Trello is a free, effective, family organizer

A couple years ago, my wife and I succumbed to the fact that individual paper planners weren’t doing it for us. As much as I love jotting things down on paper and carrying a notebook of lists in my back pocket, it’s no good when two people are trying to coordinate Cub Scouts and ballet and play practice and Girl Scouts and chorus and homework, etc.

In other words, our Family, Inc., needed an appropriate tool. For us, it’s Trello.

Trello is a web-based collaboration tool that’s meant for teams, but it’s perfect for families. It runs in a browser so it doesn’t matter if you’re using a Mac or a PC, and it allows you to create “boards” that hold the tasks, assignments, reference materials, and so forth for a given project.

We have a board for each of the kids, as well as for ourselves. In addition to who needs to be where, we add things like what needs to go where (pack the script and change of ballet clothes for Tuesday drop-off) as well as who’s going to do each.

Trello’s emphasis is on speed and no-fuss teamwork. Essentially, a board holds several cards. Each card contains one item in the list of information that becomes the support material for a project. Each board (“William”) holds several boards (“Cub Scouts”). Here’s how we use Trello at Chez Caolo.

The need for quick capture of ideas and news

Items added to Trello from one device show up on another. For example, my wife can update a card on her iPhone and that edit shows up on mine. Likewise, I can make a note from my computer and it shows up on both phones. As we go about our days, it’s comforting and useful to know that we’re in touch and up to date, even on those days when we barley see each other between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Perhaps you know how that goes?)

As I said, Trello works great in a modern web browser. There are apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, too. But, honestly, the website is smart enough to work and look great on a mobile device, so check it out before you install an app.

Trello is really meant to be used by business teams, but we’re getting a lot out of it as busy parents. In the end, we’re pretty happy with it. Trello is a near ubiquitous capture tool that is always in sync. Shortcuts make it fast and cloud sync lets me stay on top of things.

9 Comments for “Trello is a free, effective, family organizer”

  1. posted by Jodi on

    I am intrigued by Cozy – its designed for families. We tried using it, but we are too low-tech (no smart phones, only one computer etc.) so we do the old fashioned paper planner and “family white board.”

    But, if we ever went high tech, this was the program I planned on using. Have you heard of it? How does it compare to Trello?

  2. posted by Mark on

    looks a bit like

    Essentially a Kanban Agile board. If you’re in to using Agile for family management, check out this TED talk:

  3. posted by Phoebe on

    I tried Cozi and didn’t like it. Too cutesy and not enough substance. Also — expensive yearly subscription. There’s a free version, but it’s really more of a trial, as it does not contain some very basic things like a calendar view.

  4. posted by Bill Reid on

    Google Calendar.

  5. posted by April on

    Mark, thanks for sharing that TED talk. I found it interesting.

  6. posted by Anna on

    Off Topic:

    I am trying to add this blog to my feed reader (Feedly)… but apparently there is no RSS subscription set up for this site. I thought maybe it was an intentional move because you thought RSS feeds cluttered up people’s lives, lol. But then I found an article on this site explaining what RSS feeds are, and how to use them. And you even have an RSS subscription button, which also didn’t work for me. Please help! I’m so excited to ditch my old google feed reader (before it ditched me) and start over with just a few worth blogs. I want you on that list!

  7. posted by Jarrod on


    Use to add Unclutterer to feedly.


  8. posted by andrea on

    I used Trello for planning my wedding and it was great. some cards had check lists, some cards had deadlines, some cards were colour coded by which of had to do something.

    we had them divided by vague deadlines. it was VERY satisfying moving a card to my ‘Done!’ column.

    I can see how it could be a useful tool for families.
    With just two of us, we are good with Google Calendar (and Google Docs)- again, it is in a browser and it updates to everyone instantly.

  9. posted by Anna on


    Thank you for your fast reply. It worked!

Comments are closed.