Creating Workflows in Trello that Involve Checklists

Building workflows that involve checklists are very attractive to Trello users. Why? Because with Butler for Trello one can unlock features that aren’t available when using Trello alone.

Today I want to show you some workflow ideas that involve checklists in Trello.

Generally, there are two possible directions to take.

  1. Creating cards from checklists
  2. Creating checklists with checklist items from cards

Automatically Convert Checklist Items into Cards

There can be numerous reasons why you would want to create cards from checklist items.

Checklists are great for its ability to check off tasks from a list.

But what, if you would want to add some remarks (comments) to a checklist item? — You can’t.
What, if you would want to add a due date to a checklist item? — You can’t.
What, if you would want to add a resource to a checklist item, like a URL or a PDF? — You can’t.
What, if you would want to collaborate on a checklist item task and invite someone to work with you? — You can’t.

All this, however, becomes possible when you create a card from the checklist item.

Here’s the basic command for that:

You can also link the checklist item and the newly created card together, which would make it more convenient to click “through”. When doing so, the checklist item is replaced with a link to the newly created card.

Further, it’s a good practice to determine where exactly you would want the new card to be placed. You can place it into a specific list. Or, you could place it into a certain list on a different board. On top of that, you can have it moved to the top or bottom position of this list. Here’s an example command for that:

When a checklist item is added to checklist “XXX” in card “YYY”, convert the item into a linked card and move the card to the top of list “ZZZ”

I think you get the idea.

By creating a card from a single checklist item, you can then do all the things you can normally do within a card. And, when you choose to link checklist item and a card to each other, you can set up a command that checks off the checklist item when the card is marked as complete.

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Automatically Convert Cards into Checklist Items

Converting cards into checklist items is a very different routine, and you may be wondering why someone would want to do this.

Maybe, this way is less common. Or at least, it looks less intuitive. — Because, why would someone want to do such a thing?

The answer is, you can use a checklist as a condensed view of cards with a certain condition.

For instance, you could have a checklist created each day, that stores all the tasks 
 • that have become overdue that due, or
 • that were marked “For Review”, or
 • that were finished on each single day

Of course, it always depends on how to embed that into a bigger picture.
When you have a dashboard that collects tasks from several of your boards (speaking of cross-board functionality), such a checklist would come in handy, indeed.

The secret is, you need to find a way for you to make it work. Something that fits into your processes and working style.

Before I dive into the conversion of checklist items into cards, I quickly want to discuss various options for setting up its container: the checklist.

As you may know, in Trello, a checklist item cannot exist on its own. You need to have a checklist set up beforehand in order to create a checklist item.

Daily Dynamic Checklist

If you would want to see a daily listing of your cards with the trigger of your choice (e.g., overdue, “For Review”, “completed”, etc.), you need a command that adds this daily checklist to the respective card.

This command adds an empty checklist with the day’s timestamp to the target card.

Static Checklist

But of course, you could also use a checklist with a static name and no variable. It entirely depends on the workflow you are intending to add.

When you use a checklist with a static name, something like “Card Status”, you want to make sure that outdated checklist items are removed on a regular basis. Or, at least, checked off. — Why? Because Trello allows only a certain number of checklists per board. Even though this number is quite high, I was told it can bring you into trouble when the limit is indeed reached.

Creating a Checklist Item from a Card

Let me give you an idea how creating a checklist item from a card could look like.

If such an action is not embedded into a bigger workflow, you will need a trigger that sparks such an action. And you need an extra card (“ZZZ”) where the checklist (“YYY”) is added to.

A label would be a perfect trigger:

when a “XXX” label is added to a card, find card “ZZZ” and add item “{cardname}” to checklist “YYY”

This command simply adds a checklist item with the card’s title to the checklist. That’s probably the simplest way to do it. You see that I made use of the variable {cardname} to use the card’s title.

But of course, you can also use a due date as trigger:

On the day a card is due, …
One hour before a card is due, … 
The moment a card is due, …

Of course, there are more ways of converting cards into checklist items. For instance, you could add all cards from a list as checklist items to a checklist. This comes in handy, when your lists change often and you want to keep track of the list traffic.

It could be also very useful in a cross-board workflow, where you collect cards from one board as checklist items on another board. Then, linking them to each other would make it easy for you to check off finished tasks and get that information instantaneously synced to the other board.

You can also set up an email notification that sends a status of all (or all incomplete) checklist items into your inbox every morning.

If you like what you read, please give me clap 👏 or two. Thanks!

Find more useful information on how to create workflows in your Trello boards on my website.