For many years, long before I joined 37signals, my wife and I have been using Basecamp to manage our personal lives. Recently I noticed we topped 1,000 discussions. That seems crazy even to me, but it really shows how incredibly useful and versatile it is.

Most people probably think of Basecamp as a tool they use at work to manage their projects. But for my wife and I, daily life is like one big personal project. And with twin boys just over a year old, life is more hectic than ever. Basecamp helps us organize the chaos of our longest-running project.

So how do we use it?

Really, just like any other project would. For example:

  • If there are groceries to buy or errands to run, we add a to-do in Basecamp and assign it. Things get done and checked off.
  • When the boys have a checkup with their doctor, we write up a brief recap so we can always remember what happened and how they’re progressing. Any associated files – bills, notes, height and weight measurements – all go in the same thread.
  • Any important emails like tax bills, a product recall, car repairs, etc. get forwarded into Basecamp. No more searching through thousands of emails to find the few crucial ones.
  • Events, big or small, are tracked in the calendar. This lets us discuss a specific event, and cross link it with other discussions, to-dos, etc.
  • We use text documents to keep track of things that change frequently over time – stuff we have in our attic, gift cards that we haven’t used yet, and even menus we created for parties.

Sure, we’re pretty organized now, but it wasn’t always like that. After a few stressful situations where information got lost, we knew there had to be a better way.

Now we’re never really concerned about forgetting. We don’t panic about trying to remember what happened and when. It’s a little strange to say, but we have a sense of calm because we know where everything is – in Basecamp.

So what’s the real benefit of doing all this?

Put simply, using Basecamp at home means that the mundane parts of daily life are stashed away and don’t need to be discussed in person.

Like many couples, my wife and I both work. We’re together as a family for maybe a few hours a day. We want that time to be spent talking about stuff that really matters – how friends and family are doing, work happenings, and other more interesting, fun stuff.

Spending time at the dinner table discussing all the things we need to do is a waste of time. So we don’t do it. Instead, we focus on each other and our kids, and not the noise of daily life.

Got an interesting use of Basecamp?

So that’s my story. But that’s just one semi-creative use of Basecamp outside of work. And now with Basecamp Personal, I’m hearing about even more great uses, like coordinating a sports team, keeping friends connected, and even managing a rental property.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge Basecamp nerd, so I really love hearing about how people use it in creative ways. If you’ve got an interesting story about how you use Basecamp, drop me a line at dan@37signals.com and let’s chat.