A Trigger List for Moms and Dads

A friend of mine came to visit when my first child was three months old. Noticing I was still actively using my day planner, she joked, “What do you write on your task list, ‘Cook and Clean?'”

She wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings, but her question reflected an assumption that many people have about those who spend the majority of their waking hours taking care of little ones…that they’re not actually “doing” anything.

I’ve spent 10 years as a full-time mom, and let me assure you that taking care of a family is a huge responsibility. It’s a party some days, a train wreck other days, but it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. I’ve created a Mom-and-Dad-friendly “Trigger List” to help parents see what types of things they can organize with GTD.

Let the fun begin:

  • Books to read together as a family
  • Holiday traditions to create more unity
  • Recipes that can be made with lots of “help”
  • Lullabies to learn on the guitar
  • Parent/Child date night ideas
  • Promises I’ve made to my children
  • Promises I’ve made to my spouse
  • Family service projects
  • Neighbors we’d like to know better
  • Family Vacations
  • “Quiet Time,” family-friendly websites
  • Free community events
  • Family day-trips
  • Errands to run when I’m by myself
  • Errands to run when I’ve got lots of company
  • Volunteer opportunities with the PTA
  • Birthday party gifts to keep on hand
  • Fun birthday party games and ideas
  • Good behavior incentive programs for my children
  • Job charts/housework plans
  • Shopping lists (pre-printed, organized by store)
  • Sports for my children
  • Home de-junking plans
  • Cultural experiences to calendar
  • Great mentors for my children
  • Items to discuss with my children’s school teachers
  • Holes in the wall to repair
  • Family fitness goals
  • Clothing to mend
  • Clothing needs (did they grow out of that already?)
  • Ideas to make nap time happen regularly
  • Parenting books to read or classes to take
  • Journal entries to record (so I don’t forget how cute my children are)
  • Doctor and dental appointments to make
  • Character traits I want to develop as a parent
  • Character traits I want my children to develop
  • Home decor ideas
  • Play date ideas
  • Crafts that won’t leave my kitchen sparkling with glitter
  • Family memories to create so my children will always remember how much I loved them

The list can go on and on, but way I see it, I have two options:

Option 1: When my children turn two, I can say, “Look, Honey! This is called a TV. It’s going to take care of you for the next 16 years!”


Option 2: I can be an involved parent. I’ll certainly take time, occasionally, to watch great programs on television, but I want more than that for my children.

I want to be the kind of parent who thinks big. I want to bring inspiring books into our home, bake 23 different kinds of bread, visit historical landmarks, tour the world’s museums, help families living in poverty, teach my children about history and politics, create a family of incredible photographers, and bike 12 miles together on Saturdays.

All of this used to overwhelm me. Of course I can’t do everything I imagine, but I can do a lot of those things–if I’m organized.

Getting Things Done isn’t just about “things.” It’s about people, about relationships, and about creating a lifestyle that most people think they can’t achieve.

Our family has improved dramatically since I implemented GTD into my life–not just because I’m less stressed about running my business and managing the home, but because I now see a clear path to turning my dreams of a strong, healthy family into my reality.

April Perry is the mother of four children and co-director of www.powerofmoms.com. She is a regular contributor to GTD Times.

Join the Conversation


  1. April, your article is just great! You have four very lucky kids and one SUPER lucky husband! (tell him I said so).

  2. I am so glad I read this article!
    I love the trigger-list and the “raise the bar” ideas it brings.
    Very well written. Thanks for sharing!

  3. April,

    I am so impressed with the way that you have implemented your vision of how you would like to parent in such a smart and tangible way. I think moms are the ultimate candidate for GTD and you brought this to the forefront beautifully. You make me proud to be a David Allen Staff member. The way you are aligning yourself to be the kind of mom you want to be through organizing all it’s many facets is why I work here.

  4. Great list – I could think of only three things I might add –

    1) school calendars. My youngest daughter’s elementary school sends home a calendar at the beginning of the year that includes all the grade level programs, the holiday programs, science fair, etc., and the weekly newsletters include all the field trips for the next month, as well as PTA meetings, etc.

    2) your babysitter list – rates, availability, etc., unless you pay your oldest for babysitting as necessary.

    3) potential date sites for you and your husband. You need to have a regular chance for adult conversation and your own personal interests.

  5. Great list .As a business owner, I tend to focus my GTD efforts on how I get things done in my business. It’s great to be reminded that GTD covers the whole of life, particularly family life.

    Even with a teenager in the house who lives a fairly independent life, there are still things to do: lifts to college, talks about college, meals to share.

  6. Great thoughts, everyone! Kari, thanks for all you do at the David Allen Company. Your work is definitely helping to improve others’ lives. I appreciate you!

    Lise, your additions are wonderful. I’m in absolute agreement, and I am a huge fan of date nights. Thanks for commenting.

    And Stephen, good luck with your teenager’s college planning. These last few months together are precious. Even though my children are 10 and under, the time is slipping away too fast. GTD really can help us make the most of our family experiences.

  7. What a great reminder that Getting Things Done isn’t just about what we “have to do”, but what we “want to do”. Thanks for your trigger list.

  8. Fantastic. While I use GtD to manage both work and life needs, your list immediately triggered several things I had not been mindful about. I’ve now created collection buckets for them and seeded them, ready for my next review.

    Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you so much. I am transitioning from working full time to working only a few hours a week. It is difficult to conceptualize how to get things done in a new environment. Honestly, I feel a little sheepish about all of my organizing too, and wonder how to balance wanting my home to have a more relaxed feel with also wanting to think big. This article really helped!

  10. April, Just curious if you keep most of these materialized concepts created from your trigger list as checklists, because it seems like my list of checklists is getting so large. I really enjoy using them, it is just starting to seem like work. I have created an index of checklists which the people around me think is just odd.

    I like the idea of most of this being someday maybe concepts, allowing to bring a few into the project arena every week or so and putting others on the backburner.

  11. Love this article! Would you mind sharing a little insight into your system or what type of planner you use?

  12. Thanks so much for all these kind comments. I’m sorry it took me awhile to respond. The comments don’t come to me by email, so I keep coming back to my posts to “check in.”

    Clio, I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. Working from home is very challenging, but there are also some incredible relationship-building opportunities. One thing that’s helped me is adding structure to my day (and my children’s wake time/quiet time). I have an article called “Mommy’s Naptime 101” on my website (www.powerofmoms.com), if you’d like to take a look.

    Allison, thanks for your question. Explaining my process for accomplishing these checklists might make a good post by itself. Basically, I weave all of these ideas throughout my entire system. I’ve put together an eBook called “Mind Organization for Moms” which outlines everything, and I have a start-up eBook free right now on my website for those who sign up for our newsletter. (www.powerofmoms.com) My “Someday” folder is thoroughly sub-categorized, and then I keep two sets of “Next Actions Lists.” One is “Important”–things I definitely want to do, but they can be done anytime in the next three months. The other is “Immediate”–things I need to do this week. That way, I can keep my lists manageable, but complete.

    Laney, I have photos of my whole system in my “Mind Organization for Moms” program, if that would interest you. I use a Pocket-sized Franklin Covey planner, which I’ve customized to work with GTD. I put my Immediate Next Actions on my “compass card,” and I keep lists in the back of the planner. It works like a charm.

    Good luck everyone! And if you’d like to contact me directly, you can email contact (at) powerofmoms.com. Thanks!

  13. I love these trigger list. I am so glad I took the time to drop by and get rejuvenated here at GTD times.

    I was in a morning slump, but now I can happily move forward while creating at least one trigger list as a treat to myself when the morning chores are complete.

    I am a WAHM, so juggling life is a challenge that can be very rough at times.

  14. Thanks Pam. I completely understand what it’s like to work at home and juggle a family. (That’s my life right now!) Hang in there. GTD really has made things work beautifully around here. I’ve never had so many projects on my plate, but I’m able to manage them calmly and find meaning in my family–thanks to David Allen. Seriously, it’s been a life-changing thing for me.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.