What kind of planning and organization tools have you got stored in your toolbox these days?
Nothing amps up your scheduling skills like having a tween, or two, in the house. Suddenly, you are driving all over town for sports practices, youth events, school activities, and social get-togethers. If you don’t stay on top of the calendar it will quickly run away from you. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Perhaps you are a scheduling wizard. If that’s true you just go ahead and scroll down to the comments and tell us all how you do it.
But, if you need a little help in this department, keep reading, I’ve got some handy planning and organization tools that just may save your bacon.
I am a firm believer that all women need a well-stocked toolbox, both figuratively and literally. You need the right tools for the job. Without them you’re up a creek without a paddle. Am I right?
The tools in your figurative tool box will determine how you manage your time. The way you manage your time impacts the way you live and enjoy your life. How you live and the extent to which you enjoy your live has a direct effect on your relationships. See the connection here?
The goal is to have a healthy balance of family time, personal time, and social time. The ratios for these look different for everyone based on personality, non-negotiable commitments (like your job), and your family values.
But, when you know what’s going on in your life and the lives of your family members you can say yes and no appropriately to the opportunities that are offered to you. Not everything is a yes and, with the right space built in, not everything is a no.
When you start to control your schedule you create more opportunities to live a rich fulfilling life with your family. It is possible to live a life with healthy balance of responsibilities and free-time. Your schedule doesn’t need to control you. Take back your power girlfriend!
So, what do you need in your tool box to make this happen for your family?
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The Family Purpose Statement
The most effective tool I know is a family purpose statement. A well-thought-out family purpose statement it’s like having a security guard for your time.
Personal and family time is precious. It’s something to be protected. If you don’t implement some way of keeping that time safe it is much harder to say no to people or events that want to encroach on it. I strongly suggest you write down your personal or family purpose statement so that you can not only protect your time but also bring meaning and purpose to the way you use it.
My favorite family purpose statement guide came out of the book Organized Simplicity. My husband and I created our family purpose statement in 2011. I regularly re-visit it to make sure it aligns with where we are as a family and so far I’ve never had to change it.
When we created it our children were four and five. This many years later it still applies because it reflects our values as a family.
I also suggest checking out some of the articles on my Parenting Tweens and Teens Pinterest board for suggestions and help in creating your own family purpose statement. This statement is key piece in your quest for discovering the best planning and organization tools for your family.
The Family Calendar
Another one of my favorite planning and organization tools is a good, useful, calendar. I have tried all sorts of ways to manage my time. I’ve found I prefer an electronic calendar. You may prefer a paper calendar. Whatever makes you comfortable, use it.
One of the things to consider as your kids get older is a way for them to be able to see the calendar and add their own activities to it (most applicable to teens here.) That’s why I love Google Calendar. The main calendar is attached to my email address and I can see my husband’s schedule attached to his email address. As our kids get older I’ll be able to attach their calendars as well, via their email addresses.
The bottom line is that we can see each other’s schedules and we have room to grow as our kids get older and eventually have smart phones of their own.
Google Calendar also has a task list element that I use daily. I can keep a list of things I need to get done daily, weekly and monthly. I love to check them off after they are completed.
These two elements, the calendar and task list, sync with my Android phone, my Kindle Fire, and my Apple laptop so that I am never without my schedule and to do list.
The Family Notebook
I am a firm believer in keeping a Family Notebook. It doesn’t have to be complicated it just has to have the right information for your crew.
I use the Home Management sheets from LifeYourWay.Net. I’ve used them for years and they are excellent for our needs. You may want to use your own sheets or even make your own. Whatever works for you is what you should use.
In my Family Notebook I keep information I may need when talking to an insurance company, the doctor’s office, or that my husband might need in my absence.
I also keep our family budget, my holiday planning sheets (courtesy of iMom.com) and a birthday list of family and friends. I don’t need much in my Family Notebook. You might need more or less than me. Make it your own!
Besides my calendar I have come to heavily rely on Evernote. I totally dig this program/app and can assure you the possibilities for its usefulness are endless. What I really love is the organizational power it gives me. I store all kinds of information in my “notebooks” and love having all of it right at my fingertips whether I’m on my phone or my laptop.
I recommend it for keeping track of random info, websites, dates, and other important data – in this age of technology things can go south pretty quick. Evernote helps me to keep on top of things very effectively.
In the same vein as Evernote is Google Drive. Google has a free online document creator called Docs, spreadsheet option called Sheets, and even a presentation maker called Slides. Because it’s attached to your email address you have access to all these options from anywhere you access your email. Bonus!
I use Google drive to keep private info at my fingertips, budget info for our family, and documents I need access to such as medical permission slips and sport schedules.
When you use helpful tools you will be better organized. The more organized you are the more you are able to live the life you want. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Do What’s Best For You
Whatever tools you add to your toolbox be sure they fit you – if you don’t like an electronic calendar, get a paper one, they are soooo pretty these days. If you like sticky notes, fine, just don’t wallpaper your house with them. The key is to use what works best for your personality.
There are a number of apps and programs out there for keeping yourself and your family organized. Too many to count, really. Try a few and see what you think. I think simpler is better so I use simple, free apps and programs. If you pay, make sure you use it.
Do you have a tool that works amazingly well for your family? Share in the comments!