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:
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.
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