an overview of who is working on what in Trello. If we have any questions, we can discuss them in the comments.

The person working on it has the power to break the work down into the tasks they need to do, and organise their days, in Things.

Repeating Tasks

If some work repeats, for example, sending out a newsletter, or writing a blog post, I'll pop a πŸ” emoji on the card title in Trello, and handle the repeating task in Things.

This way, the team know the "Monthly Newsletter πŸ”" is something I'm handling, but I can schedule the tasks involved with it in my Things.

If I stop being responsible for it at any stage, I'll assign it to someone else or move it to pending.


The Trello-Things integration was an experiment, but it ended up working so much better than we ever expected. We are planning to continue using this setup for any team projects.

By sending Trello cards as tasks to Things:

  • We have an overview of what each team member is working on in Trello
  • We can break each project up into as many tasks as we like, and organise the tasks to our personal preference in Things
  • We don't get caught up in the little details of each other's daily tasks


There's one major compromise with this "integration" we've created - it only goes one way. When a task is added to the "Doing" list in Trello, and you're assigned to it, you'll get a new task in your Things inbox. But when you check the task off in Things, it won't move the task to the done list in Trello.

It is possible to automate this with iOS shortcuts, but I never went through with it because:

  • It would be a fairly complex shortcut to check if any projects or tasks you complete contain a Trello link, if they do move the card to the "Done" list
  • It would need to be set up on each iOS device where you use Things
  • Some of our projects are repeating and we don't want to mark them as done when one is completed (as we handle the task repeating in Things and not Trello)
  • Some projects are not "Done" when I finish working on them, they might need to switch to another team member or go to "Pending"
  • And what if you added a Trello link to a task in Things referencing another card on another board?

To get a kind of collaboration set up working with Things, heading over to Trello once we finished a major task to move a card to "Done" or "Pending" was a compromise worth making (for our small team). Since we are not tracking small tasks, but rather, larger chunks of work in Trello, this only happens once a day at the most.