This Is What Real Life Looks Like

TL;DR: I’m publishing a read-only version of my live To Do and To-Done list.

Transparency has been a big theme lately. The current #talkpay movement encouraging people to publicly disclose their salaries. Pushes for wearable body cameras to bring greater transparency to policing. Transparency into NSA’s surveillance efforts.

Transparency isn’t just a buzzword - it’s a powerful thing. When something hides in the shadows, it’s hard to see exactly how big or small it is. What color it is. Sometimes even what it is altogether. So your imagination fills in the gaps. And we all know that the details our imaginations invent are rarely accurate.

But when you illuminate something hiding in the shadows, you can suddenly see all the details. The monster is revealed to be just an everyday coat hanger.

The examples I gave above are big issues facing society today. But there is something to be said for everyday transparency, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the public image people present vs reality, and about the lack of clarity into what people’s day to day lives are really like. I’m sure Producers on televisions shows are very important… but I have no idea what exactly it is they do. A student I know wants to be a graphic designer, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what a graphic designer really does all day. And does anyone know how project managers stay busy all day?

I get this all the time. When I tell people I’m a consultant or an entrepreneur, they tend to say “Okay, so… what does that mean?”

Well. I’ll show you. As an experiment, I’m going to publish a read-only version of my master Trello board.

I’m going to give anyone in the world who wants to see it detailed insight into my day to day life. Everything from “invoice client x” to “build Twilio integration” to “do laundry.” The glorious to the mundane. I’ll keep a history of “Done” items so people can see not only what I need to do and what I’m doing, but also see what’s been completed.

I’ll publish links to this blog post and my Trello board on my main site, periodically on Facebook and Twitter, and include it in my email signature.

I don’t have any specific metrics for this experiment, but I am curious if:

-People view it more than once
-Other people adopt it as well (it’s easy! You should! #ToDoPublicly)
-The “surveillance” aspect pressures me to get things done faster and not let things sit around unfinished.
-It reduces “did you do that yet?” and “when will you do that?” type questions.

The last point I think is valuable for people at work. If someone asks you to do something, instead of making them ask when it will be done or what the status is, they can just look and see.

This will be a fun experiment. Trello doesn’t have a way to track people viewing a public board, so if you do take a look, hit me up on Twitter or email me (my domain name at and let me know what you think.

Written on January 1, 2014