Drug testing

Family Management Tip #2: Choosing the Right Organizer for Your Family

What method do you currently use to organize your family? Do you mean my paper calendars or my electronic ones, you ask? If you're like the vast majority of people we surveyed, you're probably using a wall calendar on or near the fridge. And, for portability, you keep the same information on your pocket day planner, which you carry around.

You might also have some information on a personal digital assistant (PDA) and your calendar at work, perhaps Microsoft? Outlook? or Lotus? Notes?. You worry about how to keep all these calendars synchronized, along with those of your spouse's. And you really manage your family in a day-to-day manner - sending an email or IM reminder or calling someone to make sure they've done something.

Or perhaps you're a little better than that. Maybe you've chosen a paper calendar/organizer that's specifically oriented to busy families. That's a great first step. As long as you're mostly home-bound and you don't need to share that information with anyone outside of the house, a paper-based family organizer is a good choice.

If you have school-age children, no doubt you have to deal with a mountain of paper that keeps piling up every time they empty their school bags. How do you keep track of their homework schedules?

Maybe you need to share your kids' appointments and activities with a babysitter, relative, or ex-spouse. How do you do that? Perhaps you use a web-based calendaring system such as the one provided by Yahoo?, MSN?, or AOL?.

But you still keep the wall calendar, because you still need to communicate that information with your family - now you have more places to keep the information synchronized.

A newer crop of web-based calendaring applications has debuted this year. These are specifically aimed at making it easier to share calendars with family and friends and "to bring it all together". So the choice just got more confusing.

What's the right tool for your family? Should you just stick with the tried-and-true wall calendar and live with its inadequacies, or should you attempt an electronic solution?

Glad you asked. Here's a set of questions to ask of any tool that you're considering. The tool that's right for you will depend on your answers:

  • What is the set of problems you're looking to solve? Do you mostly care about coordinating appointments? Do you want to keep track of things like chores, homework, medication, and so on? Do you need to share information with friends and relatives? Do you want to share ALL information, or only selectively share the information?
  • How easy is it to use? Paper tools are easy and quick, but they're not accessible from everywhere and keeping them up-to-date is a problem. Often, but not always, using computer-based solutions (whether using the web, desktop, or PDA) requires a certain amount of patience, but they tend to be more portable and accessible. Will the benefits of the computer-based solution make up for the inconvenience? Even if it does, is the system easy enough to use that you will use it consistently?
  • Will it work for my whole family? Feeding a time management system is a chore that's more likely to be completed if everyone in your family can easily use it.
  • How likely are you to continue using it? Making a commitment to time management, in whatever form, requires a certain amount of discipline. If a system is not delightful to use, it could quickly become a chore that is unsustainable. So weigh the usability of the system from that perspective.
  • How accessible and portable is it? This is an important reason to choose an electronic solution in the first place. If you're on the road or in the dentist's office, how can you easily find out if there's a conflict with some other appointment you're trying to make? Is the solution usable by a mere mortal (namely you) who may not have the patience to deal with clumsy little keyboards or the multiple steps it takes to navigate, for example, a cell phone calendar?
  • How easy is it to share information? Are members outside your family easily able to access the appropriate information (and only the appropriate information)? How much effort does it take on your part to share that information?
  • Does the system give back more than you put in? How easy is it to synchronize your information with, say, your spouse's work calendar and your own work calendar? If you make an entry on the system, does it automatically synchronize with other calendars that are important to you?
  • How much automatic input do I get from the system? How automatically does information that you care about, like your kids' homework or athletic schedules, and your local community schedules, come into the system?

You're probably asking yourself by now, is this all really worth it? This is a fairly daunting set of questions to ask. Isn't there a review somewhere of the different solutions available? That is material for another article.

Saro Saravanan is the Founder-CEO of Mediabee, which makes Mediabee Family Dashboard, a free family management tool built to address the needs of busy families and their organizers. In the past, he was the chief architect who launched Fidelity NetBenefitsSM, an employee benefits and retirement services portal used by over 10 million users. Be sure to read the rest of his articles from this series on Family Management. Download Mediabee Family Dashboard today at http://mediabee.com and streamline your family life.

In The News:

Memorial Day revelers who flock to the Jersey Shore are being advised to be wary of a real sting operation.
(Spoiler Alert!
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket containing 60 satellites from Cape Canaveral in Florida Thursday evening.
A family in Bainbridge, Ga., had the “surprise of a lifetime” when they found a massive alligator soaking in some sun in their front yard.
Two huge male rat snakes were caught fighting over a female in North Carolina, in a rare video.
Scientists have discovered layers of ice buried a mile beneath Mars’ north pole that could help unlock the Red Planet’s history.
Two orphaned bear cubs have been rescued from a huge 70-foot spruce tree in Canada.
Male Egyptian fruit bats will allow female bats to take food straight from their mouths and scientists believe they know why -- the bats are trading food for sex.
In May 2018, a startling study revealed that there was an "unexpected and persistent increase" of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere. At the time, scientists could not pinpoint the exact location of the ozone-depleting gas, but subsequent media reports suggested that the clues lead to a rural, industrial town in China. Now, a new study confirms that the rise in CFCs is indeed coming from northeastern China based on atmospheric observations.
A doughnut-loving bear is “staying out of trouble” after it traveled thousands of miles to return home, say wildlife officials.

Basic Organizing Principles

So you've decided to get organized, but you just don't... Read More

Too Many Unfinished Projects? 7 Time Management Strategies to Move Stalled Projects to Finish Line

Q. I have several projects going at once -- but... Read More

Breathing Life Into Dead Spaces

"I don't have enough room!" -- this is a common... Read More

Keep, Get Rid Of, Or Not Sure?

Cleaning out can seem overwhelming -- especially if it's been... Read More

10 Organizing Tips for Road Warrior Parents

Parenting is always a challenge, but particularly so if your... Read More

Your Organizing DNA

Do you like storing your papers on top of your... Read More

Its Time To Clear Out! Clutter Busting For Every Aspect Of Your Life

'A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view... Read More

How To Organize Your Paperwork

Many people have a huge challenge coping with the incoming... Read More

10 Tips to Get Organized and Clutter-Free- Now!

1. THE LOVE IT OR LOSE IT PRINCIPLE: Every item... Read More

Lightening The Load

When I tell people what a FREEING experience moving is,... Read More

Family Management Tip #3: Getting Ready for the New School Year

Clothes. Check. School supplies. Check. No doubt you've got to... Read More

Ten Signs That Your Life Is Cluttered

How do you know if you need to clean out?... Read More

10 Minute Tricks to Help You Get Organized

Whoever thought you'd be able to get organized in just... Read More

Oh No, Not Another Interuption, How To Deal With Everyday Distractions

Every day I find junk mail waiting for me, whether... Read More

Declutter for Sucess

Finish each day and be done with it. You have... Read More

Simplify Your Life! No Really...Simplify Your Life!

We hear it every day."Buy this product, and simplify your... Read More

Organize (and Decorate) Your Home on a Budget with Baskets

What's an item that can help you organize every room... Read More

Common Clutter Culprits- How to Bust Through Clutter

Paper1. You may already be in the habit of filing... Read More

Four Tips For Clearing The Clutter

Spring?. Fresh breezes through open windows, sleeping trees come awake... Read More

Spruce Your Environment, Spruce Your Spirit

After a long winter, this is the time of year... Read More

How Can I Deal With It All?

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Have a to-do list a mile... Read More

What Balance Looks Like For You

Recently, in an online group, we talked about "balance" and... Read More

Daily Systems Keep You Organized

Ever wonder how they do it? How a short-order cook... Read More

The Organized Move: Unpacking with a Plan

(This is the third in a series of three articles... Read More

Spring into Spring

Hasn't time flown? Already we're into the last quarter of... Read More

induction light step-dimming fixture Pete's produce ..