Whether you are a family of two or you have enough people under your roof to field a softball team, you probably struggle with your family organization when things get busy. It can be tough to stay organized and keep track of appointments, lessons, games, practices, work schedules, etc. You could go old school and hang up a giant calendar or dry erase board. But the problem with that approach is that those calendar squares are never big enough and dry-erase markers can, well, be erased in the blink of an eye.
You’ve probably upgraded your phone from push button or rotary. It’s time to upgrade your family organization strategy with technology. Here are six smart solutions to get you started!
1. Google Calendar
By now, most people are familiar with Google. If you have G Suite (formerly called Google Apps), you can set up a Google Calendar in about ten minutes. You can set up a calendar for each family member (color-coded, of course) and keep track of meetings and events and even set reminders. You can modify the settings to share your calendar with specific people—even people who use another online calendar system like Outlook or IBM Notes. With online calendars, you’ll never run out of space!
If your family members are active in sports, encourage their coaches or clubs to begin using the TeamSnap app. Team managers can store the roster, contact information, practice and game schedules, messages, directions and more in one easy-to-access online location. With TeamSnap, your coach or manager can quickly send a text message to alert the team of changes or cancellations so nobody wastes valuable time.
One of the best things about smartphones is that they double as cameras and video recorders. The question for many families is, “What do I do with all these photos?” Instead of eating up your data storage, you can create an account on a photo-sharing site like SmugMug. Your photo memories will be safe and accessible to you—and to anyone you choose to share them with!
4. Contact Box
If you’re of a certain age, you may remember an object called a Rolodex in which people stored contact information. Today, there’s an app called Contact Box that does that—and so much more! You can create emergency contact lists to share with babysitters, lists of home repairmen, lists of extended relatives, lists of teachers and classmates, etc. Once you’ve created your contact lists, you can share them, update them or call, text, or email them right from the app!
5. Virtual Assistants
If what you really need to stay organized is a personal assistant, but you think you can’t afford that luxury, look no further than your smartphone! The best-known virtual assistants include Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Whether you need directions to a particular address or to the nearest emergency room, need to know what the weather forecast is or need to send a text message, all you have to do is ask!
6. Payment apps
Like rotary phones and Rolodexes, another item that may one day become obsolete is the personal checkbook. Today, there are numerous apps that let you quickly and easily send money to family members, pay for goods and services, split restaurant tabs, and more—all from your smartphone. Venmo, for example, stores contact names and photos, lets you send or request money, lets you include comments or explanations, and more. All you have to do is link your bank account with the app and have family members do the same, and you can instantly send money for tuition, books, groceries, dry cleaning, camp, etc.
The vast array of technology available today can be overwhelming. If you take the time to learn how to use it, though, you’ll find that it can lower your stress level tremendously!