3 Workflows for Archiving Cards in Trello

Have you ever thought about how to intelligently use the archiving feature in Trello? Do you think there is just one way … clicking ‘Archive’ — and that’s it?

Having the ability of archiving a card is actually great. But many Trello user don’t use this feature much because they are afraid of getting a card out of sight.

This fear is actually unfounded, because with the smart workflows I am introducing here, one can declutter their board from outdated cards — and at the same time keep access to archived cards.

Today I am going to introduce to you 3 different workflows you can use for a smart archiving strategy in Trello.

I tend to focus more on productivity workflows, like I laid out my post on checklists. But a decent housekeeping workflow — that, for instance, includes the act of archiving, can also save you lots of time and lets you see what is really important in a board. In interplay with productivity workflows or housekeeping workflows, a smart archiving strategy can significantly help people in terms of self-organization.

What You Need

All you need is a Trello board that is connected with Butler for Trello (a free account should be fine when just starting out).

And you need to think about what archiving strategy best suits your working style and board.

It certainly does depend on how many cards you have in the board and how often you (should) archive cards.

At a Glance: 3 Workflows for Archiving Cards in Trello

I am going to introduce three different approaches for creating archiving workflows in a Trello board:

(1) A repository board that stores all your archived commands — this would make use of a 2nd board necessary (cross-board workflow)

(2) A repository list that stores links to your archived cards along with a date stamp

(3) A repository card that stores links to your archived cards along with additional information, if you like

Repository Board for Archived Cards

Best to use when you have a very busy board with lots of cards that get archived. Or, you want to collect archived cards from multiple boards and love the idea of seeing what was archived in a structured way.

I have had the idea of creating a repository board for archived cards when I worked on the Workflow Kit for a Project-Master board system (see my website for more information). I wanted to create a web of boards that are tangentially connected. The Master board would be like a dashboard, collecting open/due tasks from several individual boards, whereas the Archive board would store all those tasks that were completed and could be archived.

Here is how it works:

It certainly depends how busy the archive board gets and how often you want to check back on archived cards. I came up with 3 different ways of structuring the archive board.

Option 1: You archive your cards in a monthly list. — A new monthly list is created every month on the first day and placed in position 1 on the board.

Option 2: You archive your cards in weekly lists. — At the beginning of each week, a new list with the week’s number is created and completed cards are moved into this list and stored there.

Over time, you will end up with many lists within this board. That’s when option 3 comes in handy.

Option 3: You archive your cards in weekly lists, which will then be transferred into a monthly list at the end of each week. — Such a setup will significantly reduce the number of lists in a board — but still gives you the convenience to see every week what has been accomplished.

Alternatively, you could make the transfer into a monthly list happening at the end of the month, transferring the cards of all weekly lists into one monthly list. But the command will need attention to details since a new month does not always starts on a Monday.

Repository List for Archived Cards

Best to use when you have quite a busy board, and want to keep the option of seeing when a particular card/task was archived and maybe keep access to it.

I came up with this idea when brainstorming about a new Workflow of the Month that I regularly publish on my Patreon page.

It’s not that you cannot access archived cards. You can.

But it can take some time until you scrolled through the long list of your board’s activities. And I figured it would indeed be nice to have a shortcut in place.

As a starting point, I created a new list that I called ‘Archive’ and set up a repetitive task that creates a monthly card and automatically adds an empty checklist “Monthly Archived Cards” to it.

I then created a command that would add a new checklist item to this list that gets the name of the archived card along with a date stamp.

In a more sophisticated version, I connected the checklist item with the archived card (see image below). This way, one only has to click on the link should there be a need to access the archived card once more.

Checklist item that is linked to the archived card along with a date stamp

I can also think of additional features for this setup.

Let’s say you share a board with a few people, and you would like to see which user has actually archived the card. This information could be appended to the checklist item.

Or, you could add the exact time of when the card was archived.

Or, …

Repository Card for Archived Cards

Best to use within a moderately busy board. There is not too much going on, but you appreciate the opportunity to see what went off.

It is somewhat similar to how the repository list is working.

However, due to a restriction within Butler (you cannot add checklists out of nowhere to a card; it needs to be pre-created and added to the command card), we cannot work with monthly checklists for this card. We’ll use only one instead but will make it obvious which checklist item was added last.

To make this work, we will create a new card “Archived Cards” and manually add a checklist to it. I named this checklist “All Archived Cards”.

With this command, you can actually trigger the setup process of a linked checklist item to the archived card:

I said before, that there is a way to make it more obvious which cards were last archived. This can be achieved by reversing the chronological order of the checklist items. The last added checklist item (=archived card) will be moved to the top position of the checklist. This way, you wouldn’t have to scroll down the entire checklist. You could see at a glance what has happened on the archiving front.

In this example, I am also appending the username to the checklist item.

Of course, a single card in a list can seem like a waste of space in a busy board. But have you ever pondered about a creating a dashboard with several metrics or reminders (e.g., Dashcards) stored in the first list on your board?

Then you may also appreciate the idea of having a card that stores links to your archived cards.

It’s convenient. You’ll save time. And gain control over things you didn’t know you have control over.

Want to learn more? Check out my blog to find more articles on using Butler for Trello.