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Keeping Up With the Family

Another historical article, written sometime before 2005. This is so much easier with smartphones and shared calendars!

Keeping up with where everyone in our family is at any given time, much less when things need to happen, is not a trivial task. All four of us have PDAs, thankfully, and we make extensive use of them and an online calendar that can be accessed from any computer with internet access. Everything that's scheduled for the family has to be entered into the calendar or we won't remember it. I mean dance lessons, family gatherings, games, teacher conferences, the day the trash is picked up—absolutely everything.1

The catch is that I have to remember to look at the calendar and my to-do list, though, whether online or on my PDA. I also have to remember to synchronize the PDA. I'm actually pretty good on that part, but have to nag the rest of the family to do it. I can even have the PDA's alarm go off to remind me to do that. I haven't come up with a solution to getting everyone else to sync their PDAs regularly, but I'm working on it..

Beyond the technical solutions, we have a whiteboard in the kitchen. Immediate reminders, like "take the outgoing mail with you when you leave," or "the garden must be watered today!" go there. All of us have gotten pretty good about looking at the white board. Katie has her own small board on her bedroom door, where we notes things like, "Do not disturb: MIGRAINE!" Sam has his own white board next to his desk, where he puts reminders for himself. If I had a desk, I'd probably have one of my own.

There's a grocery list on the refrigerator, where we are all supposed to list things as we use them up, or as need arises. That's for non-urgent items, as we only grab it when we're making a "real" grocery run. Anything urgent has to be verbally requested from whoever is out and about (thank $deity for cell phones).

1 I've discussed the need for family groupware elsewhere, if you're interested.