Friday, January 3, 2014

Family Calendar


Welcome to 2014! Another year has passed, which means it's time to get our acts together! New year means new start, but let's make this one count. Most people make New Years Resolutions on which they never take action, so let's see if we can kick off the year with one resolution that anyone can accomplish. Let's create a family calendar!  Imagine this calendar to be the Holy Grail of all calendars. It will display all sorts of information for your family. We are most efficient when we know what has to be done, when/where it has to be done, and who else is involved. The easiest way to do that is to have a family calendar that clearly displays EVERYTHING to be done.  Here's how to make one: 

First, let's talk about the type of calendar you should get. Depending on your habits and needs you might prefer a paper or electronic calendar. I personally like LARGE monthly view paper calendars because to me they are more malleable, whereas electronic calendars limit you to the creativity of the calendar creator. That said, I do use an electronic calendar on my phone to keep track of personal appointments but my family uses a large paper calendar to keep track of family appointments. For the sake of simplicity I am going to concentrate on paper calendars in this post, but know that my suggestions can be tailored to electronic calendars as well. 

Appointments //
To fill in your calendar you will need to collect a list of appointments.  Here is what you should include: 

1. Schedule of payments (utilities, mortgages/rent payments, loans, credit card payments, services, memberships, charity payments, etc)
2. Schedule of special household tasks (gutter cleaning, landscaping, any large tasks that will require a lot of work and or a service provider)
3. List of birthdays
4. List of all personal appointments (dinners with friends, interview dates, movie dates, doctor appointments, football practice, special events, vacations, etc)
5. Printed school or work schedules (including addresses and phone numbers) for each house member
6. List of addresses and phone numbers for extracurricular activities or hobbies that occur outside of the house

Supplies //
Supplies will depend on whether you create your calendar on a computer or if you make it by hand. Here are the basics:

1. Different colored pens ( one per member of the house, green pen, one colored pen for mutual use)
2. Sticky notes
3. Big red dot stickers, small green dot stickers
4. Other decorative materials, if you wish
5. Poly envelopes

Creating The Calendar //
Now let's fill in the calendar. Here's the step by step guide on how to go about it:

Fill in your birthdays (and holidays) first, as these events never change. Place a ballon or present sticker near the event. Go through every month and write in people's birthdays. Don't write in everyone that you know, that's ridiculous. Only the people to whom you'd like to wish a happy birthday- the people that matter in your life. 

In green pen, mark on your calendar the due date of each bill. You can pay the bills as they come in or you can cluster and pay bills in groups. Look at your calendar and analyze how you can pay bills in clusters (give yourself a time cushion and consult your paycheck schedule). Once you decide on a few dates on which to pay bills, place a BIG red dot sticker on that date. The red dot should signify that bills, listed on the calendar after the red sticker, must be paid on that specific date. (Please note that you can change payment due dates- this is a service that most companies provide).

Fill in your personal appointments and special household tasks. Make sure to write the time and location for each event, if it's relevant. Give each person in the house a different colored pen for their appointments. If an appointment has more than one person involved, use a neutral colored pen and next to the task/event write the first letter of each person's first name. If an event requires payment make a visible dollar sign next to it. Once the event is paid for, place a little green dot on the dollar sign to signify that you have monetarily committed to the event. Once you get the tickets/confirmations for the event put it in a poly envelope and keep it near the calendar.

I would caution against writing down gym sessions, basketball practice, dance class sessions, work or school hours, etc on this calendar if you or your family is involved in many activities. Instead, create personal weekly schedules for each person. By doing so, the bulky activities that do not change will not clutter up your calendar. Store these schedules in a poly envelope near the calendar.

Use post-its for additional information. If you have to call to make an appointment, write it on a post it and stick it on the date that you want to call. If there is a phone number that you need to take with you to a specific appointment write it on a post it, don't clutter the calendar. The calendar is ONLY for appointments, birthdays, events, and payments. 

Place the calendar somewhere central where everyone can see it. That way, everyone will be informed and organized.

This is a mock calendar for married couple, Helen and Adam. Next to their calendar they would
also have all of their supplies and 2 poly envelopes (one for tickets/confirmations and one for their
personal weekly schedules).

This is the legend that Helen and Adam
would follow when using their calendar. 

Happy Calendaring!

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